The Doctor Will See Your Data Now: Wirelessly?

Thirty-six percent of consumers interested in sending health data to their doctors via a wireless device; 32% would do a video consult, survey says.
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Thirty six percent of consumers say they would be interested in sending health data to their doctor via a wireless device and 32% said they would be willing to consult their doctor via video. That's the conclusion of a survey released this week from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

The report--The New Role of Technology in Consumer Health and Wellness--also found that of the 37% of respondents who own a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet computer, fewer than one third (31%) have downloaded a health or wellness application. The survey predicts that the rate of ownership is likely to increase as wireless services and device capability improve.

"This is a big opportunity for [health app] developers because we're still in the fairly early stages of smartphone and tablet adoption," Ben Arnold, senior research analyst at CEA, told InformationWeek Healthcare. "When ownership reaches above 50% we could see a fundamental shift in the way consumers think about health tech, as sensors improve, cameras become more sophisticated, and processors become more robust."

The report relied on interviews with 1,679 individuals between September 21 and 29 and examines consumer perceptions and attitudes about using technology products in maintaining their health and wellness. The survey defined health technology products as those designed to monitor health diagnostics and patterns, communication devices, information and reference services, and products designed to help treat health conditions.

[ For more background on e-prescribing tools, see 6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch. ]

With regard to seniors, the research showed that older adults found apps to be a fairly new concept and few of those over 50 appreciated how technology devices could help them monitor, track, or manage their health and wellness.

Several efforts to spur adoption of health technology devices among seniors are underway, including the development of such devices by Intel-GE Care Innovations. Others, like the Center for Technology and Aging, are issuing grants for projects that advance mobile health adoption among seniors. Unfortunately, the report noted that many older adults believe using these devices would just make their lives more stressful.

Among survey respondents more familiar with the benefits of using technology devices for their health, the report revealed that:

-- Nearly half (48%) said they are willing to share data on their blood pressure, 42% are willing to share information on their weight loss and gain, and 41% would share their heart rate levels.

-- Consumers are most willing to share their health data with their physicians. Interestingly, one in four (24%) are willing to share data with health and technology device manufacturers while just 16% said they felt comfortable sharing data with governmental agencies.

-- Health device users most often use heart monitors/cuffs and blood glucose meters. Data collected and tracked by these devices are often delivered to healthcare providers via the actual device--patients bring the entire device to their doctors' offices for data uploads and analysis.

-- Users felt that the value of health devices and apps is their ability to show and analyze input data. If a service were available that provided recommendations based on their data, it would motivate positive changes in behavior.

-- Overall, just 14% of consumers expect to buy a health technology device in the next 12 months.

According to Arnold, this growing interest in health technology has broad implications. It "brings in to question how governmental agencies will regulate these consumer devices. With wider adoption on the part of the user and recommender (the doctor), mechanisms will likely need to be put in place to ensure the data from these devices is correct and any recommendations made are warranted."