Provider, consumer attitudes differ on health technology

While both consumer and provider respondents to a survey conducted by Scripps Health expressed support for new health technologies, consumers were far more enthusiastic about such offerings than their provider counterparts.

The survey, published this week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, asked about consumer and provider attitudes on the following topics:

  • New technology use
  • Privacy
  • Medical health records
  • Cost and transparency
  • Physical exams and imaging
  • Data analysis

Of 21,812 healthcare professionals polled, 1,406 responded; 1,102 of more than 456,000 consumers responded, as well. Nearly 40 percent of consumers said they were OK with using technology for self-diagnosis of non-life threatening medical conditions, compared to only around 14 percent of providers. Twenty-eight percent of providers also expressed apprehension about consumer use of technology for self-diagnoses, compared to 16 percent of consumers.

Other findings included:

  • Sixty percent of providers and 65 percent of consumers supported use of a smartphone for the collection of heart-rate information, but providers were not as supportive for using such devices to perform blood tests
  • Consumers (42 percent) were more worried about privacy and security than providers (35 percent)
  • Forty-three percent of providers thought they "owned" their patient's medical records, while nearly 54 percent of patients believed they owned their own health records

A vast majority of providers (90 percent) also believed that patients would be more anxious after viewing their health records, compared to 34 percent of consumers; nearly 82 percent of providers said access would lead to "unnecessary medical evaluations," while only 25 percent of patients agreed.

"The new technologies exemplify the disruption of existing systems of healthcare," study author Eric Topol, who serves as director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, concluded. "As medicine gets increasingly digitized, the forces favoring democratization will likely be intensified."

In a recent interview with Robert Wachter, interim chair of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Topol said that while health IT has helped grow a collection of data, related analytics are not yet the industry's strong suit. What's more, he said that increased data collection by patients is "not about treating oneself," but rather it must be a tool to supplement provider care.

Additionally, Topol and Leonard J. Kish of Unpatient.org, are making a push to allow individuals to seize ownership of their data "in order for the real benefits of a new, data-driven high-definition era of medicine to be actualized."

To learn more:
- here's the JMIR study

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