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Frederic Llordachs: “We’re returning to the health care model where the patient received all care at home”

The founder of Doctoralia maintains that medicine is returning to its origins and that we are backing away from the phenomenon of hospitalization.

by #ffbcn

Pictures by Alberto Gamazo

There is still a very conservative model in health care

Frederic Llordachs is what is called a health care and well being entrepreneur. He recognized the potential of the Internet in his field right away, and he admits that many colleagues didn’t take his initiative seriously at first. Currently, Doctoralia, of which Llordach is a founding partner, has more than 2 million users monthly and has a network of more than 73,000 medical professionals.

Does the health care system as we know it have an expiration date?

No, not in an absolute sense. The world is gray, not black and white. Still, there are darker grays and lighter grays. It’s true that the health care system needs to change. There is still a very conservative model in health care, because it’s a more conservative industry than many others, and yet people have a false notion that health care is very advanced. Health care is very advanced in a medical sense, but even so most advances take ten years to get to the market. This doesn’t happen in any other field. Because of laboratory studies and self-regulation. Critics are beginning to demand that we speed up the process. In face, we retain some practices from the nineteenth century and some health care structures from the 20th – or even 19th – century. The health care system is conservative.

thanks to technology medicine will be more human

Does online or “tele-medicine” reduce costs and make the system more agile?

We don’t do tele-medicine. In any case, studies indicate that beyond cost telemedicine allows for more activity at a lower rate. In the sense that the doctor has the capacity to see more patients. Changing the work model of the health care professional will transform the relationship between doctor and patient. In fact, these changes are already happening. Tele-medicine is only a part of what is known as “e-health”. The problem, in any case, is not technological but economic.

You referred to the conservative nature of the industry. Many doctors are resistant to using social networking and complain that patients come to the clinic with a Googled diagnosis.

It’s a real issue. Traditionally we were taught to assume that the doctor is right. The name “patient” implies a passive role. But that is changing. Because access to information used to be asymmetrical. The doctor had a lot more access to information and knowledge than the patient. To access the doctor’s knowledge one had to go to the library or to a bookstore and spend money on obtaining medical studies, reading them and understanding them. That has changed. Now people look for information directly on the Internet. Moreover, if you or a family member has a chronic or severe condition it’s natural that you’ll be researching the latest advances in treatment. This creates discord with the doctor’s traditional expectations. And it creates insecurity. Remember that the doctor who works in the health care system in this country (and other countries) doesn’t have more than ten minutes per patient. Of those ten minutes one might spend five discrediting or affirming the patient’s view. Medical professionals have to recognize that there’s a change in their relationship with patients and accept it. We’re talking about what’s called the empowered patient, who has more access to information. But we’re also talking about a lot of other things, like “apps prescriptions,” distance relationships and a new paradigm that goes far beyond the traditional doctor-patient contact. There’s a point at which monitoring can be done perfectly well at a distance if there has been prior contact in person. You don’t always need physical contact. I would like to think that the clinics themselves could lead this change. The work model has changed. The doctor should make decisions and reach an agreement with the patient. It’s the most human part of the profession.

Changing the work model of the health care professional will transform the relationship between doctor and patient

Will the human element be lost?

Quite the contrary. I don’t think the human element will change. At least until some of the work is done by robots or artificial intelligence, rational thinking will be fundamental. There will come a point when thanks to technology medicine will be more human. It’s paradoxical like that. In some ways, I believe medicine is returning to its origins. Medicine is returning to the time when doctors made house calls and the patient went to the hospital to die. The phenomenon of “hospitalization” in health care arose in the nineteenth century, along with the idea that patients should be treated primarily in hospitals. And now we’re returning to a model where patients can receive all health care at home. This can save time and paperwork, and reap benefits in privacy and comfort. For example, hospitalized Alzheimer’s patients suffer memory disruptions as a result of being away from their habitual environments.

Frederic Llordachs

Frederic Llordachs

Frederic Llordachs

Frederic Llordachs