Saturday, March 07, 2015

Helping IVF patients get better medical care using an app

One of the biggest problems IVF patients have to tackle today is the lack of transparency in their medical treatment. They don’t know what’s going to happen next; why tests are being done; what the results means; what their treatment options are; what the doctors expects will happen next; and whether things are going as planned. They are not sure what needs to be done in case there is a problem of complication, or how to identify this.  What can they do to help the doctor to help them heal better ? Often the entire medical care treatment plan seems to be shrouded in secrecy, and patients resent this.

It’s not that doctors are deliberately conspiring in order to hide information from patients – it’s just that there’re too busy ; or they’ve got other things to think about; or they feel that they’ve explained everything which the patient needs to know. Some continue to believe that there’s no need for  the patient to bother about the medical details - after all , it’s the doctor who’s in charge , and since he‘s doing all that needs to be done , then what difference does it make to the patient, and how will knowing the nitty-gritty and technical minutiae help the patient ? After all, we all know that a little  knowledge can be dangerous !

The reality is that while the doctor maybe an expert on the disease, he is hardly an expert on the patient’s life – and patients do have a life outside the doctor’s clinic ! Patients need to know when they can go back to work ; how much their treatment will cost and when they need to make these payments . They need to organize hundreds of details in their daily life , which is they need to know all these details. It’s not that they want to play doctor , or that they want to interfere with the treatment plan, but this additional information helps them to regain control over their life.

This is why doctors need to focus on trying to share as much information with their patients , so that they can become better patients ! This will allow them to understand what’s happening , and they can become active partners in their care. They are engaged in the treatment process , which means that not only will they be far more compliant, they can keep a close watch on the process itself , so that the chance for inadvertent medical errors drops dramatically. Patients ( and their family members) will act as vigilant observers , and make sure that things are going according to plan.

While doctors are very busy, and don’t have the time to do this face to face, they can leverage technology in order to be able to share information with their patients. For example, this can be in the form of calendars , which plot out what the treatment process is going to be, so that patient’s know exactly what’s going to happen on each day. This could be a generic treatment calendar, so the patient knows what to
expect . The patient can then fill in the details , depending on their indivualised treatment plan.
This can actually relieve the burden on the doctor. It also make sure that patients don’t fall between the cracks , which often inadvertently happens in a large hospital, when there are lots of specialists and little coordination amongst them, because the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

Even better, this will allow patients to start adding value to the entire treatment process . They can modify and adapt these  tools , so that they can then help other patients during their treatment journey.
Thus, a treatment calendar could be in the form of an app which patients can download , which tells them what’s going to happen during the treatment process ; and which they can customize for their own treatment. Thus we’ve created a free app for IVF patients called My Fertility Diary , which allows patients to track what’s going to happen to them during their IVF treatment cycle. It tells them well in advance what’s going to happen and when, so they’re much more in control of their life.

The big bonus for doctors is that this way patient have fewer questions to ask them, because they know what exactly is going to happen. They no longer need to “ waste “ the doctor’s time , asking questions which the doctor feels are unimportant or irrelevant. This way , both the doctor and the patient can then concentrate on making sure that the treatment process progresses the way it’s expected to.

We need to remember that doctors and medical staff are always going to be in short supply, but there is a never a shortage of patients. We need to unlock the hidden resources which patients can offer, to make sure that they become active partners in their own medical care.

Need help in organsing your IVF treatment ? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so that I can guide you better !

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