Monday, July 29, 2013

Parks Associates Conducts New Study on Online Health Services

Online health services and mHealth services are increasingly embraced by consumers. A new study from marketing research and consulting company Parks Associates has revealed new trends in online health services, finding that 50 percent of broadband households with access to online health services—including real-time video calls with a doctor and prescription refills—are actively using them.

Furthermore, the study found that 20 percent of these households are interested in live chat services with health experts, 15 percent are interested in post-surgery virtual monitoring, and 13 percent are interested in tools to help them manage their medications. Although the idea of virtual health is still relatively new, Americans are, by and large, embracing the services that are available to them and are interested in having more of these services available to them.

Jennifer Kent, a senior digital health analyst for Parks Associates noted that, while 56 percent of households with broadband are “without or unaware” that such services are available to them, their study proves that there is “growing consumer interest. “ She said of these findings, “Many companies also have a vested interest in developing and deploying virtual healthcare as these services can lower costs and even provide differentiation as health reforms try to push more competition in choice of providers/ facilities.”

According to the Federal Communications Commission’s mHealth Task Force, mHealth has the potential to reduce the cost of medical care to the elderly by 25 percent by reducing the number of face-to-face consultations needed. Connecticut-based research firm Nerac projected that, by 2020, 160 million Americans (or more) would be monitored and treated for a chronic condition using these tools. Electronic prescriptions, the FCC says, could save Americans $29 billion in the next decade.

While mHealth, alone, will not solve the problems that face our healthcare system today, the findings are promising. By increasing awareness among healthcare consumers and making more services available, the benefits of mHealth have the potential to be profound, and, as evidenced by the Parks Associates study, consumers are interested.

From the article, "Parks Associates Conducts New Study on Online Health Services" by Ryan Sartor.

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