Study: Consumer Interest in Mobile Health Higher Than That of Physicians

Consumers are ready to take care of their health on-the-go but physicians are still a bit weary of mobile health applications, according to a recent study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The study found that among consumers already using mobile healthcare, 59% said they have used it to replace some visits to their physicians and nurses. It also found that consumers want to use mobile healthcare to manage their chronic conditions and medication, as well as to gain better access to healthcare information and physicians.

Consumers are adopting these attitudes as cellular technology and services continues to improve and as they increasingly believe that mobile applications can improve convenience, cost and quality of care.

“We live in a world that’s connected wirelessly with almost as many cellular phone subscriptions as there are people on the planet. According to the International Telecommunications Union, there were almost 6 billion mobile phones in use worldwide in late 2011. The ubiquity of mobile technology offers tremendous opportunities for the healthcare industry to address one of the most pressing global challenges: making healthcare more accessible, faster, better and cheaper,” the report says.

The problem: Physicians are not quite as ready to take the mobile bait. About 60% of consumers responding to the survey said they believe physicians aren’t as interested in the technology as they are. Indeed, of the physicians surveyed, 64% said that mobile healthcare technology offers exciting possibilities but there are too few proven business models. Further, only 27% of physicians said they encourage their patients to use mobile healthcare while 13% actually discourage it. They listed changing consumer behavior and a lack of updated technology as barriers to increased use.

The global research firm’s “Emerging mHealth: paths for growth” study draws its conclusion based on the results of surveys of consumers, physicians and payers from 10 countries, including the United States.