Socrates said, “As it is not proper to cure the eyes without the head, nor the head without the body, so neither it is proper to cure the body without the soul.”
A patient’s mental condition suffers his spirit and affects his treatment. Isolation can have a real and negative impact on patients. In 2006, a study by US epidemiologist Candyce Kroenke and her colleagues suggested that women who were most socially isolated before they were diagnosed with breast cancer were twice as likely to die from the disease as women with the strongest social network were.
Similar studies conducted by Macmillan Cancer Support survey revealed that almost three in five people who lack support say it’s because their family and friends are too busy to help or live too far away. Family or a friend has not visited some at home for at least six months.
It has been recognized that the best persons for providing encouragement and social interaction with a person is another person who has same medical condition or suffering from same disease. However, numerous barriers have hindered social interaction between persons with the same or similar medical conditions.
A doctor may have numerous patients with the same medical condition, but that doctor is generally prohibited from introducing these patients to one another by ethical and legal constraints. For example, a doctor cannot tell an HIV-positive patient which others of his or her patients are also HIV-positive, in the hope of starting an HIV support group.
Similarly, using patient medical records to identify potential members of a medical self-help group would violate patient-doctor confidentiality, and would likely violate medical privacy laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Philips Healthcare is a worldwide leader and is among the top 3 global healthcare companies and offers over 450 products and services and manufactures its products around patient experiences. Philips is working on a medical communication device that can provide video conferencing facility between patients those are suffering from same illness.
They are making an online interactive patient forum where patients who are suffering from same illness can interact. This will help in alleviating loneliness of a patient and at the same time provide an option for a doctor to monitor his patient(s) directly from hospital.
How the Medical Forum Works
A patient can access the medical forum through his computer. However, some patients are not tech savvy and they find problems in using computer. Keeping this in mind Philips has also suggested to install a set top box that will work in conjunction with TV. A camera and microphone will be present in set top box that will connect the TV with online forum through Internet. It may be capable to store the videos and also to replay them later.
Instead of set top box, a dedicated video conferencing device can also be installed in patient house. A blood pressure monitor will also be provided with the video conferencing device and patient’s blood pressure can be monitored by the hospital staff.
A database will be maintained on medical server by hospital. The database will contain information of a patient based on this a support group will be allocated to a patient. Depending upon the illness videos will be scheduled for a patient. For example, patient with heart problems may be scheduled for cardiac therapy videos, diet videos, and so forth, while a diabetic may be scheduled for insulin injection instructional videos, low-salt diet videos, and so forth.
The Forum will Maintain Privacy of Patients
A patient suffering from illness like HIV or AIDS may not want to reveal his illness. Therefore, before participating in video conference in HIV support group a statement to reveal his privacy will be displayed. The patient will be legible to participate after providing his assent. If the patient will reject the request then he won’t be able to participate. However, he can still view what is going on in the forum.
The Forum will be Moderated by a Medical Person
The moderator of each group will be a nurse or the other medical person. The moderator may use the video conferencing to monitor a patient and progress in his recovery. The moderators can provide his advice through the forum to patients for their faster recovery. A patient can also ask questions from the moderator related to his illness and to get the best advice for his faster recovery.
This interactive patient forum of Philips is going to be a very beneficial from patient as well as doctor’s point of view. A patient can kill loneliness and at the same time can get advices from medical staff and member of group and using them he/she can fight very great enthusiasm and can recover faster.