The world as we know it is ever-changing and we are all sitting around contemplating what the future holds. We, as a team, feel as if a new medical model will emerge from these unprecedented times. One that can be compared to riding a tandem bicycle with many spinning parts and more than one person in control. It will be continuously developing and adapting to your health needs!
Health is multifactorial. It has varying components, all of which matter differently to each and every one of us. Some people base their health primarily on how they are feeling, while others base it on what their doctors tell them. However, in our book, health is made up of many elements: how you feel, what you can do, your body’s resilience & adaptability, and last but not least varying lab values & data you receive from any number of healthcare professionals.
In the traditional model of medical management, a reactive approach has been adopted. When something goes array and signs of a problem arise, we react, treat, pat ourselves on the back, and then wait for the next cause for concern. This is a cyclical pattern, with only intermittent follow-ups and lack of continuity of care. Think about it this way: dog sees a squirrel, dog reacts and chases squirrel, squirrel goes away and well, the dog just sits and waits for the squirrel to reappear. Sounds like current healthcare management, doesn’t it? It can be a never-ending repetitive cycle.
Well, folks, good news! This outdated “reactive approach” to medical management is sure to change in the near future. During the recent & continued course of social isolation & rapidly changing guidelines, proactivity in healthcare is gaining popularity. Instead of utilizing a response model, a proactive model is being introduced where an individual takes the helm of one’s own health & wellness.
Diet, sleep, exercise, and environments are all things you have control of in relation to your health. Actively identifying risk factors for poor health is a mainstay of proactive healthcare. Of course, there will be some things you have no control over such as your genetic make-up or the potential risk for disasters or pandemics such as COVID-19. However, why not take control of what you can and monitor what you “cannot”?
The new age of healthcare will be a combination model. It will merge the best attributes of two healthcare models to provide exemplary care. So what are these two models? We like to title them: Synchronous and Asynchronous Healthcare.
A scheduled one on one visit with a healthcare provider is what we consider Synchronous Healthcare. It’s in real-time, whether in person, via video or phone call. After these visits occur, there is typically limited external communication with a provider, unless there are underlying medical conditions which require regular check-ups. It often lends to a wait and see approach. Asynchronous Healthcare involves activities & procedures that are performed outside of a clinical setting. It creates more autonomy in healthcare decision making by including self-monitoring with technology external monitoring by a provider. It puts you at the helm of your care, with guidance from others.
So how do these two healthcare models work together. Here is an example:
You have a regularly scheduled visit in person with your physical therapist every 6 months, where they look at your movement, ask about your goals, your family life, your daily activity, your diet and exercise habits. Typically, until your next visit, this is where care would end unless something else pops up in the interim. Well, thanks to this new combination healthcare model, your wellness is at the forefront and your care is more comprehensive than ever.
How? Instead of utilizing the wait and see approach, there is now an open line of communication. In between your in-person visits, you meet every other month for a half-hour telehealth visit, and between those you are logging your activity, daily workouts, sleep, and even nutrition into a system that will alert the therapist if there is anything that should receive more urgent attention.
Have you not been sleeping or getting your daily workouts in? Have you been sick or really stressed and overloaded at work? Through these extra monitoring systems in place, your physical therapist should see this, reach out to you, and find out why! At that point in time, it’s up to you and your therapist to develop a new wellness plan instead of waiting until your next visit or injury to pop up!
The merge of these two models is familiar to us as we have been practicing this way quite some time. With the use of online-based applications and intermittent in-person sessions, we provide our patients with both synchronous and asynchronous care options. These trivial times we are currently facing, have allowed us to further examine and educate ourselves on how to implement this structure further to provide better care for our clients. For many practitioners and patients, this model will implement a new outlook on the future of healthcare.
However, what we believe is that this should not be the future, it should be and needs to be now!