More and more Americans are keen on the idea of using mobile devices to better monitor their health, according to new survey findings released Tuesday.
The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive and HealthDay, revealed that one-third of Internet-using adults expressed interest in using smartphones or tablets to make doctors appointments, receive medical test results of communicate with their doctors.
Similar numbers of respondents were eager to use mobile phones and tablets for actual healthcare services, including monitoring blood pressure (38 percent) or blood sugar (32 percent). Out of all age groups from 18 through 65 and older, individuals aged 25-29 expressed the most interest in obtaining diagnostic tests using mobile devices.
"This poll shows us that the public is interested in using these apps," said Titus Schleyer, head of the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Regenstrief Institute, in a press statement. "But the healthcare system has to make it easier for them to do it."
Right now, many of these phone and tablet apps for these type of diagnostic tests are either just gaining traction or not yet available to consumers, researchers said.
Despite more than one-third of Internet users indicating an interest in using mobile devices to manage their health, the majority remain unconfident in the privacy capabilities of mHealth devices, specifically with protected health information.
Out of the 2,000 survey respondents, only 13 percent said they were very confident in the privacy of their medical information online. More than one-third indicated they were not very confident or not at all confident regarding mHealth privacy.
The advancements in medicine over the last 50 years are remarkable. Diseases once thought of as terminal are now curable. Chronic conditions today can be treated far more effectively than just a decade ago, making a huge impact on a patient’s quality of life.
Our nation’s health care system, however, has not kept pace with modern medicine. The system is fragmented, expensive, and often confusing. But I believe a renaissance is on the horizon. And as with any true renaissance, it’s all about our willingness to share information and test new theories.
My predictions include a meritocracy for doctors, a massive reduction in patient costs, and more.
We will see a democratization of medical knowledge
The technology already exists for health information to be published, catalogued, and searched by anybody online. As this trend spreads, this democratization of medical knowledge will offer clinicians worldwide a chance to learn from each other and improve the quality of care. What’s more, platforms that unlock the crowd-sourced wisdom of the medical community will offer patients immediate access to doctor's guidance
A transparent meritocracy amongst doctors
Patients typically choose their doctor by either word-of-mouth referral, or online consumer reviews of a doctor’s bedside manner, waiting room decor, or office staff’s disposition — not by the quality of care they provide. That’s because most consumers aren’t qualified to assess how a doctor’s care affects health outcomes.
Finally — consolidated patient information!
Despite the increasing prevalence of electronic health records, patient information is stuck in the days of the Wild West. Information is siloed in non-interoperable data repositories, from EMRs to health devices, managed by different parties, and stored in various formats.
Tech will catalyze drastic system-wide cost savings and efficiencies
When 30 to 40 million Americans enter the healthcare system in 2014 under Obamacare, our current system will experience enormous demand shock. Without structured change, the influx of previously uninsured patients will yield a shortage of doctors and will strain doctors’ time and resources, particularly among primary care physicians.
Our medical knowledge will advance at record speeds
Medicine will benefit from the wisdom of crowds. With transparent, large-scale knowledge sharing across doctors and patients, medical experts will collaborate to refine treatment regimens, discover new approaches to old problems, and share feedback on unexpected outcomes at a pace previously unimaginable.
Doctors will be trained to bring “care” back into “health care”
The average doctor-patient encounter in the U.S. lasts seven minutes (largely a function of reimbursements being tied to the number of patients seen). As a result, doctors are hard-pressed to find time to build meaningful relationships with their patients.
Not surprisingly, patients often complain about their doctors’ bedside manner. Technology can actually help foster a stronger culture of care in a fast-paced world – when visits are more efficient, doctors have more time to hold a hand, share a smile, alleviate anxiety, and talk with each patient. We’re already seeing medical schools adapt curricula to emphasize making patients feel better not just physically, but also emotionally. Technology will accelerate this trend by providing doctors ongoing access to peer feedback about their medical knowledge and patient feedback about their bedside manner. The result? Making patients healthier and happier.