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Men, chronically ill embrace virtual medical visits

A survey finds 78% of all respondents open to the idea of remote monitoring of their health care.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted Jan. 25, 2011

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Men and chronically ill patients are the most likely to support remote monitoring and virtual visits as part of their health care. But a large majority of the public is at least willing to give it a try, according to a new survey.

Euro RSCG Tonic, the New York-based consumer health and wellness arm of the marketing and communications firm Euro RSCG, conducted an Internet survey of 1,000 adults in mid-November 2010, and found that nearly half are receptive to virtual visits to save time and money, and 78% would be willing to give it a shot. Twenty-three percent said they would never consider a remote visit with a doctor.

The groups most favorable to virtual care are men (58%) and the chronically ill (84%).

Men like the idea of using technology to keep in touch with their physicians, said Kate Gill, director of strategic planning for Euro RSCG Tonic. And people with a chronic condition like the idea of staying in constant communication with their physicians and receiving regular feedback, she said.

Meanwhile, almost half of those surveyed said they are receptive to using mobile applications to run tests and check-ups at home

"We were somewhat surprised by how positive people were about embracing technology in health care," Gill said.

What was unclear, however, was whether the support was driven by people's general enthusiasm for technology or their fears of a physician shortage.

Seventy percent of survey respondents said they were concerned about a shortage caused by too many patients and not enough doctors. Survey respondents said they believed the addition of 30 million new patients entering the health care system as a result of health system reform only would make the problem worse.

Euro RSCG Tonic plans to use its recent survey as a baseline to determine how attitudes toward remote care may shift in the future.

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