eHealth: more hype than reality?

SUMMARY: 70% of the people Axios surveyed say they’ve used the internet to research symptoms or learn more about health conditions. And 51% use apps or other tech tools to track their sleep, fitness or diet.

  • But as people’s needs shift from personal information-gathering into the formal health care system, their tech usage begins to fall.
  • Only 44% have accessed their medical records online, and fewer than 25% have used the internet to manage chronic conditions, mental health, or their health care spending.

It seems the hype around eHeath is everywhere with companies raising millions of dollars in funding but as the Axios poll found the hype does not align with reality.

I’ve sat in on extensive research on the use of eHealth and people are using eHealth the way THEY want to, not the way start-ups would have us believe. There are a lot of reasons for this including poor usability and people who don’t want to use their smartphones to manage their health because it reminds them they have a chronic condition.

Although the debate around Apple’s watch AFIB app is still being discussed it doesn’t require any user interaction other than wearing the device. Other eHealth initiatives require people to enter data and frankly, they just don’t have the time.

Why aren’t people accessing their medical records online? Again it comes down to bad user experiences. Athena health’s portal is horrible and Apple’s needs more distribution before patients use it.

Over 318,000 health apps and 340 consumer wearable devices are now available worldwide. Just 41 apps with over 10 million downloads each account for nearly half of all app downloads while over 85% of all health apps have fewer than 5,000 installs. For patients, eHealth is a jungle.

HCP’s are also skeptical of any eHealth app. They want to see studies on patients use and outcomes, not how the app was developed. I have seen three cardiologists as part of my wellness, and none of them trust the app I use to record EKG’s.

What baffle’s a lot of HCP’s is why pharma can’t develop eHealth products that are tested the same way that drugs are tested. They feel eHealth apps developed by pharma, with clinical testing could lead to both better patient outcomes and better compliance.

For now the hype does not match the reality but then again when does it ever?