GPs embrace digital health tools

Doctors are actively engaging with digital health technology, according to a new study which shows that almost three in four GPs have used or recommended an app, forum or wearable technology in the past year.

‘Digital Doctor Report 2015’, a study by Ipsos Mori, also revealed that most GPs believe digital health tools are here to stay: just one in five think that health and lifestyle apps are just a fad.

Yet the majority of doctors don’t have a clear idea of what they want from digital health solutions. For those that do, monitoring of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, and cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, is seen as the primary function.

Still, doctors have some concerns about the wider use of digital health tools by patients: 66% mentioned the potential for the data to be misinterpreted, 61% expressed fears that it could fuel hypochondria, and 53% were concerned about a possible lack of security and privacy.

More than one in four are worried that mobile apps for patients will create more conflict between doctors and patients.

The study is the first of its kind looking specifically at the attitudes of Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) to new healthcare technologies. Carried out across the UK, France and Germany, the annual study will track trends in this emerging field, look at the level of engagement in new healthcare technologies, and identify concerns or barriers to adoption.

Commenting on the research, Gareth Phillips, managing director of Ipsos Healthcare Western Europe, said:

“It’s too early to say where the ‘sweet spot’ for healthcare apps and wearable tech will be. As we see developments such as pharma companies investing in tech start-ups to drive new innovations, Digital Doctor will allow us to monitor take-up and attitudes among PCPs in this emerging market.

“These findings show PCPs definitely do see a role for apps and wearable tech, but only if they complement face-to-face treatment, rather than replace it. But the clear message is that any new apps or devices will need to integrate with existing systems, and genuinely simplify and improve current practices.”

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