1 in 5 broadband households want live chats with health experts

By Aditi Pai

Apple FacetimeAround 17 million US broadband households are interested in live chat services with healthcare experts, according to a recent survey conducted by Parks Associates.

The study found that 50 percent of US broadband households with access to online services such as prescription refills, real-time video calls with a doctor, or appointments use these services and nearly 20 percent of US broadband households, over 17 million households, are interested in a live chat service with health experts. In addition, 13 percent of households are interested in virtual tools to manage medications, and 15 percent are interested in post-surgery virtual monitoring.

Still, 56 percent of U.S. broadband households are without or unaware of online healthcare services available to them, according to Senior Digital Health Analyst Jennifer Kent.

Earlier this year, Parks released a report that found 5 percent of households with broadband internet have at least one digital fitness device -- like a Fitbit, Jawbone UP, or BodyMedia FIT Armband.

The older report also predicted that more than 32 million US consumers will actively track their health and fitness online or via mobile devices by 2016, up from about 15 million in 2011. Online and mobile wellness service adoption will also increase from 14 million users in 2011 to 29 million by 2016, according to Parks.