Americans May Be Ready for a Brave New World of Healthcare

Americans May Be Ready for a Brave New World of Healthcare

Americans May Be Ready for a Brave New World of Healthcare

The FINANCIAL -- While we may still be a few years away from the sort of technology Doctor McCoy used in "Star Trek" to gain instant access to all that ailed his patients, mobile apps and tools designed to work with smartphones and tablets for monitoring and measuring our health are cropping up in many corners of the healthcare world. This may seem a tad Orwellian to some, but a new survey suggests that Americans are ready to adopt some of these technological opportunities into their healthcare regime, according to Harris Interactive Inc.

Nearly half of Americans are extremely or very interested in being able to check their blood pressure (48%) or their heart and heartbeat for irregularities (47%) on their smartphone or tablet, with an additional 23% and 22%, respectively, saying they're somewhat interested. Perhaps the most common health application for mobile devices right now is the variety of apps and peripherals which can be used to track physical activity, and 43% of Americans say they're extremely or very interested in this (with an additional 25% somewhat interested).

Interest is also strong for general blood testing services (41% extremely/very interested and 21% somewhat interested); photographing one's eye, cornea, or retina to diagnose eye problems (40% and 23%); checking blood sugar or glucose levels (39%, 22%); measuring lung function (38%, 23%); and diet tracking (36%, 24%) via mobile devices.

Interest wanes somewhat when it comes to conducting urine tests (26% extremely/very, 19% somewhat) and checking stool samples (19%, 15%) via mobile devices, though clearly such applications are not without proponents, according to Harris Interactive Inc.

Differences by generation and gender

Millennials are more likely than their elder counterparts to indicate being extremely or very interested in many of the services and applications evaluated, including:

Tracking physical activity (57% Millennials vs. 45% Gen Xers, 35% Baby Boomers and 25% Matures),
Tracking their diet (50% Millennials vs. 36% Gen Xers, 28% Baby Boomers and 21% Matures),
Diagnosing eye problems (49% Millennials vs. 38% Gen Xers, 34% Baby Boomers and 36% Matures), and
Measuring lung function (46% Millennials vs. 35% Gen Xers, 34% Baby Boomers and 34% Matures).

Meanwhile, blood seems to be a key word for men in particular, as males are more likely to be extremely or very interested in the ability to do each of the following via mobile devices:

Check their blood pressure (51% men vs. 45% women),
Conduct general blood testing (45% men vs. 38% women), and
Check their blood sugar or blood glucose levels (43% men vs. 35% women).

Men are also more likely than women to show a strong interest in measuring lung function (41% men vs. 35% women) on smartphones or tablets, according to Harris Interactive Inc.

Condition is key

Perhaps not surprisingly, interest for many of these technologies is especially high among those who have chronic or long lasting conditions for which monitoring such biometrics is key:

Majorities of those diagnosed with high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease are extremely or very interested in checking their blood pressure on a smartphone or tables (60%, 59% and 56%, respectively).
Similarly, over six in ten of those diagnosed with heart disease or obesity (63% each) show strong interest in being able to check their heart and heartbeat for irregularities via mobile device.
Majorities of diabetics (57%) and those diagnosed with heart disease (56%) are extremely or very interested in being able to check their blood sugar or glucose level in this manner.
Over half of those with heart disease (56%) show a strong of interest in the opportunity to conduct general blood testing in this manner.