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Lots of Americans Want Health Care Via Smartphone

But all too often, the demand outpaces the technology to deliver it, Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll finds

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Taylor said that in some other countries, services like these are more widely used because they are required or doctors are compensated to employ them. "But in this country," he said, "most doctors and hospitals have little or no incentives to provide them. They are unlikely to offer them until it is in their interest to do so."

Another poll finding was that, not surprisingly, younger adults are more eager to use their smartphones and tablets than older adults. Only one-quarter of people aged 65 and older were very interested in using the devices to help manage their blood pressure, for instance -- compared to 38 percent of younger people.

On one hand, Schleyer noted, older adults could stand to benefit the most from such technology, because they're more likely to have chronic health conditions and need more contact with their doctors.

On the other hand, they may simply not be as comfortable with smartphones and tablets as younger generations are, he said.

Despite the interest in tapping into smartphones and tablets for health care, some poll respondents had some misgivings. They were less inclined to want e-mail or text "reminders" to exercise, quit smoking, or take medication, for example.

Schleyer said that may be because it's a bit like having your mom nag you electronically. Plus, many Americans are already inundated with e-mails and texts. "People may feel there's already too much digital information flying at them," he said.

Poll respondents were also worried about the security of their electronically transmitted medical information: 47 percent were "somewhat confident" it would be secure, while roughly 40 percent were "not very" or "not at all" confident.

That's a valid worry, Schleyer said. However, he also doubts that a hacker would have much interest in the blood pressure readings you're sending to your doctor. "They're probably more interested in your credit card number."

Schleyer thinks there's a lot of promise for technology to improve health care for Americans -- if, for instance, consumers can get not only test results sent to their phones, but also user-friendly information on what those results mean.

"But right now, none of this is mature yet," he said.

The poll results are based on an online survey of 2,050 Americans aged 18 and older, conducted between May 22-24.

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