Thursday, 16 June 2016 14:07

Dr Google has a lot to answer for

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Four-fifths of women and 69% of men are turning to the Internet for answers to medical questions (Googling symptoms/possible treatments). What is scary is that of those 87% are aged between 18 and 24.

No, this is not an advertisement for your local GP, many of whom can now consult online, but a finding from a global Future Health Index conducted for Philips. Tech is overtaking bedside manner.

A total of 40% of patients aged 18-24 admit to not going to a Health Care Professional (HCP) when they needed to, with the main reasons being limited time, denial they need to visit, and fear of their HCP's reaction or negative results. This highlights the fact that younger Australians aren’t seeking to prevent healthcare issues and delay addressing them when they do appear.

The Index covers a broad range of issues from competency to manage health to electronic health records.

According to Australian patients:

Millennials are more insecure about their health prospects than their elders, indicating a reluctance to rely on available health resources

  • 55% of 18-24-year-olds feel confident managing their own health effectively compared with (76%) of 55+-year-olds;
  • 68% of 18-24-year-olds track key health indicators in their heads as opposed to using technology to monitor their personal health; and
  • 80% of women are turning to the Internet for answers to medical questions (Googling symptoms/possible treatments) vs 69% of men and 87% of 18 -24-year-olds, more than any other generation

Data sharing inefficiencies could highlight an opportunity for reviving e-health records

  • 74% would be comfortable sharing data collected by a connected care technology with an HCP;
  • 70% of patients have had to repeat information regarding their health to multiple healthcare professionals and 41% face difficulty accessing their medical records;
  • 88% of HCPs are willing to, and 86% are already regularly, share information about patients with other HCPs; and
  • 80% of patients are open to sharing their medical history in their medical record.

Rigorous data and privacy protection regulations designed to protect patients in developed countries present challenges to the free flow of information needed in more integrated, technology-driven healthcare systems. In the US, for example, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws prevent health care professionals from sharing any medical information without written consent from the patient. In Germany, 50% of healthcare professionals see privacy and security concerns as a top barrier to the adoption of connected care technology.

Patients not getting the most out of connected care technology

  • 52% of patients are using connected care technology to measure their health, but just 32% say they have ever shared information from this technology with a healthcare professional.

Australia is perceived as being in the top three nations when it comes to access to healthcare. However, we're ranked below the UAE, The Netherlands, and China regarding perceived adoption of connected care technology and the current state of health integration.

Philips undertook the original research to understand the perceptions towards connected care and the role it plays in the future of healthcare. The study will be run annually, included both quantitative surveys and in-depth qualitative interviews. These were conducted from February-April, 2016 in 13 countries. In partnership with an independent global market research firm, a survey was fielded from 24 February to 8 April in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, the UAE, the UK and the US in each country’s native language.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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