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Patients are getting comfortable with remote health care – that is, receiving care from a health provider at a distance via, say, telehealth or via a Skype-type of set-up. Furthermore, 70% of people globally saying they would trust an automated device to provide a diagnosis that would help them determine whether or note they needed to see a doctor.

Based on the findings from Cisco‘s survey summarized in the Cisco Connected Customer Experience Report – Healthcare, published March 4, 2013, just-in-time for the annual 2013 HIMSS conference, a majority patients the world over are embracing health care delivered via communications networks.

Cisco conducted a customer experience survey across several vertical markets the company serves, such as retail, manufacturing and banking, among others. The company interviewed a total of 6,000 respondents globally, in 10 countries (the U.S., Canada, the UK, Germany, France, China, India, Japan, Russia and Brazil). Among these were 1,547 end-users in health care covering 4 age groups (18-29, 30-49, 50-66, and 67+). Health citizens in France did not participate in the health survey; Cisco swapped in Mexico for the health survey respondent pool.

The infographic shown is based on only U.S. data. 63% of U.S. adults are comfortable sharing medical information through the cloud: in particular, 28% would share their weight, 26% sleep, 25% exercise, 25% general health complaints, and 20% nutrition (food intake). Only 15% of U.S. consumers  said they would share their medical information such as blood pressure, blood glucose, or other vital signs.

The Wall Street Journal published a piece called Meet George Jetson, MD, on February 14, 2013, attesting to the fact that Cisco has piloted an avatar named Patty “who” has worked with hospital inpatients, giving them information on treatments and enabling them to ask questions of “Dr. Patty,” this virtual health provider.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: It is encouraging to see that a plethora of Americans are embracing the concepts of telehealth and digital health. That’s part of the demand side of the equation that is important for patient self-care, patient engagement and trust-building between patients and providers.

Another key voice in the market for telehealth, virtual health assistants, and digital platforms for health is the provider: hospitals and clinicians. There are some pioneering health providers who have long incorporated distance medicine into their workflows: some rural providers, some urban academic medical centers, and some integrated delivery systems. However, these are not yet the norm.

As value-based health financing further penetrates the U.S. health care landscape, these platforms for delivering care outside of the doctor’s office and hospital walls will become increasingly important. But adoption will require the stretching of new muscles for health providers — in particular, new workflows, even as we follow the money. So while consumers may wish for a more convenient mode of Jetsons-model of health care delivery, it will be several years before mainstream America reaches the tipping point of telehealth-for-all.