Do Doctors Really Know Best?

Paul Clark

Technology is changing the way healthcare is done. While some patients may remain more comfortable with the traditional model of patient-doctor communications, in which “doctor knows best” and the patient is obedient, times are changing. According to the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare, technology is playing an increasingly significant role in the healthcare industry, which is leading to a shift in historical doctor-patient roles.

Maintaining ‘patients’ in the Digital Era

To retain patients these days, healthcare organizations must make their services more patient-focused. A recent HPE article states that the healthcare industry needs to move toward a more “citizen-centric” medical information model. It suggests that doctors generally don’t engage with patients enough, nor give them the right tools to help them participate in their own health.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) aims to change that with IoT technology. HPE is currently working with a UK network of private and public health partners on a series of test projects targeting the “vast untapped resource” of information from patients themselves, based on monitoring their own conditions. One of the test projects is a Diabetes Digital Coach Test Bed that combines digital sensors with a mobile app to allow patients to better manage their condition.

This is just one example of hundreds of healthcare mobile apps that have sprung onto the market in recent years aimed at gathering medical data and essentially allowing patients to become partners in their own health.

Switching to a data-based model of care

Wearable sensor technology encourages many patients to become more engaged and monitor their own progress, which can improve quality of life, extend healthy lifespans, and reduce treatment costs for healthcare providers.

It also creates volumes of untapped data that doctors, researchers, and others in the healthcare industry can use to develop personalized treatment options and improve patient outcomes. The terabytes of data generated from the Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT) can be monitored to enable preemptive treatment and analyzed to help identify new relationships between genetics, medical treatments, and patient outcomes.

According to the SAP video, Patients Benefit from New Healthcare Platform, it is also shifting the traditional healthcare model to a more data-driven model. The video says knowledge gained from healthcare data analytics can enhance a physician’s response, which has historically been based on personal knowledge, experience, and intuition, and gradually replace it with a more scientific, data-based treatment plan.

Higher expectations of healthcare

The doctor-patient relationship is changing in other ways too. As patients become increasingly proactive in their own health, they are developing new expectations. In the digital age, consumers have become used to the convenience of digital networks and services in all areas of their lives, from entertainment to shopping to banking. As patients bring similar expectations to healthcare, traditional methods will need to change significantly, as technology becomes necessary to meet those expectations.

The SAP Connected Care eBook examines how more patient engagement will impact doctors and other caregivers, who will need to:

  • Provide more data-driven, personalized care than they have in the past
  • Be open to patients becoming more actively engaged in shared decision-making
  • Provide visibility into patient data and key health indicators

As healthcare shifts from reactive treatment to proactive, preventive care, traditional healthcare roles and methods will need to adapt to a more collaborative approach that embraces technology.

For an in-depth look at how digital technology is changing the face of healthcare, download the SAP eBook, Connected Care: The Digital Pulse of Global Healthcare.

For more information on how the digital age is affecting business, download the SAP eBook, The Digital Economy: Reinventing the Business World.

Discover the driving forces behind digital disruption in the SAP eBook, Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology Is Transforming Our World.


About Paul Clark

Paul Clark is the Senior Director of Technology Partner Marketing at SAP. He is responsible for developing and executing partner marketing strategies, activities, and programs in joint go-to-market plans with global technology partners. The goal is to increase opportunities, pipeline, and revenue through demand generation via SAP's global and local partner ecosystems.