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Europeans see eHealth potential, but pharma faces a trust gap

Survey finds expectation that technology will help improve peoples' health

Europeans expect the use of eHealth technology, like online health resources, disease monitors and mobile apps, to improve their health status, according to a new survey.

ICT for Health involved 14,000 citizens from 14 European Union countries and found 54 per cent of respondents agreed that 'ICT for health could improve my health status', while 29 neither agreed nor disagreed.

Work on the online panel survey was led by the Information Society Unit within the European Commission's Institute for Prospective and Technological Studies.

The poll found low numbers of people recalled receiving health messages that were pushed out to them, and showed pharma has room to improve if it wants to be viewed as a trustworthy sources of health information.

The industry performed better than phone companies, shops and internet companies, with 8 per cent of respondents saying they trust pharma fully, 37 per cent trust it somewhat and 37 trust it a little. But 18 per cent of people said they do not trust pharma companies when it comes to health information.

Meanwhile, the survey found that 41 per cent of people had looked online for health information more than once a month, and a further 40 per cent used ICT for health less than once a month.

But far fewer people said they received messages about health promotion and/or health prevention – 61 per cent had never received this information, while the numbers that received it either more than once a month or less than once a month both stood at 17 per cent.

The research found only a minority made regular monthly use of health/wellness mobile apps (used by 10 per cent of respondents), devices for transmitting things like vital signs or other clinical information (12 per cent) and game consoles to play health or wellness related games (12 per cent).

The ICT – information and communications technology – for Health survey questioned 1,000 people each from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and the UK.

The data, drawn from a presentation by the Information Society Unit's scientific officer Francisco Lupiáñez-Villanueva, also highlighted differences in the way certain age groups use the internet for health the survey:

• Young people, generally also heavy users of Web 2.0 technologies, use ICT mostly in relation to “wellness and healthy life style”. This enables a “world of possibilities related to health promotion and prevention

• Middle-aged people are also active users of ICT for health, often acting as 'gatekeepers' for their household. In this role they work as enablers for others, “both the elderly and the youth within the households”

• The elderly basically use ICT for health for information and communication purposes, but there is a gap between this use and the services and devices which could be more effective, particularly when it comes to chronic conditions.

Further differences between the generations were noted, included that use of ICT for health among young and middle aged people was driven by their health status. Those suffering from chronic conditions, undergoing long-term treatment or who had more than one health problem were more likely to use ICT for health.

In contrast, the elderly were found to be more likely to use this technology if they are healthy, and in the short-term the 'healthier elderly' expected to push health systems to provide them with new solutions such as services and device to help tackle health problems that might emerge.

Lupiáñez-Villanueva concluded that there is a high potential for information and communications technology (ICT) to promote active and healthy individuals and increase empowerment.

• View the full presentation here

19th March 2012

From: Marketing

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