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BizReport : : December 20, 2012

1 in 10 Americans believe web, apps saved their life

More than 1 in 10 American citizens believe that medical apps or websites have saved their life, according to a new survey commissioned by Royal Philips Electronics, while a quarter use web-based information and technology instead of visiting a doctor.

by Helen Leggatt

iCon.pngOnline health information websites, such as WebMD, and mobile apps such as Triage, are credited by 11% of Americans as having saved their lives or, at the very least, prevented them from being severely incapacitated. More than 4 in 10 feel "comfortable" using websites to check symptoms.

"We are in the early stages of the web-enabled, mHealth, mobile app world of healthcare delivery. Near- future apps will focus on tying together health information technologies, connecting with doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals and patients, all within a social context that facilitates shared medical decision-making," says Dr. Eric Silfen, Chief Medical Officer of Philips Healthcare.

For a third of respondents, monitoring their own health through apps or web-based technology is believed to be the key to living a long life. In fact, 27% said they use such sources of health information to self-diagnose rather than visiting a doctor.

The danger lies in using online or app-based information as an alternative to a visit to the doctor, rather than using it as supplementary tool.

"The implications of this information are far-reaching. Patients may not believe that their symptoms are worth the hassle of seeing their physician, and serious conditions may go undiagnosed. Doctors may spend more time discrediting unreliable websites than treating patients for their actual conditions," explains Jennifer Bresnick of EHR Intelligence.

"Not only does this waste the opportunity for a productive consult, but it erodes the trust between a patient who is entirely convinced that her research skills are accurate and a professional who is condemning and dismissing what she believes to be true. The resulting anxiety and skepticism is avoidable as long as patients are properly educated on the use of mHealth tools and their limitations."

Tags: health industry, healthcare, medical industry, mhealth, mobile apps

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