The idea of virtual doctor visits is growing on us

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Consumers are growing more comfortable with virtual doctor visits, with 70 percent of U.S. patients open to the idea, according a global survey by technology vendor Cisco.

The survey compared the views of consumers and healthcare decision-makers in 10 countries on sharing personal health data, in-person medical consultation versus remote care and using technology to make recommendations on personal health. The views of 1,547 consumers and 403 practitioners in the United States are broken out in an infographic.

Overall, healthcare practitioners were more willing to share personal and private information than consumers.

Other findings:

  • More than 60 percent of U.S. consumers said they would be comfortable with the idea of being treated by a specialist using virtual technology.
  • 63 percent of consumers are comfortable with having their health records securely available on the cloud.
  • Nearly half of consumers and two-thirds of providers said they would be comfortable sharing and receiving health information through social media.
  • Close to sixty percent of U.S. providers expressed confidence that data protection is adequate to protect patient privacy, while only 40 percent of consumers agreed.

U.S. consumers were more likely to share exercise (25 percent), weight (28 percent) or sleep pattern (26 percent) information online as opposed to vital signs such as blood pressure or heart rate (15 percent).

Of those who have mobile apps on their devices, the majority are for health eating and exercise. Only 25 percent reported using mobile apps to manage chronic diseases.

Forty percent found online appointment reminders helpful, followed by online treatment reminders (29 percent), information on managing drug side effects (30 percent) and discounts or coupons on health-related items (28 percent).

"Consumers have a large preference for telehealth services. Some studies are even showing that there are better outcomes from telehealth than in person," Linda Boles, chief strategist of the U.S. public sector of healthcare innovation and business development at Cisco, was quoted in an article at Becker's Hospital Review that predicted increased government funding and support for telehealth services.

An estimated 1.8 million people globally are expected to be treated by telehealth by 2017. Indeed, telehealth efforts have been gaining steam in states including Mississippi, Maryland and Virginia, FierceHealthIT has reported.

However, as a small study from Portugal pointed out recently, despite the benefits that telehealth can provide, some patients still prefer to see the doctor in person.

To learn more:
- find the announcement
- here's the U.S. breakout

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