Mobile technology with Internet access driving healthcare decisions, experts report


More patients are turning to the Internet and mobile applications (apps) with the explosive growth of mobile technology devices.

Healthcare decisions are not being made just with physician engagement. More patients are turning to the Internet and mobile applications (apps) with the explosive growth of mobile technology devices, according to experts Brian Dolan of Mobihealthnews and Jeffery Kendall of Kony Solutions.

During last week's webinar moderated by Mobihealthnews Editor Dolan and sponsored by Kony Solutions, more than 1,200 participants heard about the latest trends in mobile engagement and the role of technology in healthcare, which shows no signs of abatement.

Today's patients are more connected and searching the Internet more often than they were 3 to 4 years ago, according to Kendall, Kony's vice president of sales and healthcare.

Patients have greater expectations in terms of their healthcare now, Kendall said. "These patients are digitally empowered. Consumers make decisions differently now. Fifty-four percent of consumers are researching their purchases online before purchasing. Consumer loyalty is dropping day by day," he said.

Because of the increased number of patients researching healthcare online, there is the possibility of spreading misinformation, Dolan said.

"It could lead to a little more hype than we've seen in recent months and years," Dolan said.

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare as well as the volume of patients will change drastically, Kendall said.

"This is creating a tremendous amount of new quality and cost pressures," Kendall said. "As we get this new influx of volume, how do we continue to maintain high quality? Patient communication is a key objective."

According to a survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, about one out of five (19%) smartphone users has a healthcare app on their phone, and 2% of health app users have medication management apps.

"I predict by the end of the year, we're going to start to seeing more coaching services that pair up with these devices," Dolan said.

As evidence of the growing popularity of technology in healthcare, in December, Silicon Valley Congressman Mike Honda proposed the Healthcare Innovation and Marketplace Technologies Act (HIMTA). As a part of the bill, HIMTA calls for an Office of Wireless Health to be established at the FDA, according to a press release.

The proposed new FDA office would, "…coordinate with other governmental agencies and private industry to provide recommendations to the FDA Commissioner on how to develop and maintain a consistent, reasonable, and predictable regulatory framework on wireless health issues," the release stated.

Wireless devices won't be leaving the healthcare scene anytime soon, and Dolan predicts this year more healthcare professionals will begin to prefer tablets over smartphones. Kendall agreed.

"Mobility is not just on its own," Kendall said. "Consumers will often begin transactions in one channel but end in another channel. That transaction needs to carry over from device to device to device."

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