PART 4: Accountability
Author: Imen Maaroufi
“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”
It is important to mention here the issue of accountability in using objective and consistent data, ensuring that specialists can make informed decisions when accessing patient records. How can we introduce a new medication to a patient if we can’t track their immediate and long-term reaction to the treatment? Treating patients with severe brain injuries, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and even children with special needs should not be reactive, but proactive. You would not prescribe an insulin dose to a diabetic child without a way to measure their blood sugar and other health factors. Yet, children with special needs are taking medications that affect their cognitive development without a readily available tool to measure the impact of those medications over time.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) examines, tests and approves items subject to medical use, like drugs and medical appliances. To get FDA approval, drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies conduct clinical trials and testing and submit their data to the FDA. Once the data is reviewed, the FDA can approve the drug “if the agency determines that the benefits of the drug outweigh the risks for the intended use” as defined by law. The FDA intends to permit the widest possible use of electronic technology that respects their responsibility to protect public health.
There are several parties affected by FDA regulations. For example, a newly signed law, the “Special Registration for Telemedicine Act of 2018”, allows physicians and other providers to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine without requiring an in-person exam. This new law is a huge step forward in the telehealth and digital health industry. The primary factor affecting reimbursement for clinical services rendered is legal policy, but when approved for reimbursement, innovations within the sector will continue to flourish, as even healthcare is driven by profitability.
Innovative care models and regulations should work hand in hand—not burdening each other, but helping to document progress while remaining accountable. Bringing Point Motion Inc. as an example again, this tool helps hospitals measure impact with quantified data which in turn not only helps reach an informed decision and increases the accountability for specific treatments, it also makes it easier to apply for research grants when the impact can be measured and documented.
Technology is an essential component to establishing accountability within a context of finite resources (i.e. time and money). As the population grows, tools will be needed to automate the current processes for assessment that require in-person observation, which are at times subjective and prone to error. Without technology to ensure accountability for the gain/loss in various treatments, there will not be a sufficient workforce to personally supervise clients. This could lead to errors in diagnosis, prescription dosing, and result in underserved populations with fewer financial resources.