Survey: 13 percent of health devices are connected

By Brian Dolan
07:14 am

FitbitA recent IDC survey confirms that there is still a lot of growth potential for adoption of personal health monitoring services among consumers.

IDC Health Insight's latest study based on an online survey of 1,200 people explores consumer's health technology use and purchase behavior of personal health and fitness monitoring, mobile health applications, medical care in non-traditional settings, personal health records and aging in place technologies.

Only 15.3 percent of the respondents said they used some kind of health or fitness monitoring device. About 6.2 percent used devices for monitoring fitness, while 9.1 percent used devices to monitor health conditions. Some 7.6 percent of those surveyed said they used a health or fitness device in the past but not anymore. Not surprisingly, the most widely used devices were glucometers and blood pressure monitors—together making up over 60 percent of devices used by respondents. Additionally, only 13.4 percent of survey takers who said they used devices currently use wired or wireless devices. More than 10 percent did not know whether the device they used had those capabilities.

Consumers satisfied with their personal monitoring device reported that ease of use, peace of mind and the feeling of more control over their health condition were the top reasons they were happy with their device. Over 30 percent of dissatisfied consumers reported price as the main issue with their device. The market is primarily a self-pay market, according to IDC, with nearly 60 percent paying 100 percent out of pocket for a device. On average the maximum price consumers said they would pay for a device is $97 and the average maximum monthly subscription fee would be $28.

Some 58.1 percent of the 172 device users surveyed said they were somewhat comfortable with devices that monitored their vital signs and transmitted that data to a monitoring appliance or healthcare provider. IDC said that boded well for accountable care organizations (ACOs).

Education of consumers and caregivers about the usefulness of personal health and fitness motoring devices is the biggest challenge, IDC analyst Lynne Dunbrack told MobiHealthNews during an interview:

"With all of these technologies -- including personal health records and mobile health services -- a lot of consumer education still needs to be done," Dunbrack said. "That creates a challenge, of course, because the person the consumers would like to turn to is their clinician, primary care provider, or even their care manager from their health plan. Their physicians have a dominant role in encouraging them to use these technologies, but physicians are so strapped for time during that proverbial six minute appointment. It will be interesting to see whether this situation changes some with accountable care organizations (ACOs)," Dunbrack said.

According to a research report from Kalorama Information the market for remote and wireless patient monitoring is set to grow about 26 percent annually through 2014, so these survey results are good news for companies in that market.

The worldwide market for home health monitoring was worth about $10 billion in 2010, according to Berg Insight. The conditions most commonly treated via these remote monitoring services include diabetes, cardiac arrhythmia, sleep apnea, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)--findings that doevtail nicely with the aforementioned survey results that glucometers and blood pressure monitors were top home use devices. According to Berg, more than 200 million people in the EU and the US suffer from one or more chronic conditions where remote monitoring would be helpful.

For more, read the summary survey results.

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