Improved consumer experience, better security among keys to future mHealth device use

As consumers increase their daily use of devices to track everything from work email to healthcare, companies are going to need to better the consumer experience, have a strong brand to break out in a competitive market and provide both security and privacy of information.

These findings come courtesy of Accenture's 2015 Digital Consumer Survey. For the survey, communications, media and technology companies polled 24,000 consumers in 24 countries. It found that 39 percent of consumers plan to buy a wearable health device by 2020. This is in keeping with the explosion of mobile device and wearable use in the healthcare space. Many have pointed toward mobile as the future of healthcare.

Such devices can improve care in many ways, from easing physicians' schedules and cutting costs to speeding care and giving patients more control, Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego, writes in The Wall Street Journal. He adds that while patients will still see doctors and technology won't completely replace that interaction, the relationship will undergo a change.

Part of the shift toward increased use of mobile tools in medicine will come from "digital natives," predicts digital health philosopher John Nosta. "The role of the smartphone or handheld device to aid in a differential diagnosis or a clinical scenario may become much more mainstream as we see this generation of medical students graduate," he says.

However, Topol also notes that the increased use of these tools also will bring about serious privacy and hacking issues that will need to be addressed. To that end, many healthcare leaders already are implementing a variety of systems and safeguards to ward off hackers and ensure the privacy of patient data.

Another concern that companies will need to address when developing health devices is ease of use, according to the Accenture report. For the survey, more than 80 percent of consumers say they find health wearables too complicated.

Breaking that down further, 24 percent of respondents say that health wearables are too complicated to use, 22 percent say they do not set up properly and 21 percent say they don't work as advertised.

To learn more:
- check out the Accenture report (.pdf)
- read the WSJ article