By giving people more ways to speak up and more tools to take action, we keep decreasing the gap between what we wish for and what we can do about it.
If you’re not willing to do anything about it, best not to waste the energy wishing about it.
Self care has been a concept that has been with pharmacy for as long as I can remember.
In discussions with early developers of the system devised by PSA there was very much a protective element by PSA to keep their Self Care Card system one of Australia’s best kept secrets.
Out of a sense of innovative improvement some writers associated with i2P converted a Self Care Card to a web page, with links going off to various web sites that added value to the original card.
i2P published the material believing that it would advance the cause of Self Care as the flagship of the PSA, but we were wrong.
We were legally in breach of copyright and we were asked to take the web page down.
We immediately complied.
This happened in the early 2000’s when the power of the Internet was just starting to become apparent.
The writers saw it as an assist for pharmacy innovation and became quite excited about the project.
Today that exercise would be seen as pretty routine and mundane.
At that date Self Care was not really communicated very well, and progress since has also been limited.
Now the stars are aligned and the climate is right for marketing campaigns in the Self Care area because people wan t to take back responsibility for their health and they want the tools to do the job.
Pharmacies are well placed to deliver and capture a market in mobile phone apps and electronic sensors that can measure various patient biometrics plus a host of computer programs to assist in general health and diagnosis while pointing to various treatments.
Interested pharmacists should collaborate with whoever can help build this market for them, and one collaboration has interestingly come from the field of design.
Designers of all flavours are seeing the potential for increasing revenue in the design of medical equipment.
Project sizes can be as large or as small as desired and the advent of 3D-printing has accelerated the process, as prototypes can be produced cheaply converting to small production runs with similar economies of scale.
They too have spawned an entire industry of “makers” across all industries and health is now seen as one of the last frontiers.
From leadless pacemakers that can be implanted through a catheter to algorithms than can predict the onset of a seizure to robots that can perform surgery at the command of a physician, the medical industry is capable of making tremendous leaps of innovation.
The same holds in the profession of pharmacy, particularly as it is now beginning to engage with the area of clinical services for a fee.
And what better starting point than a system that can measure a range of patient biometrics accurately and cheaply, using technology such as sensors and near infrared light.
There is enough technology scattered around the world to fill this need now, but nobody has yet brought it all together in one simple design for pharmacist or patient use.
Designing a biometric system for patient use could underpin the entire self-care movement and underpin the development of pharmacy clinical services.
While these developments will help us live longer than ever before, they are mostly technical or clinical advancements targeted at incrementally improving the performance of a device or the execution of a procedure. Very little effort has been devoted to improving the human experience of interacting with healthcare technologies, an area of focus which has the potential to be very disruptive.
The gap between the quality of experiences we have with medical devices and healthcare services and that of consumer electronics is a wide one. As everyday devices like mobile phones, tablet PCs, and smart-watches increasingly are delightful to use, finely attuned to our needs and desires, and becoming part of our identity we are proud to project to others, the medical devices in our lives, like blood glucose meters, pulse oximeters, insulin pumps, and cardiac event monitors, still feel like barriers which keep us from living the lives we want.
Part of the difference in these two types of experiences comes from the way we arrive at them. When you walk into the pharmacy or emergency room your goals are very different from when you walk into the Apple Store – the former is driven by need, the latter by interest. But regardless of how we get to these experiences, does the gap between them have to be so wide? Why does our experience with medical devices and healthcare services have to lag so far behind our experiences with consumer electronics? Do we just accept this fate and give up? Or can we create experiences with medical and healthcare technologies which are truly positive, that address the gap in the best way possible?
While strict regulatory constraints and entrenched reimbursement patterns keep developers from focusing on positive experiences with healthcare technologies, our own low expectations as patients, family care givers, and clinicians do nothing to cause them to improve. These low expectations, however, are changing.
As patients, we have greater access to information and feel increasingly empowered to take on a more active role in our care. As family caregivers, we are doing more critical care tasks for our loved ones away from home. And as clinicians and administrators, we face greater pressure to provide quality care efficiently with increasingly technologically complex devices and software. And because we have all had very positive experiences with consumers electronics products and services, we have rising expectations for the products and services we use as we take care of own health.
i2P would encourage any pharmacist to enjoy the satisfaction of becoming an inventor.
While there will be more failures than successes there is something in the thrill of inventing your own product tailored to your own design it is an interesting adjunct to your professional career.
i2P would be privileged to assist in helping to promote any Australian invention or innovation.