Digital Therapeutics

DTx for Doctors: Can Digital Therapeutics Make the Healer Healthier?

Debjani M Arora ,
July 2021

Do doctors need other doctors – to heal them, to make them healthier and steer them away from an illness or diseases? Why do we need to think so much when the answer should be a direct – yes? The reason is – Perception. That is how we perceive doctors – why would a person armed with so many prestigious degrees out to help, heal, and treat humankind need any kind of assistance in return?

 

I have experienced this ignorance towards doctors firsthand. Long back in school, one of our friends was visibly upset and distressed. When we probed her, she said her mother was severely ill. Ignorant and unemphatic, we burst out laughing. How could her mom, a reputed gynaecologist in the town, fall sick? It is only now that with age and some stray grey stands on my head; I realised how selfish we are in our thoughts pertaining to doctors and their well-being. We think their degrees and skills make them resistant to any kind of malaise.

Why do we have such a perception? 

First, we forget that doctors are also humans, mortal beings just like you and me. They are doing their job and at their desk for long hours like us (or on their feet, being elbow-deep inside a human body trying to save a diseased organ and give someone a new lease of life). Of course, their job is far more serious and consequential than any one of us. Unlike us, they cannot miss deadlines, take a chance, leave their work for the next day or take an uncalled break any moment. They are dealing with other people’s lives – it is like walking that tightrope every single second where even the slightest of mistakes could cost both sides (doctor and patient) dearly. How does this affect a doctor’s well-being and mental peace? We seldom give a thought.

Doctors are humans too

Being a doctor doesn’t make one resistant to various diseases and illnesses. Work pressure, long queues of patients, unending waiting lists for life-saving surgery – leaves a doctor with little or no time for self-care. Many doctors fail to follow what they preach – maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle. They often skip health checkups which could lead to flare-ups of their symptoms and underlying illnesses. Dealing with situations where human lives are at stake involves persistent work pressure and stress, which affects doctors’ mental health. This stress elevates the possibility of doctors suffering various health problems.

According to Indian Medical Association’s research, deskbound jobs and inactive lifestyle, lack of exercise, stress and obesity are primary instigators of heart diseases in the medical fraternity. Doctors avoid having a regular medical checkup and tend to rely on self-diagnosis and treatment. This often results in severe outcomes in the form of sudden heart attacks that can cause loss of life even in young age groups. 

Imagine an ophthalmologist (an eye specialist) treating symptoms of his/her heart diseases.

It is no surprise that the lifespan of a doctor is between 55-59 compared to an average Indian living up to 67-79 years. We aren’t just making out these numbers, these are statistics that came out after a detailed decade long study in Kerala. Of course, the data is restricted and cannot be extended to the rest of the country but we know if the numbers differ in other states (if at all), it would be marginal.

In a country like ours, where the doctor-patient ratio is 1:1456 against the WHO recommendation of 1:1000, shorter lifespan of doctors is a major concern for public health.

Doctors and lifestyle disorders

A doctor’s lifestyle, lack of time for self-care, exercise and untimely meals, makes them prone to various lifestyle disorders. The prevalence of diabetes and obesity among doctors is also high, as pointed out in a study published in November 2019 in the International Journal of Scientific Research. Among the 180 doctors interviewed (Palakkad district, Kerala) for the study using the Indian Diabetic Risk scoring questionnaire, the prevalence of overweight and obesity was 42.8 and 40 per cent, respectively. More than 50 per cent of doctors were at medium risk and 20 percent were at high risk scoring for diabetes.

The verdict: There is an urgent need for early detection of diabetes and lifestyle modification among doctors. This isn’t just a one-off study that we can pass off as geographically dominated data.

A similar study done in Pondicherry among healthcare professionals found a high prevalence of obesity and diabetes among them. The study highlighted a high prevalence of obesity and diabetes mellitus among healthcare physicians and doctors have to be “motivated” enough to take care of their health and prevent lifestyle disease-related complications.

Another study done in Tamil Nadu, indicated high prevalence of diabetes, hypertension and obesity among doctors and nurses.

A doctor’s profession calls for immense mental health challenges, which is why suicide among doctors is becoming a common occurrence. The two root causes for this are stress and depression, which plagues the medical fraternity in developing countries, denote studies.

The pandemic and doctor’s health 

The recent pandemic has claimed the lives of laypeople and healthcare workers alike. Unfortunately, the virus showed no mercy to doctors. During the first wave in India, more than 500 doctors were infected with this virus in Maharashtra alone. Till 1st July 2020, at least 70 Indian doctors had lost their lives due to the pandemic. According to the Indian Medical Association, more than 700 doctors lost their lives in the second wave due to COVID-19.

There is also a link between COVID-19 and diabetes established by experts for the following reasons (according to the International Diabetes Federation):
1. Compromised immunity due to diabetes, and
2. An environment of elevated high blood sugar in which the virus seems to thrive well.

So, even for doctors who have one or more risk factors for diabetes (overweight, high blood sugar, abdominal obesity, prediabetes), the scales tilt heavily on the side of the disease. Even for women, a condition like polycystic ovarian syndrome can worsen the viral attack and prolong recovery.

Well, this is not all. Just ahead of National Doctor’s Day (1st July 2021), Fitterfly conducted a survey to measure the degrees of health and wellness of 1,000 doctors. We reluctantly say that the findings were shocking. It was observed that: Over 60% of the doctors had a BMI in the overweight and obese category; while 71% of the doctors had no prior health conditions, 6% had diabetes, 10% had hypertension, and 5% had diabetes and hypertension. As observed, other common health conditions included dyslipidemia, GI dysfunction, asthma, PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), arthritis, migraine, and hypothyroidism.

The survey indicated that: Most doctors had an imbalance of macronutrients in their diet – protein, carbs and fats. 67% of the doctors were consuming deficient protein and an alarmingly high percentage of doctors ~ 77% were consuming more than the recommended amounts of fat.

What can be done? 

There needs to be a radical shift to help the healers heal, keep track of their symptoms and be motivated enough to take care of themselves. This is where digital therapeutics (DTx) can make a difference. Digital therapeutics are customised, tech-based tools that help people manage their conditions in a much improved and innovative way for better health outcomes.

More and more doctors are turning to DTx where scientifically validated apps and devices along with medications help improve patient’s health and quality of life. DTx promises quality care with virtually extended care for patients with doctor’s guidance.

DTx can deliver the same outcomes for doctors too. These artificial intelligence powered tools and programs will help doctors take charge of their lives despite their busy and stressful lives.

How can digital therapeutics help doctors with better health outcomes? 

Doctors worldwide are opting for digital therapeutic solutions to work closely with patients to manage diseases and better outcomes. Imagine the impact it can have on a doctor’s health using the same principle of treatment. Here are a few ways in which it can help:

  1. Better compliance: DTx tools can improve medication adherence with personalised communication that encourage long-term behavioural change in patients (in this case, doctors).
  2. Providing continuous monitoring and motivation: It also plays a vital role to ensure patients are adhering to the dose guidelines by sending timely reminders.
  3. Use of personalised data for treatment planning: DTx is also about personalised care, where data is collected from the patient to provide the best healthcare solution and better outcomes. Know that for conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, it is never a one-size-fits-all solution. Every individual needs a different approach. This is where DTx differs from the conventional pop-a-pill method of treatment. With our highly scientific program Diabefly – 90% of our patients have seen a significant drop in HbA1c, 40% have reduced weight, 25% have reduced medicine or stopped it altogether.
  4. A healthcare buddy on-the-go: DTx tools are catered to the patient’s needs and can provide for a diverse population. DTx solutions are their best healthcare buddy on the phone for doctors who follow a busy schedule.
  5. Personalised care: One factor that stops doctors from getting quality care for themselves is the fact that they feel uncomfortable getting treatment from fellow physicians, with DTx even this awkwardness can be taken care of.

At Fitterfly, we use personalised technology for everyday wellness. Our qualified Coaches at Fitterfly provide detailed customised guidance according to one’s age, health condition, and personal preferences. We aim for better health outcomes for our patients and patient satisfaction is our utmost priority. Trying to change doctors and masses’ healthcare outcomes, we offer diverse solutions for lifestyle disorders that can help you manage your condition most effectively and scientifically. We believe in a holistic approach when it comes to treating the body. Our programs take into consideration a person’s mental well-being along with diet and lifestyle modifications.

Each of our Digital Therapeutics (DTx) programs aims at solving specific health problems. Depending on your needs you can choose a program that suits you the best:

  • Diabefly: The most advanced diabetes & prediabetes management program proven to reduce HbA1c levels in 85% of our customers. Give us a call at 022 48971077 (Ext 1)
  • Diabefly reverse: A scientific and advanced program to help you reverse diabetes and live a life free from complications. Give us a call at 022-489-69984
  • Diabefly Pro: A prediabetes management program that helps to control blood sugar levels and stop progression of diabetes on its tracks. Give us a call at 022 48971077 (Ext 1)
  • Diabefly GDM: A diabetes care program for pregnant women, which helps to keep sugar levels in check during pregnancy and avoid complications in both mother and baby. Give us a call at 080-471-66404
  • PregStar: Offers an all round expert care for every mom-to-be for a healthy and memorable pregnancy. Give us a call at 022 48971077 (Ext 4)
  • HealPCOS: India’s first & only PCOS management program designed by experts aimed at helping women live their best life despite the challenges of the condition. Give us a call at 022 48971077 (Ext 3)
  • Reset23: Lose weight in the most scientific way and achieve a healthy BMI of 23 kg/ sq m (normal BMI). Give us a call at 022 48971077 (Ext 2)
  • Fitterfly Immunity Boost: This is a 30-day program aimed to boost your immune system and help you stay healthy and fight various diseases. Give us a call at +9122 48971077

To know more about our DTx programs, visit our website www.fitterfly.com or call us on +9122 48971077.

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