The greatest value of computers is not to automate what you already can do. Their value is to allow you to do things that you couldn’t do before, like measure functional health status in a quick, easy and accurate way.
Many millions of dollars are spent on IT technology in Australia by governments to convert patient-controlled health records to electronic files. This allows better communication between healthcare providers and the patient. However, the greatest value of internet technology to medicine is to improve a person’s functional health status (i.e. restore functioning), prevent disability and relieve distress. Ninety per cent of medical care is directed at improving these parameters.
Until recently these parameters could not be accurately and conveniently measured at the individual level. Now, due to IT technology, they can.
There are now a whole new generation of measurement tools that not only measure physical function, but environmental factors as well. Factors such as alcohol consumption, diet and social support are quantified and measured so that healthcare providers can apply a remedy most appropriate to a patient’s risk factors.
These new generations of functional health assessments (or FHAs) allow healthcare practitioners to determine reliably, validly and accurately an individual’s “loss of function”, the extent of his or her risk factors and their capacity to be “cared for”. These FHAs are a new generation of diagnostic tests.
These FHAs also facilitate the monitoring of treatment effectiveness over time in an ongoing, replicable way. This in turn leads to less invasive “functional lifestyle prescriptions” that are complementary to pharmaceutical prescriptions.
The adoption and regular quarterly measurement of FHAs, and the consequent functional “lifestyle” prescriptions, herald the advent of a more effective and efficient medical and healthcare practice that I call Evolved Medicine.