Majority of patients use mobile device to send info to providers

Despite concerns about the potential risk to data security and privacy, consumers are becoming more comfortable with the idea of using a mobile device to manage their health.

According to an online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults, conducted by communications firm Ketchum, nearly six in 10 Americans with a smartphone said they’ve shared information with a medical professional through a smartphone, mobile app or wearable device.

Further, about half of those surveyed indicated that they have an app that tracks fitness, working out, health or medicine, while one in four respondents said they have emailed or texted a photo of a medical issue to their doctor.

“Tools for healthcare management are increasing, and people are using them in new and complex ways,” says Valerie Delva, health strategy director at Ketchum North America. “Though current attitudes toward using mobile technologies for health at the individual level are quite complex, the insights here also speak to broader trends in the health ecosystem and the potential for these technologies to help improve health outcomes.”

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At the same time, about half of Americans said that they have a lot to learn about how mobile health technology can benefit them. Almost one in four admit that health and fitness tracking apps have made them feel bad, and more than one in five of those surveyed have stopped using certain apps.

And, although the majority of respondents indicated they have used technology to interact with a medical professional, nearly two in three said they still prefer face-to-face interaction with their healthcare providers.

“Even though people are interested and want to use technology to interact with their healthcare providers, there is also still a strong population that does value face-to-face interaction, and I don’t think that the two are mutually exclusive,” says Delva.

Lisa Sullivan, executive vice president and North American technology practice leader at Ketchum, suggests that one of the most surprising findings of the survey was that two in five Americans said that they’re comfortable using artificial intelligence.

“That’s something that we weren’t necessarily expecting to see,” adds Sullivan. “When we think about the use of artificial intelligence in the healthcare sector, we’ve been talking about it more in terms of using it to make sense of the data generated by research, not so much from a consumer engagement standpoint.”

About a third of respondents indicated that they are likely to use an AI search tool such as Siri, and 31 percent said they would be open to an AI health tracker. However, Americans are not amenable to the idea of using an AI medical adviser (18 percent) or an artificially intelligent therapist (9 percent).

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