The Importance of Primary Care Physicians in Technology-Driven Healthcare Environments

In this article, we discuss the graying line between technology and healthcare and the importance of your primary care physician as technology becomes more prominent throughout the patient journey.

 Technology Can Be an Effective Healthcare Tool

Technology companies have developed amazing artificial intelligence (AI) applications for the field of medicine. For example, Google deployed an app with AI technology that helps remote healthcare professionals to recognize diabetes-related retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness.

Though this technology can be remarkable, sometimes patient care suffers as the line between technology and healthcare becomes blurry. For example, in early March of this year, a robot at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center’s emergency department in Fremont, California delivered heartbreaking news to an elderly patient. Over the robot’s video screen, the patient and his family learned that his lungs were failing and he did not have long to live. No doubt, this was not the fault of technology but a reminder for hospitals and group practices to continually review their policies and establish rules when new technologies become integrated into the healthcare system.

Technology Can Also Be Its Own Healthcare Service

Technology companies aren’t just developing tools for medical practitioners, though. They are also venturing into the actual practice of medicine. Recently, Onduo, a Google joint venture with a major pharmacy chain, announced its “virtual diabetes clinic” designed to coach patients who are managing their disease. In Brooklyn, New York, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) opened a brick-and-mortar Cityblock clinic that promises a “personalized health system” experience for low-income patients. Amazon is also well on its way to launching a healthcare company in partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan. To manage its growing healthcare portfolio, Apple has recently hired more than 50 physicians.

There’s little doubt that technologies have transformed American healthcare for the better, but something as simple as searching for healthcare solutions online raises many concerns from the medical community, one of which is misinformation. What is the first thing we do when we have a medical question? Google it. A recent article in The Health Care Blog noted that nearly 80 percent of internet users searched online for health-related information.

Your Primary Care Physician Needs to Be with You Every Step of the Way

The underlying problem is that a person coming in for a doctor’s visit with information from the internet may have their mind made up about their issue and treatment before they even set foot in the doctor’s office. In cases like these, the knowledge, expertise, and experience of a healthcare professional becomes distanced from the patient. Being an informed healthcare consumer is crucial — and something we empower all our members to become. But it’s also crucial to develop a primary care relationship with a doctor who understands your challenges and preferences and can help advocate for you in your healthcare journey.

As a Canopy Health member, you have access to our state-of-the-art alliance of Bay Area physicians, hospitals, and care centers. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate the complex healthcare system alone. Instead, your primary care physician (PCP) and care management team will help you build a plan and identify strategies to help you avoid complications and improve your overall health. Your PCP will oversee all of your healthcare needs and can refer you to any specialist within the Canopy Health alliance through our Alliance Referral Program. Because our physicians focus on preventive care, their goal is to identify and proactively manage chronic healthcare issues rather than letting them get worse over time. Our alliance includes talented PCPs at Hill Physicians Medical Group,John Muir Physician NetworkMeritage Medical Network, and Santa Clara County IPA (SCCIPA).

We use cutting-edge population health management strategies to improve our members’ experiences and outcomes. Canopy Health and its alliance carefully study members’ health data, track their outcomes and risk factors, and assess physicians’ performance.

The Role of Transparency in Coordination of Care

In addition to embracing technology and fostering empowering relationships between PCPs and patients, Canopy Health is at the forefront of efforts to:

  • Shift the focus of healthcare toward wellness and prevention rather than illness and treatment
  • Increase price transparency to help consumers make cost-conscious decisions.

Recent high-profile cases of price gouging such as the one experienced by users of the EpiPen, a device that delivers a life-saving injection of epinephrine, have highlighted arbitrary pricing practices within the healthcare industry. More commonly, minimal coordination and communication between providers causes patients’ out-of-pocket expenses to skyrocket from duplicate procedure billing, unnecessary tests, miscommunications, and other inefficiencies.

Modern healthcare organizations such as Canopy Health use coordinated care to reduce members’ out-of-pocket expenses, improve healthcare outcomes, and provide a positive patient experience. As a member, you benefit from physicians and care managers working together to identify your unique healthcare needs and any potential roadblocks to care. You also have tools in the MyCanopyHealth mobile app and member portal like the cost estimator and out-of-pocket accumulator so you can more clearly understand your costs.


Millenson, M. L. (2019, January 7). Google is quietly infiltrating medicine – But what rules will it play by? The Health Care Blog. Retrieved from

Woolfolk, J. (2019, March 9). Fremont family upset that Kaiser let “robot’ deliver bad news. The Mercury News. Retrieved from

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