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Nearly eight in 10 Americans (78%) are interested in receiving? healthcare services via their mobile device (mHealth) and many think such offerings -? such as wireless monitoring and mobile exams – could someday replace visits to the doctor, according to a study released by CTIA The Wireless Association, and conducted by Harris Interactive.

The study also found that more than one in ten (15%) of those surveyed are extremely/very interested in learning more about? mHealth, nearly one in five (19%) would upgrade their existing wireless plan to participate, and 11% would consider switching wireless providers to receive medical services through their wireless device.

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Moreoveer, nearly one-fourth (23%) of respondents also say they would use mHealth, if it were available,? instead of going to the doctor. Approximately four in 10 would use it to supplement doctor visits.

Most Popular Applications

The most popular ideas for mHealth device applications include mobile exams/consultations, mobile wellness care, mobile monitoring and mobile elderly monitoring.

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Great Potential for Rural, Elderly, Chronically Ill

Adults surveyed believe that those in rural areas had the most to gain from mobile heath services (51%), the study found.? Others who stood to see the most benefit: those with chronic diseases that needed monitoring (48%), retired/Medicare patients (41%) and caregivers (38%).

Most Significant Benefits
Survey respondents strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that access to mobile healthcare services would result in the following benefits:

  • Allow for more home-based care (68%)

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  • Make the patient feel like they are always being watched (57%)
  • Offer a measure of safety for patients or their family/friends (57%)
  • Give patients peace of mind (54%)
  • Make medical care easier to obtain (51%)
  • Give patients more freedom and choice (51%)

Doctors Upbeat Too
The research into mHealth also included a survey of physicans, who estimate that more than one quarter of all their patients could benefit from mHealth services. Some 80% of doctors and 89% of specialists voted to continue investment in mHealth.

“mHealth could be the penicillin of the 21st century,” said Joseph? Porus, VP of Harris Interactive’s? Technology Research Group. “It has the potential to be a game changer by reducing cost and improving the quality and convenience of healthcare around the globe”

Porus added that he doesn’t think it will be long before “You look at your mobile phone and your doctor will ask you to open your mouth and say ‘Ahh.'”

Can mHealth Fix Healthcare?

Though is is clear how mHealth might give more healthcare control and access to patients and give physicians more flexibility to treat their patients remotely, CTIA represesntatives are even more sanguine about the role wireless will play in fixing America’s ailing healthcare system.

“Wireless plays an important role in solving the healthcare crisis in America,” said Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association, adding that it is the “right medicine we need to help cure our country’s healthcare.

“mHealth is a great equalizer that will allow millions of Americans – no matter where they live or their economic situation – to have access to the same healthcare and to ‘visit’ the best doctors’ offices in the country, which ultimately mean significant improvements in the medical community’s ability to identify and resolve epidemics, reduce medical errors and expand preventative healthcare.” Largent added.

About the study: The research comprised two separate studies. The first was conducted online among 3,229 US adults, 115 general practitioners and 129 specialists and was fielded September 11-16, 2009. A second study of 2,334 US adults was conducted online September 8-15, 2009.

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