Consumers See Remote Monitoring Tech Positively

A new survey has concluded that the vast majority of patients believe that remote monitoring of their condition can make a difference in their overall health.

The research was conducted by Sony’s mSafety Wearable Platform Division, whose mSafety platform helps healthcare organizations build remote monitoring applications. (For more background on the platform, check out this interview my colleague Andy Oram did with Sony Network Communications Europe’s Arnol Rios, who’s with subsidiary Takeoff Point Inc.)

To conduct the survey, Sony researchers reached out to more than 2,000 patients diagnosed with chronic conditions in the US.

The study found that one in three chronically ill patients responding to the survey have trouble tracking important health measurements such as vital signs. It also found that one in three felt stressed about the need to keep up with such efforts as well as the possibility of misreporting such statistics.

Researchers found that 45% of chronically ill people regularly forget to take one of their prescription medications or treatments and that 28% as had a health emergency triggered by their failing to track their measurements or medications accurately and consistently.

That being said, almost 90% of respondents felt they could better manage their chronic conditions if they had access to a specialized remote health monitoring device.

Also, more than half of respondents would consider switching to a doctor who provided a specialized monitoring device if their existing physician didn’t offer one, and 75% of participating consumers would wear such a device if their doctor prescribed it.

However, just 20% of consumers managing chronic conditions for themselves or a loved one reported that the patient had been prescribed a specialized remote monitoring device. They don’t seem to be happy with consumer-electronics alternatives, either, with only 28% saying they’d trust a consumer health wearable to use in managing a chronic condition.

If they did get a specialized remote monitoring device, almost half of people with chronic conditions would visit physicians less often if they could share health data digitally from home. Also, 54% said they’d skip at least three annual visits to their doctor.

Getting the consumer’s perspective on the use of remote monitoring devices is certainly interesting. Even if their excitement is pumped up artificially by vendors like Sony, it seems that patients’ awareness of remote monitoring of their health is reaching new heights. (I doubt their levels of interest would have been anywhere near as high if this survey had been conducted even, say, three years ago.)

Still, providers aren’t necessarily prepared to support mass deployment of these devices. In fact, both clinical and business models for managing chronic health conditions remotely still seem to be very much in flux, with no widely-accepted best practices in place for remotely monitoring even extremely common conditions like diabetes.

While consumer acceptance of these technologies is a good thing, providers still have a lot of work to do before they can create remote monitoring programs for managing chronic illnesses at scale. We seem to be almost to the point of making this work, but we’re not quite there.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.