41% Want Mobile Healthcare: PricewaterhouseCoopers

An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but an increasing number of Americans want their mobile phones and remote devices to do so. That’s what the intelligence firm PricewaterhouseCoopers says in its report, Healthcare Unwired, released today at the International mHealth Conference in San Diego. The firm surveyed 2,000 consumers and 1,000 physicians …   Read More

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An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but an increasing number of Americans want their mobile phones and remote devices to do so.

That’s what the intelligence firm PricewaterhouseCoopers says in its report, Healthcare Unwired, released today at the International mHealth Conference in San Diego. The firm surveyed 2,000 consumers and 1,000 physicians regarding use and preferences for remote and mobile health services and devices. Forty-one percent of patients would prefer to have more of their care delivered via a mobile device; 56 percent say they like the idea of remote healthcare; and doctors cite faster treatment decisions and cost reduction due to mobiles.

Clearly, there is a very strong interest among consumers and physicians alike to have health needs administered via phones. And PricewaterhouseCoopers is not the only research and intelligence firm to reach this conclusion. Deloitte recently talked up the idea of health records embedded on consumers’ handsets. But the new report shows how willing Americans–both patients and doctors–are to adopt mobiles as part of the healthcare system.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ findings on the patient side include:

  • Thirty-one percent of consumers are willing to incorporate an application into their existing mobile phones to be able track and monitor their personal health information.
  • Forty percent of consumers are willing to pay for a device and a monthly subscription fee for a mobile phone application that would send text and e-mail reminders to take their medications, refill prescriptions, or to access their medical records and track their health.
  • Fifty-seven percent of physicians said they would like to use remote devices to monitor the patients outside of the hospital.

Meanwhile, findings from the healthcare providers surveyed include:

  • Among physicians currently using mobile devices in their practice, 56 percent said the devices expedite decision making and nearly 40 percent said the use of mobile devices decreases time spent on administration.
  • Forty percent of physicians said they could reduce the number of office visits by 11 to 30 percent by using mobile health technologies like remote monitoring, email or text messaging with patients.

Of course, recalcitrance on the part of insurers, hospitals, and the bureaucracy at large will be a major obstacle. After all, the report notes, healthcare cost reimbursement in the United States is based on in-person interactions. But the wary should look at a test program that Kaiser Permanente deployed last year, in which SMS alerts saved $150 per appointment, which equated to a total cost savings of over $275,000 at a single clinic.

Mobile healthcare, then, could pay for itself. And that’s something to make both medical practices and patients happy.

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9 comments

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