IBM Survey Finds Growing Consumer Demand for Mobile Health Devices

A new survey by the IBM Institute for Business Value indicates high satisfaction rates among patients and caregivers using mobile medical devices, as well as growing willingness to spend money for such devices.

The survey of more than 1,300 consumers of telehealth products in the US and UK found that 93% of respondents are satisfied with their devices’ basic functionality, and that 80% of respondents would be willing to pay up to $100 out-of-pocket for their devices. A sizable minority (35%) of respondents also expect to pay monthly fees for using such devices within the next two years.

In terms of how consumers are using mobile medical devices, half of survey participants reported using their devices to manage known health problems; IBM found that within the next two years, however, 30% of participants anticipate using such products for preventative health uses like physical activity.

Ease of use dominated respondents’ list of criteria for selecting mobile health products, cited as the most important factor by 96% of participants. More than three-fourths of respondents cited price as a key factor, followed by feature set (54%) and customer support (42%).

Of paramount interest to mobile medical device manufacturers, no doubt, is the finding that 71% of patients and caregivers taking part in the survey reported that their physicians’ opinions determined their choice of telehealth product. Product endorsements from health care provider groups were accordingly viewed as more influential by respondents than endorsements from insurers, regulators or consumer advocacy groups.

IBM identifies an emerging competitive landscape between medical device manufacturers and consumer electronics makers in the telehealth market. Although the latter group has a stronger foothold among end users due to its established retail presence, its distribution efforts among health care channels will take time and effort to set up. Medical device firms, conversely, have more experience with health care providers, but will have more work to do in terms of addressing consumer rather than practitioner product requirements.

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