Their report is the first in almost 3 years regarding technology and health care and explores early adopters for connected health solutions in the US. Here is the Executive Summary:
eVisits — interactions between patients and care professionals that occur online — have the potential to simultaneously help control healthcare costs and allow physicians to dispense routine medical advice quickly and conveniently. Despite these appealing attributes, eVisit adoption among US consumers remains strikingly low. When we look specifically at eVisits that take place in writing, less than a quarter of patients whose doctors offer email have used it, while only 16% have taken advantage of their doctors' online forms for medical visits. A look at eVisit users reveals that they are young, well-off, wired, and proactive about their health. To entice mainstream users to use eVisit platforms, health plans and health systems should address lingering payment issues, position eVisits as equivalent to in-person visits, and provide clear, easy-to-follow instructions and help for less tech-adept patients.
Forrester deduces the issues that are preventing widespread adoption of Connected Health, which I have been on my soapbox about for a few years which include:
1. Lack of incentive for either the patient or the Doctor
2. It's generational, i.e. generally Gen-X and younger are open to adoption.
They call out that users are younger and affluent and despite efforts written into the The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act from Congress are pushing to make electronic communication between professionals and patients the norm.
Health plans have been trying to incent this behavior for years now by providing reimbursement for electronic consultations between patients and their doctors. But awareness and use of this type of interaction has been slow to catch on with either doctors or patients.
I've said it before (search under Connected Health on this blog) and I'll say it again Connected Health is a marathon and not a sprint and health care is personal and changes can take generations.
Kind of nice to see a research firm have the same take, because within the industry objectiveness is hard to find. Then you have articles such as this from the New York Times, that lends the impression that this is a coming wave.
I also think the industry players have a severe case of shiny object syndrome. To move out beyond Connected Health from rural situations and neck pain for remote oil rig operators, there has to be a serious focus on driving a suite of products to the market and simultaneously drive some cohesive solutions to payers for chronic disease who could in turn incent adoption through the last mile (consumers and physicians).
But alas, as I have also said in the past, fragmentation is the enemy with Connected Health and when you have all major players from device manufacturers to Google, to Microsoft, etc. trying to carve out their own slice of the pie then you end up with exactly where the industry is today, the murky middle.
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