According to a survey, 66% of Americans are interested in receiving health-related reminder e-mails from their health insurance company and 52% would be open to receiving e-mails that provide them with feedback on their health progress. These are among the findings of a survey released today (June 3) by Microsoft. The findings are supposed to help Microsoft sell its solutions in the healthcare segment.

As healthcare is a potential market segment, an array of tech-based initiatives has come from leaders like IBM, Intel, and Microsoft. Here’s a synopsis of the major health tech forays as part of the My Techbox Online Market Intelligence Series. (Read: Techs that Take Care of Your Health)

Even mobiles are being increasingly used for healthcare needs. Particularly, iPhone is being used for sick children as well as a physical trainer for women. Also, scientists at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) want to treat stuttering with the smart device. (Read: Using iPhone for Health Apps)

The recent survey, according to Microsoft, shows that Americans would like their health insurers and physicians to proactively use technology to help them build healthier lifestyles. The Microsoft Health Engagement Survey 2009, conducted by Kelton Research, found that consumers want electronic “coaching” via e-mail and phones to help them improve health habits, self-manage conditions, and better coordinate care with providers.

Though the survey is apparently done by an external agency, its findings dramatically favour Microsoft offerings. Obviously. 

For example, technology from Tellme Networks Inc., a Microsoft subsidiary, delivers interactive telephone and text message reminders to manage prescription adherence or track calories after meals. And Microsoft HealthVault, a personal health platform, aims to assist people in making health-related decisions using information from different data sources, including providers, pharmacies, insurers, and devices such as blood pressure monitors and pedometers. 

So, the survey findings will help Microsoft create market demand for its solutions. Still, you can take a look at other results. 

It says more than half (55%) reported the healthcare system as fragmented in terms of helping people proactively manage their health. People who feel this way are far more likely to rely on general health Web sites for information, rather than doctors or health advisory hotlines that insurers offer (25%, versus 18% of those who feel the system is seamless).

Also, almost half (49%) of insured Americans feel their health plans support them only when they need to visit a doctor, instead of helping them stay well. Of consumers who did access insurers’ Web sites, 49% used it primarily to find a provider and 48% were looking for coverage information.

The survey results, says Microsoft, point to the fact that technology is not yet helping Americans proactively manage their health. Currently, consumers reactively turn to health Web sites looking for information about a current issue or illness (68%) instead of to learn how to become healthier.

However, consumers seem to be ready to incorporate technology into their health behavior. Almost four in five (77%) of Americans find the idea of technology helping solve their healthcare needs as “inviting” instead of “intimidating.” While they prefer e-mail (66%) and the telephone (57%) as the best channels to communicate with their insurers, some also are open to text messaging (10%), instant messaging (7%), and videoconferencing (4%), the survey informs.

Los Angeles-based Kelton Research conducted the Microsoft Health Engagement Survey 2009 in March 2009 among 1,002 Americans, ages 18 and older.


About Rakesh Raman

Have extensive editorial, content management, and integrated communications experience and have worked as a senior tech journalist, analyst, and columnist with different newspapers, magazines, and Web/online properties in India.

One response »

  1. lhw says:

    Given the amount of time that the general population spends in front of his/her computer, it doesn’t surprise me at all that 77% of the people surveyed are comfortable turning to technology for health-related advise, research or assistance. A similar amount would probably welcome health checks and reminders regarding wellness-based tests or preventive visits. I’ll admit that I am on board with this concept, and actually use a HealthVault account to compile and store relevant health information. To me, it’s much more efficient and effective. I have workout apps and weight journal apps on my iPhone, too, so I guess that I am very much an advocate for using technology to improve my day.

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