You are a Registered Nurse and also work with the Content Marketing Team at Sidekick. How has your work in the hospital informed and influenced your role in digital health?
Apart from anatomical and medical literacy, my biggest advantage is the unique insight into the patient perspective. For example, one of the key roles nurses have within the healthcare system is to be the patient’s advocate — to be their ears and eyes — which gives me a sense of how they think, what’s important to them, and why they behave in certain ways. It’s also the role of the nurse to collaborate with other clinicians to ensure that patients aren’t left with any unanswered questions regarding their treatment or illness. Nurses have to get to know their patients well — their living conditions, family, support system, etc. — to get a better idea of who they are, and to factor these details in when planning their discharge resources for when they leave a hospital setting. This way, the likelihood of them having a relapse lowers and helps them stay on track in their treatment.
This experience not only adds an empathetic lens to my work at Sidekick, but also makes it all the more motivating to drive change and make improvements for patients through digital tech. The experience can also help inform how to get the app into the hands of the people who need it most, and possibly help them live a better life.
From a nurse’s perspective, what’s something you wish more people knew about DTx?
I wish people knew how DTx actually can change patients’ lives for the better. For example, clinical findings show that DTx could have significant positive effects on patient-reported stress and energy levels for people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The same is true for potentially improving disease management among patients with Ulcerative Colitis.
I also think that people living with a chronic illness sometimes feel overwhelmed with the logistics of managing their condition, as there are so many things they have to think about. They know these things – just like you and I know that exercising, eating healthy, drinking water, giving yourself space for mindfulness, etc., are all good for us – but getting the extra support and guidance from a DTx via their own phone is invaluable. Not to mention the gamification and behavioral economics elements woven into the Sidekick app that are there to help the user keep on track.
Based on feedback from users, it’s also clear that being able to manage their health in one place — not scattered between a few apps or notebooks — can often help lighten the mental load of managing chronic illness.
How do you foresee DTx (and its role in remote patient monitoring) improving the day-to-day challenges that clinicians face on the wards and in the clinics?
I worked at a heart and lung surgery ward where our discharged patients were given a time slot to an outpatient department that was remotely run from our ward.
If we were able to monitor these patients from the outpatient department with a remote monitoring tool like Sidekick, it could very likely help with preventing readmissions and free up capacity in the ward for patients with worse conditions.
I also believe that it could give the patients who leave our ward an added sense of security — a little extra hand holding — until they find their feet again. It could be a win-win for both the healthcare system and the patients.
Additionally, a DTx could help prioritize clinicians’ time in outpatient clinics. For example, remote patient monitoring can help triage patients who might need immediate assistance. It’s also a great tool to detect worsening conditions.
Another important point to remember: people are very different and subjective in how they evaluate themselves needing medical assistance. In a lot of cases, people wait too long to get assistance, and managing their condition would have been much easier if they had come in sooner, or if their worsening symptoms could have been detected earlier. One case that comes to mind is the cardiology nurse who detected worsening symptoms in one of her patients during a trial period with Sidekick. This is a great example of the capabilities and practical application of remote patient monitoring, and how, in the end, it has the potential to decrease the cases of relapses and readmissions to the hospital.
Finally, the data gathered from a patient using a DTx could also give deeper, more realistic insights into how people manage their illness outside of the hospital setting. For example, a person might tell a healthcare professional one thing, but in reality, they do something completely different. Knowing this nuanced information could help nurses and doctors focus their patient’s education in the right direction and amend their treatment plan to a more personalized one.