PwC Report: 21 percent want health info via SMS

By Brian Dolan

PricewaterhouseCoopers has published a report over the weekend that examines ways by which the healthcare industry might "squeeze" more cost savings our of the system. As you might imagine connected health solutions are a consistent theme throughout much of the report. Here's how it breaks down:

Telecommunications service providers: PwC notes that big telecom companies including Verizon, AT&T and Sprint are working to play a bigger role in the healthcare industry. PwC hedges its bets on whether they will succeed: "Technologyandtelecommunications companies may become key players in setting new regulatory rules versus just playing byexistingones." Telecom companies are notorious lobbyists -- as an industry they typically spend more than most other ones -- making them a regulatory influencer for sure. Regulations aside, PwC predicts that "newplayerswillcontinueto change the structure of the industry, the basis for competition, and the way health services are delivered."

Home health care: PwC provides an market growth projection we haven't seen before: "The growth rate of the home healthcare and disease managementmarketsareexpected to increase to 25 percent 2010 and to remain steady over the following five years." The firm also projects that remote patient monitoring will play a bigger role in home health: "Increased availability ofremote patient monitoring systems will complement disease management and home health care to engage consumers with constant feedback on their health."

Federal funding: While the federal stimulus money is reaching most corners of the health IT market, PwC points out one cluster of funds aimed specifically at managing chronic diseases. "The Communities Putting Prevention to Work program, a stimulus-backed effort,provides approximately $642 million for regions to combat leading chronic diseases through evidenced-based prevention and healthcare strategies. The program will award grants in four areas Community Initiative ($449 million); States and Territories Policy and Environmental Change Initiative ($120 million); States Chronic Disease Self Management Initiative ($32.5 million) and; National Prevention and Media Initiative ($40 million)." The last two categories look to be ripe for wireless health.

Pharma's role: PwC sees a role shift for pharmaceutical companies as they begin to become a more active part of the care equation: "Bysupportingcaredelivery innovations, pharmaceutical companies will rebuild trust among consumers and be seen as a strong partner in delivering effective healthcare." May sound a bit optimistic, but its based on the lack of other options: "Theneedforconsumer engagement at all points of care will open up opportunities for pharma to partner with providers and insurers to increase the value of health spend and effectively manage at-risk populations." Consumers will become fed up with waiting for care, PwC predicts and will turn to every other available option.

As part of the pharma-focused chapter in the PwC report, the firm put together a table that aggregates the channels through which consumers are interested in accessing health information. It's unclear how respondents were surveyed, but more than 20 percent of them were interested in receiving health information via mobile phones. The caveat is that "text messaging" is in brackets next to the field, indicating the survey wanted to know how many people wanted to receive health information via text message? Regardless, 21 percent is a strong interest.

For more on the report, download it here