In the United States, patients are showing considerable interest in e-Health solutions. A large majority of them would agree to, or actively wish to, use services provided through digital channels. However, they are still not ready to give up “face time” with their doctor and are also sensitive to information security issues.
Some 90% of all patients in the United States cite the Internet as the channel of choice for
accessing health information, either to help manage their conditions more independently or
to arrange consultations or treatment. The Accenture Connected Health Pulse Survey, carried
out in spring this year among 1,100 patients, found that 83% of patients want the convenience
of being able to access personal medical information online, while 72% think it would be
useful to be able to book, change or cancel appointments with their doctors that way and the
same number would like to request repeat prescriptions via the Web.
Fixed versus mobile
However, 73% of the patients polled would specifically prefer to request their repeat
prescriptions by mobile device, just slightly more than the 72% who cited the Web. However,
despite the fact that a mobile phone would seem the ideal means of changing a doctor’s
appointment, 72% of the patients surveyed say they would prefer to do so via the Web, with
only 68% of the respondents saying they preferred to use a mobile device. When it comes
to reminders, the gap gets wider. Some 88% of respondents said they would be interested in
receiving digital reminders for preventative or follow-up care via email, versus 63% who are
keen to receive the same reminders through their mobile devices.
Limits to the development of e-Health
Despite the increasing general interest being shown in e-Health, there are a few obstacles
which might hinder its progress. The first is that patients still want to be able to see their
doctor in person, 85% of respondents stating they wished to keep the option of “face time”. A
second stumbling block could be issues of privacy, as this matters to the 46% who said they
were not yet prepared to see their own health records made available online. A third factor
is lack of awareness. When asked whether their doctor had made their health records – bill
paying, electronic reminders, laboratory results, etc – available online, 35% of the survey
respondents said they simply did not know.