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January 19, 2023
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How Digital Health Can Positively Transform the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Patient Power

As the healthcare industry modernizes and develops, patients are increasingly becoming “healthcare consumers”. This, in part, is due to the rising popularity and arguably, normalization of digital health data. Recent years have witnessed the proliferation of fitness, well-being, and health-monitoring apps, with users becoming more and more familiarized with the process of entering and tracking their health data on a digital device. 

Digitally-engaged patients are demanding more independence in their choices, voices, and shared decision-making. (Ahmadvand A, Gatchel R, Brownstein J, Nissen L.)

Using the Sidekick Health DTx platform as an example, we witness how patients can enhance their chronic condition management at home and in between doctor’s appointments. Digital health programs like Sidekick provide patients with tools to take part in independent daily disease monitoring, paying particular attention to disease-specific progress and therapy response. 

With an educational and motivational digital solution at their fingertips, patients are able to play a central role in their disease management and embrace opportunities for new-world engagement with their doctors. 

The Human Element

Communication and trust are at the foundation of doctor-patient relationships. A patient having trust in their doctor, or other healthcare professional, is essential and can have a significant influence on their behavior. Research studies have found that patients who have higher trust in their doctors are more likely to disclose personal information, and be more willing to accept and adhere to the recommended treatment. 

However, with all of the demands of the modern healthcare system, it’s no surprise that doctors often find it difficult to prioritize trust building and empathetic communication between themselves and their patients. Being a technical expert with an in-depth knowledge of diseases and their treatment options is arguably tricky to balance alongside being mindful of patients’ emotional needs, psychosocial backgrounds, and cultural beliefs. 

Furthermore, with both chronic diseases and the cost of treatment on the rise, doctors are dealing with an increasing pressure to do more with less time and resources. 

Digital health programs have the potential to tackle these challenges head on by extending patient care beyond the walls of the doctor’s office. 

Let’s consider how digital health serves to support patients’ previously unmet needs and meet the increasing demands of the healthcare system: 

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Patient Education

Patients themselves naturally play a key role in their health outcomes, particularly when it comes to their behavior and beliefs. With this in mind, education emerges as an ideal supplement to conventional therapy. 

Patients should be equipped with the knowledge on how to self-manage their condition as well as any associated side effects.

Digital education tools delivered via an app can help to improve a patient's understanding of their condition, how to manage it, and how to take their medication correctly.

Being armed with the right knowledge could significantly help to improve patient outcomes and reduce the burden on doctors. Knowledge is power after all. 

A digital health solution like Sidekick’s provides a personalized and educational space for patients to learn self-management tools and gain an understanding of their disease symptoms and triggers through tailored educational content. 

The educational support takes the burden away from the healthcare provider and places it directly into the hands of the patient. Patients receive up-to-date information on their condition as well as a more tailored health experience.

Medication Adherence

It takes time to build a habit and even the most motivated of patients often forget to take their medication. Information alone is not enough to drive long-lasting medication adherence as patient behavior and lifestyle factors also play a huge role. Therefore, any solution aimed at improving medication adherence must consider the patient as a whole. 

Sidekick’s digital health solution offers a more engaging and active experience by giving patients the opportunity to track their daily symptoms through a symptom tracker built into the program. 

Collected data can be shared with their healthcare professional, facilitating a deeper understanding of how the patient is responding to treatment in real time and in their home environment. Digital health solutions can offer powerful, insightful, and motivational support to patients who would benefit from increased self-advocacy in their treatment journey as well as more consistent ongoing care.

By providing patients with the tools and resources they need to stay on track with their medication regime, digital health solutions can improve medication adherence and ultimately lead to better overall management of chronic conditions, fewer hospitalizations, and improved quality of life for patients. This, in turn, presents doctors with the opportunity to monitor their patients’ progress more closely through data generated via the solution, subsequently having a positive impact on the doctor-patient relationship.


In today's healthcare landscape, data plays a crucial role in informing and guiding clinical decision making. One important source of data is electronic patient reported outcomes (ePROs). ePROs allow patients to provide real-time data on their symptoms, treatment response, and overall quality of life. This data can be crucial in guiding treatment decisions and monitoring disease progression. 

As it is self-reported by the patient, this data is often more accurate and reliable than traditionally sourced data, particularly due to the fact that it can be collected frequently in real-world settings. Furthermore, ePROs can be linked to other data sources, such as electronic health records, and provide a more holistic view of the patient’s health status which may encourage more precise targeting of interventions. 

ePROs also have the potential to improve patient engagement and satisfaction.

Being responsible for collecting their own data means patients gain a better understanding of their condition and feel more involved by playing an active role in their own care. 

With reference to the doctor-patient relationship, ePRO data offers a valuable perspective when it comes to treatment decision making. The information provided by the patient can supplement clinician observations and provide a more comprehensive understanding of their condition and needs. 

This utilization of ePRO data to track symptoms over time encourages more personalized treatment plans for patients. By involving patients in the collection and use of this data and encouraging a proactive approach to healthcare, an increased level of trust and collaboration between doctors and patients emerges. 


Digital health solutions have the potential to positively transform the doctor-patient relationship in a number of ways. Growing demands for personalized care and increased engagement in patient advocacy point to digital health technologies as a promising solution.

Digital healthcare has everything to do with where medicine is going, not where it’s been. Today’s digital revolution can remove unnecessary and expensive steps in the healthcare journey and streamline care so that doctors can focus more on the needs of their patients.

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About the author

Bronwyn Hemus

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