Digitas Health: Patients whose doctors use apps use more apps themselves

By Jonah Comstock
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AlexandravonPlato Alexandra von Plato

Patients of doctors who use mobile apps in the exam room are more likely to use apps themselves, and more likely to switch medications, according to a new study from communication firm Digitas Health.

In Digitas Health's study of 2,000 patients and caregivers, they found that 33 percent of respondents reported that either they or their physician had used a mobile device at the point of care. Specifically, the survey looked at patients with 20 different disease states over five categories: allergy and asthma, cardiologic conditions, neurologic conditions, diabetes, and gastroenterological conditions

“The Digitas Health Mobile Study sheds new light on how consumers are using mobile to take charge of their health and does so at the disease-related level, which is almost unheard of in other studies,” Alexandra von Plato, President and Global Chief Creative Officer of Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, of which Digitas Health is a member, said in a statement. “These findings will enable marketers to understand how to engage with patients and physicians to leverage mobile to generate better health outcomes. By understanding when, where and how mobile is being used in the healthcare treatment and decision process, marketers can provide more meaningful tools and build stronger relationships with their customers.”

Almost 80 percent of mobile health users told Digitas Health they’d accessed health information for their condition while in a healthcare setting. Patients whose doctor used a mobile device in the exam room were 30 to 50 percent more likely to use their own mobile devices in the doctor's office or pharmacy. One hundred percent of those accessing a mobile device in the exam room said that they would use an app, if recommended by their physician.

Patients who used mobile devices in the exam room were 80 percent more likely to switch to a different medication than those that didn't, a potentially valuable piece of data for pharmaceutical companies. They were twice as likely to request a specific medication. Those who used devices only in the waiting room, on the other hand, were only 25 percent more likely to switch than non-device users. Digitas Health has said before that mobile is a missing opportunity for pharmaceutical companies so this data lends more support to that assertion.

Digitas Health released preliminary results from this study in July. At the time, they reported that 90 percent of patients said they would use an app if their doctor prescribed it, compared to industry data indicating that only 66 percent would fill a prescription for medication from their physician.