Your doctor may not think of it that way, but some advertisers feel that the time you spend in the waiting room is important. Phreesia offers ‘PhreesiaPad’: a wireless-enabled touch screen device that replaces the traditional forms-on-a-clipboard you get handed when visiting your doctor.
The idea is that patients enter their information (age, insurance, complaint, history etc.) via its touch-screen interface in the waiting room while ‘enjoying’ drug company sponsored educational material related to their situation. PhreesiaPads are provided free of charge to the physician, and tab is picked up by drug companies. The company claims several benefits like legible information, shorter visits, less errors, reduced data entry, reduced staff time etc. Whatever.
Phreesia is a part of inevitable invasion of electronic medical record-keeping, but my personal irk is with the blatant way in which our healthcare system is giving more and more direct patient access to pharma companies. There is a fine line between ‘educating’ patients and taking advantage of their emotional state to promote your product. Direct-to-consumer-advertising (DTCA) adds unnecessary cost to our already overburdened system. No wonder DTCA is illegal in all developed countries except US and New Zealand.
Collecting patient input electronically is a great idea. It would go a long way in complex, long-standing conditions that require regular physician interaction; like chronic pain, palliative care, geriatrics, etc. In all these cases there is a lot to be gained by understanding patient preferences/attitude regarding treatment and how it affects their quality of life. Often patients can’t verbalize everything they feel and physicians run short on time. Having a tool like PhreesiaPad can enable valuable insights without affecting the clinic workflow much. Not to mention how great it’d be to have such data integrated into the EMR that the clinic is using.