As the pandemic has made doctors tougher to reach and health care a more public concern, patients are increasingly taking on more health care tasks themselves, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).
The big idea: Do-it-yourself health care stems from consumer frustration with a strained health care system that is facing worker burnouts, staff shortages, overloaded service providers and longer wait times. Patients are increasingly embracing the convenience of programs like at-home medical tests and apps and self-operating gadgets like smart watches and personal devices for tracking their own health. These devices can offer them the ability to monitor their own hormones, blood pressure, EKGs, blood sugar, cholesterol and other wellness indicators without seeing a doctor.
The pros: At-home tests and measures can often provide test results efficiently and conveniently. Many apps allow patients to have their medications reviewed and adjusted every two to three months, reducing the need for in-person appointments. Providers can review input more quickly and make recommendations remotely. Do-it-yourself health care can also remind patients when they are due for routine tests, such as mammograms and colon-cancer screenings, without having to rely on doctors’ notifications, and help patients shop for the best prices on prescriptions or order lab tests.
The cons: Some gadgets can be helpful in general but might not be as accurate as a patient might like. Patients might also misinterpret their results without the help of a doctor, and targeted self-care tests might miss larger or more pervasive problems that a medical professional would be more likely to notice.