Doctors, Patients Embrace Technology in Medicine
Sept. 22, 2014 -- Technology is quickly changing many parts of medicine, giving people more power to take charge of their health care.
Many patients and doctors are embracing these changes, a new Medscape/WebMD survey finds.
The findings are part of the WebMD/Medscape Digital Technology Survey, which included more than 1,100 patients and 1,400 health professionals, including 827 doctors. Questions focused on issues related to the evolution of medical care -- including using smartphones to assist in the diagnostic process, clearness about what a procedure costs, the right to review medical records, radiation risks from imaging tests, and genetic testing.
Eric Topol, MD, editor-in-chief of Medscape and the chief academic officer of Scripps Health, says the report is unique. There hasn’t been a large survey that’s asked the same questions of doctors and patients.
“Technology is really democratizing all aspects of the doctor’s visit,” Topol says.
Today, people can use smartphones to track their blood sugar. And soon, apps and accessories may be available that check cholesterol or track the heart’s electrical activity.
Instead of the doctor’s office or lab being a place to begin gathering information about their health, people could soon be showing up for checkups with the info already in hand.
In the survey:
- A majority of both groups -- 84% of patients and 69% of doctors -- said they embrace technology to enhance and aid the diagnostic process.
- Both groups -- 64% of patients and 63% of doctors -- agreed that the smartphone can be a useful diagnostic tool in regard to blood tests.
About 40% of patients liked the idea of using technology to identify health concerns without a trip to the doctor, while only 17% of doctors endorsed that method.
Areas Where Both Sides Agree
In addition to the use of new technologies, there were other parts of health care where doctors and patients agreed.
Nearly 100% of both groups said patients should have the right to know the full cost of a medical procedure before they decide whether to have it. The vast majority of patients and doctors also said patients should have access to the prices charged by different health care providers for the same medical procedure so they could comparison shop. Only about half of doctors said they were prepared to compete on the basis of cost, though.
And nearly all patients and doctors said they support the use of genetic testing to, for example, diagnose problems in a fetus, identify and treat diseases, or spot drug side effects.