Empowering patients in the digital age

In her session, “Patient Empowerment in the Digital Age,” plenary guest speaker Robin Farmanfarmaian will address a host of current breakthroughs in medical technology that are fundamentally changing the way patients interact with their health care and providers. These include wearable sensors, improved point-of-care diagnostics, augmented intelligence (AI), and virtual care. Farmanfarmaian will discuss methods for integrating these new services and revenue streams into the dermatology practice.

Robin Farmanfarmaian

What is one insight you will share about the future of dermatology?

Farmanfarmaian: The use of AI will increase as more and more accurate data is aggregated for AI programs to learn. This is beneficial for the dermatology field, as one of the things AI is best at doing is pattern analysis. AI analysis programs serve as tools that can help physicians and patients catch some problems earlier, when they are easier to treat.

How is technology impacting health care?

Health care is shifting in two major ways. A combination of technology and costs is shifting the point of care to where the patient is located, versus the patient having to physically go to a brick and mortar clinic. Also, patients are becoming more empowered by these same forces — technology and costs — to be in control of their health care: When they want it, where they want it, and how they want it.

If virtual care is the wave of the future, what are the cons of virtual care?

While there are tons of benefits for using virtual care, like most things in life, there are also some cons. Physical human touch is important in the health care relationship, both on an emotional level for the patient and for assessment and diagnostics.

If the physician is relying on data collected by the patient, such as vital signs, there is a risk the equipment is not being used correctly without a physician present. In addition, when the physician is able to see a patient in person, they may notice or catch things that either the patient doesn’t think to mention, or the patient doesn’t know is a symptom or a data point for assessment. Lastly, communication with any subject is always more effective in person, and this can be especially important when dealing with the complexities of health care.

As a non-physician looking in, what do you believe were the greatest challenges to physicians in the last year?

As someone with a high-level viewpoint of health care and technology, not in dermatology specifically, I believe the challenges to the dermatology profession are likely the same as the challenges faced in all other specialties: the high costs of medications and treatments for their patients. No specialty is immune to these rapidly growing costs, combined with reimbursement becoming even more complicated and at times, reduced. This isn’t a dermatology-specific challenge. This is the biggest challenge in health care today.

Currently, Farmanfarmaian is working with a few early stage start-ups as COO for Arc Fusion Programs; as co-founder and former executive director for the Oregon Preservation Alliance; as vice president of Business Development for Invicta Medical; and as president of i4j ECO, a summit to disrupt unemployment through innovation to create jobs and meaningful work for everyone.

Learn more about Robin Farmanfarmaian at www.robinff.com.