Survey: Few hear about remote health monitors from providers

By Brian Dolan
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Nike+ Fuel BandAccording to a findings of a small consumer survey conducted by HIMSS and sponsored by Qualcomm Life, a majority of consumers are familiar with the term remote monitoring device, only a quarter of those surveyed reported using one before, and only 16 percent had heard about such devices from their healthcare provider. The survey's results were fairly consistent with past surveys -- few of the consumers surveyed had ever used mobile apps to manage their health or remotely monitor a health condition.

The consumer side of the survey included telephone surveys with 125 American adults in January 2012. About 62 percent of those surveyed said they were familiar with the term remote monitoring device, often (44 percent) because a friend of family member used or had used such a device.  About 22 percent said they had used such a device themselves in the past. Interestingly, only 16 percent of respondents said that healthcare providers had told them about such devices. Only 8 percent of those surveyed said they currently used such devices as part of a fitness program -- and that group had a median age of 28 years old. About 5 percent said they were using such a device provided by a physicians.

Those surveyed seemed to be more likely to use remote monitoring devices if their physicians provided them. Also, about 25 percent of those surveyed said they would "absolutely" use this kind of device in the future. Those under 35 years old were much more likely to feel this way than between 35 and 60 or 60 and older.

Perhaps not surprisingly, about 50 percent of those surveyed reported concerns about the privacy and security of their personal health data. About 25 percent worried they would not be able to remember to track their data. Connectivity issues were among the least of the concerns of those surveyed.

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For more on the report, read the press release below:

PRESS RELEASE: CHICAGO (February 21, 2012) – While use of remote monitoring health care devices among consumers is limited at this time, many consumers are comfortable with mobile devices and receptive to physician guidance to utilize new technologies in the future, according to a new white paper issued today by HIMSS Analytics and sponsored by Qualcomm Life Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated. A New Prescription for Chronic Disease-Remote Monitoring Devices also features feedback from senior information technology executives at several healthcare organizations who indicated that use of remote monitoring devices in the home health arena is driven by an interest in enhancing patient care and improving caregiver efficiency.

The surveyed executives noted that use of remote monitoring devices was considered a strategic investment that could better position an organization to become an accountable care organization (ACO). The goal of an ACO is to improve health care on a variety of fronts, including higher quality care and an ability to participate in shared savings. Respondents added that the decision to use technology in the home health environment is often driven by an organization’s management team to increase access to data across an entire patient population so they can make more informed patient care and business decisions.

“Remote monitoring devices can provide enhanced access to information from patients with chronic conditions,” said John P. Hoyt, FACHE, FHIMSS, Executive Vice President, Healthcare Organizational Services, for HIMSS. “The availability of this type of data, when used correctly, can enhance patient care, potentially preventing more intensive therapies by identifying potential areas of concern early.”

The survey of 125 consumers indicates that while awareness of remote monitoring devices is noteworthy, usage of these devices by survey respondents is relatively low. When asked to identify barriers that need to be overcome for further technology adoption, respondents indicated high device price points, concerns about data privacy and security, and concern about making changes to caregiver relationships.

“There is clearly a significant opportunity to increase knowledge of the availability and capabilities of remote monitoring devices through education among health care professionals and patients alike,” says Anthony Shimkin, senior director of marketing for Qualcomm Life. “Unsurprisingly, the consumers surveyed were more willing to consider devices recommended by their caregivers, however few actually received any information about this technology from physicians. We expect that use of these devices will increase considerably in the future as physicians adopt the technology.”

By definition in the study, remote monitoring devices are defined as “devices worn by a person that transmits data into a database. An example might include a device you wear on your arm or wrist that measures blood pressure and heart rate while running.” Using this descriptor, the research, conducted in December 2011 and January 2012, explored the use of remote monitoring devices in hospitals, as well as potential interest in this type of technology among consumers.

Other findings include:

Approximately two-thirds of consumer respondents reported familiarity with the term remote monitoring device.

Consumers reported a moderate comfort level with the use of mobile devices for health care purposes, such as looking up health care information or e-mailing physicians.

Awareness of remote monitoring devices most often comes from friends or family members that have used this kind of device; only 16 percent of respondents noted that they had heard about these devices from their health care provider.

Only 22 percent of respondents reported they had used a remote monitoring device in the past. Eight percent of consumer respondents are now using a remote monitoring device as part of a fitness program.

While only five percent of respondents are using remote monitoring devices as prescribed by a physician, one quarter of respondents noted they would “absolutely use a device were it prescribed by a health care professional.”

More than half of the consumer respondents (59 percent) reported concerns about the privacy and security of patient data transmitted on a remote monitoring device.

While access to reliable wireless network connections is a key barrier to the successful use of remote monitoring devices, in general, patients are compliant with the remote monitoring technology provided to them despite initial concerns. In very few instances was it found that a device was taken away from a patient due to reported non-compliance. In addition, training nurses and other care professionals is critical to ensuring that these professionals are comfortable introducing remote monitoring devices to their patients.

Methodology: HIMSS Analytics conducted telephone-based research with 125 consumers in January 2012. To ensure the sample population was representative of the entire population, HIMSS Analytics stratified the sample across several different demographic variables, including income, age, region of the country and health status.

The average age of respondents in this sample is 50 years of age; the median age of the sample is 54 years of age.

Just over one quarter of respondents (29 percent) are under 35; one-third of respondents (33 percent) are 60 years old or older.

Respondents were primarily represented from three regions of the country: Mid Atlantic (18 percent); Mountain (15 percent); and South Atlantic (14 percent). Just four percent of respondents came from the West South Central region.

Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of respondents reported they had no underlying health issues.

Among the 38 percent of respondents that reported health issues, more than half reported having high blood pressure (58 percent).

Forty (40 percent) reported having diabetes, 33 percent reported being obese and eight percent reported having congestive heart failure. Eight percent also reported other conditions, such as cancer.

Information provided during two focus groups, conducted by telephone, with 10 IT executives working at several health care organizations, complimented the consumer data. These health care organizations represent a range of organizations, from a 250-bed rural hospital to a 10-hospital delivery system with more than 2,000 beds. A HIMSS Analytics executive facilitated both focus groups; HIMSS Analytics and Qualcomm Life developed the focus group discussion guide collaboratively.

Read the white paper A New Prescription for Chronic Disease – Remote Monitoring Devices on the HIMSS Analytics website.

About Qualcomm Life

Qualcomm Life is defining and connecting the wireless health network to improve lives and enable efficient data capture and accessibility of medical devices. Qualcomm Life is focused on device connectivity and data management and empowers medical device manufacturers to deliver wireless health quickly and easily to those who need it. The Qualcomm Life team has the experience and the wireless know-how to make the enormous complexities of a wireless connection look simple. We draw from our parent company’s more than 25 years of wireless connectivity experience, know-how and universal interoperability to enable unified machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. To learn more, please visit www.qualcommlife.com.

About HIMSS Analytics

HIMSS Analytics is a wholly owned not-for-profit subsidiary of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). The company collects and analyzes healthcare information related to IT processes and environments, products, IS department composition and costs, IS department management metrics, healthcare trends and purchase-related decisions. HIMSS Analytics delivers high quality products, services and analytical expertise to healthcare delivery organizations, healthcare IT companies, state governments, financial companies, pharmaceutical companies, and consulting firms. Visit www.himssanalytics.org for more information.

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