Public hearings were recently held to explore the possibility of people getting prescribed medications themselves through self-screenings, kiosks and online questionnaires. Essentially, this would make drugs treating common conditions like hypertension, asthma  and high cholesterol as accessible as nonprescription medications.

According to The American Pharmacists Associations’s senior director of government affairs, Marcie Bough:

“Technology can help supplement the education to a patient, can help provide information about a drug product and the logistics to implement something in the new paradigm to health care providers as well.”

According to Charles Daniels, a chief pharmacist at UCLA-San Diego and professor of clinical pharmacy:

“Broader access to both diagnostics, as well as treatment for patients that are currently not being seen regularly is an important opportunity that might make a difference.  We know there are a lot of patients that just never get to see a physician and therefore whether it’s high blood pressure or diabetes or whatever, they may not even know that they have a chronic disease that is treatable.”

Daniels goes further to explain that technology itself may become so user friendly that the machine instructs in much the same way that a medical assistant at your side would.  An example of this is the external defibrillator that is now readily available.  For those who have seen demonstrations of this technology, the machine itself talks you through the use of it and explains what to do in an emergency situation.

“If a device or devices could be put together than can build that same level of smartness in, and there is a reasonably accessible expert that can help answer the questions for those things that are not obvious, then it might be a way for us to get patients that are currently not being treated, treated faster.”

Not everyone however is in favor of the transition to “do-it-yourself projects” (DYI) when it comes to your health.

The chair-elect for The American Medical Association’s council on science and public health, Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, M.D. points out that seniors who are most involved in the chronic diseases targeted, are not adept at new technologies. She states:

“You have to give out the technology that’s going to work for the person.  And certainly a big chunk of the patients we’re talking about with these chronic diseases are older patients.  So I don’t think that some of the technology is going to be as successful for them as it might be a younger generation that grows up with these new devices and this new technology as they get older.”

Dr. Fryhofer further voices her worry that regardless of how advanced technology becomes, machines cannot completely replace an in-office visit where a physician or healthcare provider might discover additional health problems.

Both sides of the coin have interesting points.  What is your opinion on the topic?