Consumers want more control over their health, wellness

Mobile apps, retail clinics, social media indicate growth personalization of health care

A new survey by Wolters Kluwer Health indicated that a large majority of consumers think it's a good thing that more individuals are taking a larger and more active role in their own health care.

This should come as no surprise, as recent years have seen tremendous growth in things like electronic personal health records, mobile apps and use of social media. It also ties in with trends in the devolution of health care to the consumer level, such as retail clinics.

Rite Aid's slogan is "With Us, It's Personal," and a major component of that chain's Wellness store concept is giving customers the means to take charge of their own health and wellness. One company's slogan contains a grain of truth common to the entire industry, however, as pharmacy retailers have become central players in the personalization of health care by offering services like mobile apps and retail clinics, not to mention a wide variety of products that customers can use to take care of themselves.

Meanwhile, another study, by Royal Philips Electronics, shows that more than 10% of consumers not only see mobile health apps as convenient tools, but also credit those apps with saving their lives. And social media have become a common way for consumers to share information about their conditions with others and also explore possible health problems, as a survey released last month by GE Healthcare shows that online discussions of health and wellness can lead to better behaviors among adults.

None of this, of course, takes physicians, nurses or pharmacists out of the equation. At the end of the day, it's healthcare professionals who have the power to diagnose, prescribe and dispense. But it does mean that people are taking charge of their own health care and treating their health as a customer experience, and that's what the personalization of health care is all about.

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