Leveraging Digital Health Technology to Combat Patient Self-diagnosis

Leveraging Digital Health Technology to Combat Patient Self-diagnosis

Callie Wright

Most of us have experienced it. A patient or client sits before us and declares they know their diagnosis and the path to address it. Confronted with both health challenges and complexities in accessing care from healthcare professionals, they first turn to their computers, hoping the screen will have the answers they need. If they are lucky, they find a (mostly) reputable source of information based on scientific knowledge. In most cases, what they read doesn’t apply to nuances of their condition or are practical therapies for where and how they live. Further, the information can be far from accurate and certainly not personalized.


I know I’m not alone when I say Dr. Google has created challenges for my clinical practice. Healthcare professionals everywhere are constantly trying to compete with the litany of websites, forums, and social media threads doling out unsubstantiated health advice and promising quick fixes for people whose health is suffering. I mean, how many clients asked you about drinking bleach at the start of the pandemic?


The online noise is relentless, and I saw its effects on my patients at Revive Wellness in Edmonton. Frustrated with a healthcare system stretched to the breaking point and in a desperate search for solutions, these patients often turned to Google or social media for help but too often ended up back where they started, or worse yet, demoralized and in poorer health.


It’s not their fault, though. I understand where that frustration came from. As a dietitian who has worked in public health for decades, I know the system is overburdened, and its workers are completely burned out trying to keep up with the never-ending demand. Our wait lists keep growing, our time with patients is dwindling, and our ability to provide solid clinical support to those who depend on us is challenged.


These problems aren’t going to go away overnight, and our patients continue to crave solutions they can access when and as they need or want and will give them back a sense of control over their health. This is why we created My Viva Plan.


My Viva Plan was designed to complement the 1-on-1 sessions we have with patients by reducing the time we spend ‘catching up’ on what they’ve been doing since we last met, automating the historically labour-intensive process of building or updating their personalized plans, and then supporting them between visits. My Viva Plan automatically generates personalized plans based on each patient’s preferences regarding food, exercise, and even relaxation & meditation. Furthermore, these plans are entirely evidence-based and clinically validated, which cuts through the noise of Dr. Google and saves me a ton of time, allowing me to spend more time with each patient to get to their real challenges in making the necessary lifestyle changes.

My patients and those of my colleagues in the clinic report that My Viva Plan is easy to use and helps them develop a deeper understanding and connection to their health through its self-guided format. Given that power and knowledge, they no longer need to search for quick fixes and health advice online, and their outcomes have improved. But also, because we’re not forced to spend time explaining why drinking bleach might not be the best path to wellness, we, as healthcare professionals, have more time to devote to getting to the heart of the issue and for more patients. The result is increased clinic efficiency, fewer frustrated patients, and better health outcomes.


We’ve seen how arming patients to be their best advocates benefits the individual patient and the population as a whole. It has even increased the satisfaction we, as healthcare professionals, have in our work, improving our entire team’s satisfaction overall.


By Loreen Wales,

Founder & CEO at My Viva Inc.