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The Need for Consumer Health and Employer Health to Collide

Posted on August 31, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This post is sponsored by Samsung Business. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Towers Watson study looked at telehealth services that are offered by large employers. The main study result isn’t that surprising: more employers are offering telehealth services and more employers plan to offer telehealth services. This is part of a much larger trend where employers realize that easy access to health services is great for their employees and their business.

What was a bit surprising from the study was that despite offering telehealth services, many of the employees of these large companies aren’t actually using those services. Here’s how Megan Williams described this finding on the Insights blog:

The Towers Watson study in particular highlights one of the greatest challenges employers face in realizing the full benefit of telemedicine solutions — awareness. Many employees aren’t even aware of traditional options, so it’s highly likely that their options of digital health tools are being overlooked.

Why is it that consumers don’t realize the full breadth of telehealth options their employer provides?

The problem here is that most of us don’t look to our employer for healthcare. We look to them for insurance, but not health care. We don’t expect our employer to take an active interest in our health. In fact, often our employer would step away from suggesting “the best” doctors to us and just provide us the list of in-network doctors. It was up to us as patients to figure out who was “best.”

Given this dynamic, we’ve had to figure out how to navigate the healthcare system on our own. We were more likely to discover a new healthcare option through email, Facebook or Twitter than we were through our employer. To date, telehealth services have largely been consumer driven and so it’s no surprise that most patients discover telehealth services through other consumers and not their employer.

Will the day finally arrive that the consumer health options we seek overlap with the employer health options that my employer supports? I think we’re heading that direction. In the telemedicine space, for example, we’re starting to see some dominant industry players emerge. Large companies will only need to support a small set of telemedicine companies to cover their entire workforce and allow their employees to discover and use whichever telemedicine service they find on their own.

Patients’ interest in telehealth services will only continue to grow. Each of us has a smartphone in our pocket and we’re used to getting the answers to all our questions wherever we are and whatever we may be doing. The same is true for our health. Our health choices will be more influenced by our smartphone than our employer. That’s why employers need the consumer health and employer health worlds to collide.

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Breaking Down the Mobile Health Apps by Number

Posted on October 31, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Dan Munro has a great blog post on Forbes that offers an overview of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics report on the mobile health app market. Check out his whole article for all the findings, but I was really intrigued by his list of study results:
1. Every app categorized as “health and wellness” or “medical” in Apple’s AAPL -0.11% iTunes store was reviewed
2. Of the 43,000+ mobile health apps assessed for the report – only 23,682 were classified with a legitimate health function
3. 5 apps accounted for 15% of all downloads
4. 16,275 were considered patient facing
5. 7,407 were considered provider facing
6. Smartphone use is lowest (18%) in the 65+ demographic
7. More than 90% of the apps tested scored less than 40 on a scale of 100
8. Apps were further categorized by 7 capabilities:
– Inform (10,840 apps)
– Instruct (5,823 apps)
– Record/Capture data (5,095 apps)
– Display User entered data
– Guide
– Remind/Alert (1,357 apps)
– Communicate
– None of the 7 capabilities (1,622 apps)

I always love data and this is some interesting data. Dan’s headline was also another interesting piece of data: “Over 50% Of Mobile Health Apps Are Downloaded Less Than 500 Times.” We’ve talked about this before. It’s one thing to build a mobile health app and another thing to get someone to actually use it. Many fall short of the later objective.

One other stat in the list above that stood out to me was the split between provider facing mobile health apps and patient facing mobile health apps. I would have thought that more of them would be patient facing. That’s a lot of provider focused mobile health apps considering the size of the provider market. Of course, each of those doctors do control a lot of consumer spend.