Physicians engaged with patient-facing tools

Newly released data from Sermo, an online community of U.S. physicians, reveal a growing awareness of patient-centric technologies and a willingness to recommend them for patient use outside the doctor's office.

Nearly 3,000 physicians weighed in on the value of patient-centric technologies such as patient portals and mHealth tools. Sermo shared the following notable findings with PhysBizTech:

Thirty five (35) percent of respondents noted that their patients are currently bringing patient-facing tools to their attention "more often" than in 2011.

Twenty-nine (29) percent of physician respondents would encourage an at-risk patient to use mobile apps and 23 percent would recommend a wearable sensor to monitor health conditions.

Sermo also provided a sampling of individual comments from respondents:

“All patients need to be actively engaged in their health promotion plan and/or activities. Apps and other technologies are available to assist them with such measures, and even older patients can learn the basics to input bits of information into an app or a computer with a little encouragement and assistance, either from clinic staff or their family. Diabetics have been engaged in these activities -- in some fashion -- for as long as I have been in medicine. Patients need to be empowered and feel empowered to manage parts of their health plan without having to rush to an emergency department or clinic. It will take time and training, and that too is a precious commodity that few want to surrender. But the benefits are of much greater value.”

-- Physician practicing family medicine

“These technological advances are easy to apply especially with mobile apps. Small enough not to take lots of room like computer monitors.  So they are not in the way between the MD and the patient.  I often use apps in my office.  And [the] patient and I look at them together.  It creates a common interest between doc and patient.  Also, technology like this is 'cool' so patients like to play around with it.  And therefore it gets them interested in their own health in a playful way.”

-- Physician practicing psychiatry

“Passive sensors that are remotely monitored by automated algorithms [and/or medical providers] will eventually be introduced and will change how medicine is practiced and how we will treat and interface with our patients. Just like home visits by doctors went away, 'office visits' for routine monitoring (blood pressure, lipid profile, recovery from an illness, etc.) will become a historical curiosity (sooner than we think).”

-- Physician practicing cardiology

According to Sermo, doctors within its community spend 35,000 hours per month online discussing topics of relevance to members.