There are more market research reports, survey results and industry metrics related to mobile and digital health floating around these days than in years past: Our recently published State of the Industry Q4/2012 Year in Review report included a summary of 16 different metric-loaded reports that published during the last three months of the year alone. That means results from one or more digital health surveys published each week leading up to the end of 2012.
While far from perfect, these market numbers help shape our perception of what's really going on in the market at large. Rightly or wrongly, even small surveys can have this effect.
That's why I was drawn to a recent announcement from Level 3 about a small survey of 100 CIOs and other healthcare IT professionals working in provider settings that the company had commissioned Corona Insights to conduct. The summary findings of the survey were published in the press release announcement and they included these two statements: "Only 17 percent believe mHealth will have a significant impact on the healthcare industry" and "at the same time, healthcare CIOs and IT executives are less inclined to focus on mobile-enabled healthcare (mHealth)."
Rather dispiriting findings. However, if you read the actual survey results and the questions themselves, as I did after requesting them from Level 3, a very different set of findings is discussed.
The question that generated the 17 percent figure was not whether or not CIOs and their IT department colleagues believed mHealth would have a significant impact on the healthcare industry or not, it was: "Which of the following do you think will have the greatest impact on the healthcare industry?" Surprisingly, 17 percent of CIOs and others working in healthcare IT provider settings believe that mobile-enabled healthcare will have the greatest impact on healthcare -- even a greater impact than interconnectivity of healthcare facilities (the most popular response) and EHRs (the second most popular answer).
Given these numbers, in all likelihood, many more in this group would agree that mobile-enabled healthcare will have a significant impact on healthcare, just not more so than interconnectivity and EHRs. Fair enough.
The report also finds that 61 percent of those surveyed believed EMRs will allow patients greater access and more personal control over their health records, and "respondents who believe this were asked to describe how they believe this will happen," the report reads. "Many pointed to increased access through several portals, especially through telehealth and mobile tools for remote access via Internet availability." The report even concludes that telehealth and mobile access to EMRs are among the most often cited "next big trends" for health IT.
After years of promise and potential there is a natural eagerness among industry watchers to poke holes in the hype surrounding mobile and digital health. There's no need to twist facts to do so.