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The Digital Health Self-Service Counter

By Clive Riddle, June 21, 2012

So you’ve navigated the self-service checkout counter, purchasing your toilet repair kit and halogen light bulbs at your big-box hardware store; and even braved the self-service experience with your greek yogurt, arugula and asiago cheese at your grocery store. Now are you ready to do the same with your healthcare?

Accenture says you are indeed, to a point, if you can just find the checkout counter.  They have just released results of the Accenture Connected Health Pulse Survey , based on an online survey of 1,110 U.S. patients to determine the preferred channels of electronic health information and services. They found that “the vast majority of patients (90 percent) want to self-manage their healthcare leveraging technology, such as accessing medical information, refilling prescriptions and booking appointments online, but nearly half (46 percent) are unaware if their health records are available electronically.”

What’s more, as Accenture’s Kaveh Safavi, MD, JD, tells us, “patients increasingly want access to their personal medical information, anytime, anywhere. But they’re not willing to give up the option of face time with their physicians.” (85% surveyed want to be able to communicate with their doctor in person.)  So just like the grocery and hardware stores that must still provide full-service counters next to their self-checkout lines, consumers want their in-person doctors and nurses and mhealth too. Although, as an aside, who are these 15% of consumers that don’t want to be able to communicate with their doctor in person?

Here’s more consumer findings from Accenture’s survey:

  • 83 % want online access to their health records
  • 48 % want their doctors to manage their medical records, while 44 % prefer to manage their own
  • 33 % did not know whether services such as bill pay, electronic reminders and lab results were available to them online
  • 72 % want to book, change or cancel physician appointments through via  website; 68% would like to do so via a mobile device (meaning most want both)
  • 88 % want to receive email reminders for preventative or follow-up care;  63% would like to receive these reminders via their mobile phone (meaning most want both)
  • 76 % want the option of email consultations with doctors, 74% would like telephone consultations, including via mobile phone (meaning most want both)
  • 73 % would like to use a mobile device for requesting prescription refills; 72% want to be able to use a website to do so (meaning most want both)

For more about the role of in person vs. self-service healthcare, you can check out the mHimss blog by David Lee Scher, MD in which he offers 5 reasons why mobile health apps will never replace doctors. If you just want to read the cliff notes version, we’ve summarized his list in healthsprocket.

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