Study: mHealth can boost treatment outcomes, patient communication

Two in five physicians believe using mobile technology for communicating with patients can boost treatment outcomes, and just as many have increased use for that reason in the past year, according to a new study from Manhattan Research.

The report, "Taking the Pulse U.S. 2014," reveals that 47 percent of doctors using a smartphone have used the device to share images and videos with patients, and that more than a third of physicians have prescribed a health app in the past year.

What's more, while video consults are described as relatively rare, 25 percent of doctors said they have used the technology to communicate with patients using a patient portal, and more than one in five said they have interacted with patients on messaging platforms. Additionally, more than 20 percent of respondents said they had monitored patients remotely, with those doctors monitoring an average of 22 patients a month.

"As we move to an outcomes-based model of healthcare provision in the U.S., remote monitoring and telehealth are going to drive an extension of the point of care," Manhattan Director of Physician Research James Avallone said. "We're seeing physician attitudes really align with policy."

A report published last fall by Manhattan found that 95 million Americans are using mobile phones for health information or tools. Among the other findings of the study: consumers access health information on mobile phones at home, not just on the go, and mHealth adoption, activities and attitudes vary greatly among the patient audiences tracked.

Some experts have noted that mHealth apps are still a novelty due to little guidance for consumers on quality. Still, successful inroads are being built, such as proven effectiveness in using mobile devices to assess and care for burn-unit and emergency patients.

The Manhattan report states its findings prove that medical professionals are focusing more on population health in embracing digital technology.

"There's a perception out there that the shift in focus to population health isn't yet on physicians' radar," Manhattan VP of Research Monique Levy said. "This data shows physicians are thinking about patient outcomes and indicates an opportunity for companies that can provide them digital tools to help them meet their targets."

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