COMMENTARY

The New Era of Patient-Generated Data

; Cheryl Pegus, MD, MPH; Paul S. Teirstein, MD; Joseph Wang, DSc

Disclosures

April 21, 2016

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Editor's Note: Medscape's Medicine 3.0: Patient-Generated Data event was held in March in San Diego. During this introduction to patient-generated health data, panelists discussed how the data are rapidly evolving and how they can be used to serve the physician-patient relationship.

This video and transcript have been edited for clarity.

Eric J. Topol, MD: Patient-generated data: The first thing you say is, well, maybe it's not so new. I mean, we've had pregnancy tests at home since the 1970s. And we've had glucose fingerstick tests and even glucose continuous sensors for many, many years. But what is really new here is that we have at scale so many things that are happening in sensors, like cardiograms, physical exams, otoscopes, and so many more, as well as lab tests which are quickly coming online through smartphones. So, basically most of the things that are done by doctors are going to be done potentially by patients. And about half of you have had at least one experience like that.

What we want to get into is this new era and what it means—all of the potential opportunities and challenges, the liabilities, the downsides. So let's start off with you, Cheryl. Obviously you have been a part of this era and you are into innovation. What is your overall sense about what is going on now and where it's headed?

Cheryl Pegus, MD, MPH: What's different about this for physicians is that patients aren't necessarily saying, "We would like you to analyze this for us." They are coming in and they actually have already looked up an answer. And in some data that the Pew Research Organization has done, the patients feel much more as if they can ask questions of their doctors, so it's really allowing them to build a relationship that is not waiting for the doctor to ask them a question. It's them saying, "No, this is what I found out; can you validate, can you support, or can you help direct me?"

Although people will think that this is a lot more information for a doctor, it's actually pretty helpful for someone to be able to say, "Here is what is going on with me, here is how much I know about it, so can you help further that?" So, one, I think it is going to improve patient-physician communication. And two, I think it will actually allow people to feel more in control of their health when they are not in the doctor's office, which is really what we want if you have a chronic condition. Seeing a doctor for 15 or 20 minutes every 3 months is not a way to manage any chronic medical problem; being able to have data that help guide you is a way to do that. So I think the future is actually pretty rosy.

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