Adding patients to healthcare's IT equation

Steve Deal has one problem with the infusion of technology into today’s healthcare model: it leaves out the patient. “We have the government pouring money into health IT on the providers’ side, but patients don’t have anything,” he says.

Along with co-founders Rene Raphael Vogt-Lowell and David Pingleton, Deal launched IFG Health, which is now in the beginning stages of launching a host of apps aimed at helping patients and families work more efficiently with their physicians and other healthcare providers.

Their first app, the IFG Provider Journal is available in web and mobile versions, and has a Facebook-like interface that allows users to track vital statistics, such as height, weight or blood pressure, record details of care plans during appointments and note progress via text and photos.

In many ways, the app is an electronic version of the notebook many people take to their physician’s office, and may be especially useful for caregivers who help a loved one manage complex conditions. 

Unlike a physical notebook, the app has search and sort functions for ease. Deal says that having information available – even basics that should be in a provider’s electronic medical record – helps appointments flow smoothly when time is limited. Also, not every physician or nurse is comfortable with EMRs, Deal points out.

A video on the company’s website says physicians wait an average of 10 to 15 seconds for the answer to a question before they move on, with or without the necessary information. 

Deal has experienced this firsthand as a caregiver for his father and mother-in-law, but doesn’t fault physicians. Today’s primary care providers, he points out, “go from one life crisis to another every 15 minutes,” facing burnout along the way. 

He hopes that organized patients will be able to partner better with their doctors, and plans to unveil a host of new web and mobile apps to help.

By Robin Donovan
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