Smart devices and the empowered patient

These are the days of the empowered patient — the patient who asks questions; who wants to know about how to prevent the diseases that ailed their parents or how to live more successfully with the conditions they have; and who seeks and finds health information from doctors, nurses, magazines and most especially from the teeming trove of online health sites.

Cultural and generational shifts are one reason for the change in attitude, from quiet and nonquestioning acquiescence to health activism and self-care. Today’s patients — including my own boomer generation that has always questioned everything we’ve confronted at every stage of life — aren’t willing to just submit to whatever directives or pronouncements come from their doctors and go quietly through the medical maze. They want answers.

But another factor behind patients’ growing sense of empowerment is simply the explosion in instantly accessible information now available to patients and consumers through such mobile devices as smartphones and tablets. A new survey of AccentHealth viewers found that more than half of consumers — 57%, to be exact — use their smart devices to make at least some purchasing decisions at the store shelf.

That’s according to a report from Drug Store News senior editor Michael Johnsen. What’s more, nearly half of those surveyed who don’t yet use retail apps to check a product’s price or availability told researchers they “would be likely to download an app in the future,” according to the report.

Why does this matter that much to pharmacists or pharmacy technicians? Because 16% of the respondents said they use their smart device for pharmacy-related items, “including prescriptions and OTCs — making pharmacy products the second-largest category (behind electronics and appliances),” Johnsen writes.

Are smart phones changing the way consumers shop for over-the-counter health items, or even where they fill their prescriptions? Please share your thoughts by clicking on the comment button.

Login or Register to post a comment.