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Who Is The Digital Patient?

Posted by Bret Larsen, Oct 30, 2014

Patients are looking for their healthcare providers online, they're reading reviews, looking up symptoms, and embracing all things digital. Patients track their caloric intake, their sleep cycles, their steps, weight, BMI, all through wearable devices. They embrace mobile health (mHealth) and the technologies that make their lives simpler while increasing their quality of life. The number of adults using mobile phones for health information went from 61 million to 75 million in 2012 and the numbers are only increasing. [1] Insurance companies and hospitals are also embracing mobile trends as they see the positive results for patients. In fact, hospital costs dropped 6% for those patients who were originally inactive but became active due to mHealth and wearable tech. [1]

So who is this digital patient?

The Elderly & Young Patient

Nielsen’s Connected Life Report found that young adults lead the numbers on those adopting wearable tech. Consumers ages 18-34 account for almost half of fitness band owners (49%). But the digital patient isn’t just young adults. Seniors are also using mHealth to meet their needs. Consider these statistics:

    • 67% of seniors say that access to their health information is important
    • 70% say they want to be able to request prescription refills electronically
    • 67% want to make online appointments
    • 58% want to email their healthcare providers
    • 15% want to use a mobile device to manage appointments

 

 The Educated Patient

The digital patient is also educated before seeing a doctor. As many as 86% of patients conduct a health-related search before making a doctor’s appointment and “90% of adults ages 18-24 say they’d trust trust medical information that’s shared by others on their social networks.” [2] More than ever, patients are going online to research their symptoms and treatment options before ever setting foot in a doctor's office.

The Empowered Patient

75% of Americans have conducted an online search related to their health in the last year, and more than 33% use social media to research health conditions. [3] However, patients aren’t using this information to ignore their doctors, but rather to have an educated conversation with their healthcare providers. In fact, 50% of all patients who use the Internet to self-diagnose, ultimately schedule a doctor’s appointment. [2] Information is empowering and allows patients to speak to their condition and have a better understanding of what questions to ask. mHealth is positively influencing people to take charge of their own well-being. [3]

More Reading on The Digital Patient

 

References

1. Pennic, J. HIT Consultant. "How Wearable Technology is Transforming Mobile Health (Infographic)." May 2014. Available at: http://hitconsultant.net/2014/05/27/how-wearable-technology-is-transforming-mobile-health/
2. Fathom. MedCityNews. "Healthcare in the age of Dr. Google: the 2014 digital patient journey." March 2014. Available at:  http://medcitynews.com/2014/03/healthcare-age-dr-google-2014-digital-patient-journey/
3. CDW Healthcare. Industry View. "Today's digital patient." September 2014. Available at: http://industryview.cdwcommunit.com/index.php/2014/09/11/patient-infographic/

Topics: eVisit Blog Posts, digital patient, mHealth

Bret Larsen

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