Updated: Jun 24, 2022
Richard A Brodsky, MD
MedCompanion is a brand new type of healthcare service that is about to change the way we take care of our family, loved ones, and ourselves. The service sounds simple enough: during a medical visit, a patient opens the HIPAA compliant app (that can be downloaded straight to your phone free from the app store) and then a MedCompanion shows up via a video or audio connection. They listen to the visit, take notes, and ask questions in a process known as virtual presence. Afterward, they type up a summary of everything that happened and make it available as a document to your profile on the app.
But why is this virtual presence even necessary? Aren’t we all capable of handling doctor visits by ourselves? If not, why not just bring a family member or a friend, or have them call in on the phone?
The truth is that things aren’t that easy or simple. Not only is the practice of medicine complex and difficult to navigate, but it is also full of massive amounts of information, scheduling conflicts, and jargon. People may grasp only a small portion of what is said, or they may forget some important points because they were focusing on others. Sometimes the news and advice given during a medical appointment can be stressful, and our brains zone out while we’re so focused on that last statement. Trust me, it happens to all of us, even providers such as myself.
To see the value of hiring and using a MedCompanion, here is a list of five types of people who can benefit from this kind of virtual presence, and why it can be so helpful to them.
1. The Far Away Family or Friend
Many people in the world take care of their health with the help of someone else. These caretakers help us in many everyday tasks, or may only need to be there with us for the most trying of moments. They help us schedule appointments, manage our daily medications, stay on strict diets (or
at least to the best of our abilities), and a host of other responsibilities. They can be anyone in our lives including our spouses, significant others, siblings, children, and even our best friends.
Yet, sometimes those people who are close to us aren’t physically close to us. Perhaps they live in another state, or over an hour’s drive away. Or, perhaps they live in the same house but they are not always available. Our caretakers also have to take care of themselves. They have careers, children, hobbies, and perhaps even medical issues of their own. They need to stay informed to help the ones they care for, but cannot be available to be at every medical appointment.
For these folks, hiring a MedCompanion will allow them to stay up-to-date on everything going on even when they’re not around. The MedCompanion’s report can be made available to anyone the patient chooses so that a caretaker can understand any recommendations made.
2. People Who Get Medical “Brain Fog”
Yes, you read that right, medical “brain fog.” It is a very common occurrence in the doctor’s office, where patients get overwhelmed by all of the information that is coming at them during a visit that they, in no other way to put it, fog up. There are many reasons behind this frustrating scenario, but make no mistake: it has nothing to do with intelligence. Even the smartest people experience this when it comes to their health.
Some patients are so focused on one symptom or question that they completely miss the other things that were said during the visit. Other people get nervous about doctor’s offices or impending labs/scans/workups that they draw a blank. Other patients may have medications or medical conditions that make it very difficult to focus.
No matter the cause, patients can get that familiar sensation we have all felt when we think to ourselves: “I know there was something else I wanted to ask, what was it?” Or when the doctor asks if anything else bothering us and in a panic, we say “Ummm…no I don’t think so.”
Later when thinking back on the experience, a patient may remember their medication change and the need to schedule an x-ray, but completely forget about the three other things they had to do.
A MedCompanion would help this type of person exchange information with their provider in an organized fashion. Before an appointment, a person from the MedCompanion team calls the patient (and anyone they choose to involve in that conversation) to discuss what questions they will want to ask the doctor. This way, if the patient forgets to bring up a subject, the MedCompanion will provide a gentle reminder, or ask on their behalf. And since the MedCompanion is taking notes the entire visit, the report will always accurately reflect any discussions that were had.
3. The Busy Professional
Time is often our most precious, limited, and difficult to manage resource. Only a scant few of us get enough sleep in our daily grind. Jobs, family, and an attempt at a social life can be an ever-demanding sink for our few free hours in the day. Scheduling in time to focus on medical visits can be difficult for a busy professional. Many times, these folks will take a few hours off of work to attend to an appointment, only to be greeted by more things on their schedule once the exam is done. Work meetings. Soccer practice. Grocery shopping. Date night. The list can be ever-growing, and it can be difficult for them to remember everything from their visit hours later when they finally have a chance to sit down and think through it.
Much like those people who suffer from “Brain Fog,” people with extremely busy lives can be distracted by those other elements. They would receive a similar benefit of having a well-prepared “game plan” that was discussed with the MedCompanion team ahead of time. And once the appointment is done, a busy professional can move on with their day knowing that their personalized MedCompanion record will be there to review when they’re ready. They can “deal with” their medical advice once a moment is available. Just please remember to get enough sleep!
While it isn’t live yet, MedCompanion will begin offering a booking service. For the busy professional that doesn’t have 3 hours to research and call around to different specialists, MedCompanion will be there for you. More to come on this soon!
4. People who love “Bad Communicators”
“How did your appointment go today, dear?” Julia asked her husband Ernest.
“Fine,” he replied.
“Did she say anything about your back?” she probed.
“She said I’m doing good.”
“Did you mention that you started having knee pain as well?”
“I brought it up. It’s nothing to worry about,” he mumbled un-assuredly.
“When do you need to go back?” She asked
“Not too soon” he shrugged.
We have all known and loved an “Ernest”. He wants to take care of his issues on his own but is absolutely awful at communicating. Ernest can take many forms: be it a spouse, an elder parent, or an adult child away at college. Either way, the result is the same in that crucial information is lost in the shuffle.
If Ernest and Julia had a MedCompanion, Julia could ensure that all of her concerns are addressed with the doctor and she could receive a report stating exactly what the answers are. Meanwhile, Ernest doesn’t feel pressured to remember everything his wife needs to know because he knows MedCompanion is supporting him along the way.
5. Those with Severe or Chronic Conditions
People with severe or chronic conditions have a very unique perspective on their health. They are often burdened with remembering a massive amount of detail and the history of their illness. They may have numerous medications or surgical histories. They may have visited two or more specialists in a very short period of time and have to carry information from each visit to the next.
All of these details are important during a medical appointment so that your primary provider knows exactly what’s going on. In addition, people with chronic conditions share many of the already mentioned personalities. They are busy professionals, they get brain fog, they have busy caretakers and they may even be bad communicators. Having increased medical needs doesn’t exclude any of our previous points, but it does bring up another issue: frequency.
Chronic or severe conditions may demand multiple medical appointments in a month or even a week. Having a MedCompanion at each of these appointments allows a centralized record of all of them that a patient or family member can refer to at any time. Also, a patient can share their MedCompanion report from one doctor with another right there on the spot within the app on their phone1
For these scenarios, MedCompanion has developed a subscription plan that will offer multiple visits for a reduced price.
6. (Bonus!) Doctors and Medical Providers
This category isn’t a type of patient (although, doctors can be patients too), but doctors will significantly benefit from their patients bringing a MedCompanion into the office. Now, doctors and medical providers may get a little on edge about the idea at first. We can’t blame them, really. In this world they are the target of lawsuits and the thought of having an electronic device listening in the room may make them wary.
However, when they are reassured that MedCompanion never records a session and does not transcribe their words, most physicians can see the immense benefit to their patients having a MedCompanion. After all, what do doctors want most for their patients? They want them to get the best medical care and be healthy! Physicians and their coworkers understand that this happens the most when their patients follow their advice, take their medicine as prescribed, and follow through with all future plans and appointments.
With MedCompanion reports being kept as a record for a patient or their chosen family members, a patient is much more likely to adhere to the medical plan. Also, patients and their families will be less likely to call during and after-hours with questions if they have a report that they can refer to instead. This might give medical providers a little more breathing room in their over-packed days.
Want more information about getting a MedCompanion? Please visit the website at www.medcompanion.com.