The Rise of Virtual Healthcare

The Rise of Virtual Healthcare

How we “talk” and interact has changed. Heads down. Headphones on. Thumbs moving. It’s ironic that the more we focus on our small, handheld smartphone, the more we have access to the larger world around us. When sitting on a park bench, we can call loved ones, shop at Amazon, watch Netflix, listen to Spotify and schedule appointments. Indeed, it’s not a stretch to think that most people (especially Millennials) could pretty much operate their whole world on a smartphone.

As part of our continued focus on consumerism in healthcare, Market Strategies monitors and tracks how consumers use technology. In this article, we explore telehealth with an emphasis on virtual healthcare—an attractive option to busy consumers who are now accustomed to getting what they need, the moment they need it. For healthcare consumers, this means convenient, high-quality, immediate access to care for themselves and family members that costs less than traditional office visits.

What we’re learning from our own research is helping healthcare providers, health systems and insurers offer the right tools at the right time to connect consumers with the care they expect.

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The Smartphone Revolution: Four Capabilities You Need in Your Market Research

The Smartphone RevolutionSometime in 2016, more than two billion people—about one-third of people on the planet—will use a smartphone. Smartphone penetration in developed countries is currently over 70% among adults 18-54, and the ownership gap between this group and people over 55 should become negligible by 2020. For market researchers and the clients we serve, this trend represents a profound opportunity. These gadgets have become one of the most transformative tools in our quantitative and qualitative arsenal.

Using the capabilities available to us now, we can capture information that we’ve seldom had access to, using smartphones to build out the consumer story and bring attitude and usage data to life like never before.

Unlike desktop or laptop computers, which don’t know much about their users, smartphones know just about everything. Because they are always with us, they know where we are, how long we spend there, what we are interested in, what we like and don’t like, how we are feeling at the moment and even how healthy we are. Plus, smartphones allow respondents to share personal—sometimes intimate—moments as they occur. We can collect, aggregate and analyze these data to give real, deep insight into the human condition.

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New Research Study Reveals HealthTech Trends & Benefits

Fitness tracker

In our technology-driven world, we often hear warnings about excessive screen time and suggestions to regularly “unplug” to mitigate the negative health effects of being continually connected. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teens should engage in no more than two hours of electronic entertainment media per day to avoid a myriad of developmental challenges such as concentration problems and obesity. Recently, a study out of UCLA School of Medicine asserts that screen time at bedtime can have detrimental effects on sleep.

But could technology actually be—dare we say—good for us?

Market Strategies International was curious so we conducted our own study to explore some of the intersections of health and technology to determine what benefits, if any, are coming out of the convergence. Other than healthy annual revenues that are estimated to reach $2 billion with 13 million users by 2020, are there any healthy paybacks for consumers? Within our sample, even though a vast majority report having good to excellent health, 16% have been diagnosed with diabetes and nearly 20% have struggled with obesity.

  • Could innovations in health technology empower us to be more aware of and take control of our health?
  • What types of companies are best positioned to provide solutions?
  • Who do consumers trust to provide these devices or services?

Our web-based survey included 1,000 adults living across the US who use at least one of several connected fitness health devices, apps or telehealth services. We found that not only can technology provide benefits such as raised awareness of overall health, but it can also help increase healthful attitudes and behaviors thanks to the use of personal fitness trackers, medication reminder apps and patient portals. Furthermore, results show that people trust technology and consumer goods companies over pharmaceutical or healthcare companies to provide HealthTech devices/services and to be responsible for personal information and/or collected data.

Health & Fitness Devices or Services Have Used

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Mobile Financial Services & Our 24/7 Online Culture

Last night I was reading a report by the Federal Reserve about consumers and mobile financial services. The Federal Reserve has been conducting an annual survey on the adoption and use of mobile financial services since 2011. It found that 87% of the US population had regular access to mobile phones, with an increasing number owning smartphones over the past few years (71% versus 61% in 2013, 52% in 2012 and 44% in 2011).

The study also found that both mobile banking and mobile payment services are increasingly prevalent, with over half of smartphone users with bank accounts using mobile bank services, and over one-fourth of all smartphone users using mobile payment systems. Clearly, consumer demand for mobile financial services is increasing.

As I was considering these findings, a commercial for the new Apple Watch came on television, and I found myself wondering how this relatively new kind of mobile device might impact mobile financial services moving forward. I also began to ponder the seemingly divergent evolution of mobile devices in terms of optimal size; smartphones are getting bigger and smartwatches are entering the fray at the bottom of the size spectrum.

For a moment, it seemed a bit contradictory but then I realized that larger smartphones are essentially replacements for tablets and/or desktops, and smartwatches go one step further as wearables that approach personal integration. That’s when it started to make sense—the need to be connected personally and professionally has become critically important in our culture. For some, being offline feels unnatural, uncomfortable or even isolating.

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Healthcare & the Smartphone Paradox

The paradox of smartphones is that they both divide us and bring us together. When your friends, family members and colleagues take out their smartphone, you may feel pangs of isolation. But when your survey respondents do, there is an opportunity to connect with them more deeply in the moment and gain a glimpse into their lives and their experiences.
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Unintentional Mobile Respondents: Too Many Questions, So Little Time

Mobile RespondentI’ve been known to ask a lot of questions. Just ask my team at work, my daughter or my wife, for that matter. (Turns out she doesn’t appreciate being subjected to the Socratic method…go figure.) But even I’ve learned that there are diminishing returns when it comes to asking questions—the 10th one just makes them mad.

And so it is with survey research. Dr. Reg Baker, AKA the “Survey Geek,” has posted on the topic no fewer than nine times in the last few years, quoting many definitive sources including Galesic and Bosnjak’s important study on the impact of survey length on data quality in web studies.

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A Tale of No Cell Phone

What I found reassuring: Turning on the phone. The small, white Apple icon shining brightly against the dark background, lighting up each successive morning on the train.

What I didn’t find reassuring: Pressing the power button and seeing the black screen. I had forgotten to charge my phone.

No sense of time. No way to call anyone. Nothing but my own thoughts and shades of green rushing past the train window.

That particular morning, I looked for a moment at the blank phone, shrugged my shoulders and let my thoughts meander on their own river toward nothing in particular.

Random thoughts flitted—thoughts about the present, the future, deep philosophy about family, work. Nothing that would stay in my head beyond the commute.

And then the stop nearest to Stumptown Coffee appeared, not terribly near the office but close enough to still get to my desk at a reasonable time. I jumped off, bought my treasured latte and ambled south.

And then—that sudden, unpleasant shock of realization: The Meeting.

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Banks, PayPal Poised for Mobile Payments Success

Consumers love how easy their smartphones are to use and like shopping and browsing on them, too.  But when it comes to buying the products they hesitate, wondering if they are leaving a “computer hacker backdoor” into their personal financial information. It’s no wonder.

In light of all the security issues consumers face from cyber-attacks (i.e. Zappos/Amazon), and a recent story that hackers buried their spying devices so deep within Nortel’s internal systems that experts couldn’t find them for years, it’s not surprising that the majority (6 in 10) of consumers worry about the security of their personal financial information when purchasing goods and services on their smartphones. If they buy that cute blouse or high-tech golf driver online, will they suddenly find their bank account empty?  Why take the risk? 

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