Consumers’ Use of Health IT Tools Low; Docs Say Data Hold Value

December 23, 2014 in News

Although many U.S. residents hold a positive view of health IT tools, their use of such tools to manage their health care remains low, according to a new report, FierceHealthIT reports (Dvorak, FierceHealthIT, 12/22).

Report Details

The report includes findings from an annual survey by Booz Allen Hamilton and Ipsos Public Affairs, which involved 1,000 consumers ages 18 and older and was conducted online in August 2014.

The report also highlights findings from a separate survey conducted by the groups of 400 health care providers, including:

  • 200 specialists;
  • 100 primary care physicians; and
  • 100 health system and hospital administrators.

The surveys aimed to gauge consumers’ and health providers’ perceptions of health care, including:

  • Advances in and adoption of new mobile technologies; and
  • Use and adoption of health IT.

Report Findings

The report found 70% of consumers reported owning a smartphone or tablet, while just 20% indicated using such devices or interactive websites to monitor or manage their health (Booz Allen Hamilton report, December 2014).

According to the report, consumers cited several reasons for the low use of mobile health tools, including:

  • Security and privacy concerns; and
  • Out-of-pocket costs.

The report found consumers who were older and had high incomes were more likely to use mobile devices to track their health.

Of those who reported using such tools:

  • 60% said they used them for general health reference; and
  • About 50% said they used them for nutritional purposes (FierceHealthIT, 12/22).

Forty percent of consumers said a health care provider had recommended a health application.

Among health care providers, the most commonly recommended apps were for access to medical records, appointment scheduling and secure messaging. 

The report found that 70% of provider respondents believe online and mobile apps “are promising technologies to help patients better manager their health.” Further, 60% of providers said they felt data collected by such apps are valuable and should be included in a patient’s electronic health record.

However, 86% of providers said that online and mobile apps need to be examined carefully to ensure they are providing patients with accurate and easy-to-understand information.

When asked about their own technology use, 87% of hospital physicians and 78% of non-hospital physicians reported using a computer or mobile device while treating patients (Booz Allen Hamilton report, December 2014).

The report concluded, “Improving health care, reducing costs and doing both with expanded focus on prevention and the role of technology will continue to be among key health care priorities for health care for many years” (FierceHealthIT, 12/22).

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