Majority of people open to using telehealth for sleep concerns
A recently released report from Royal Philips found that although few people have sought help from a sleep specialist via telehealth, the majority of survey respondents said they'd be willing to try it.
The survey examined the attitudes, perceptions and behaviors of 13,000 adults in 13 countries around sleep. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they'd experienced new sleep challenges since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with women reporting more sleep struggles than men.
"This year’s survey results confirm what we’ve known to be true for a while: with the right solutions, care doesn’t have to be defined by a place, but instead by the needs of the individual and his or her condition,” said Dr. Teofilo Lee-Chiong, chief medical liaison, sleep and respiratory care at Philips, in a statement.
WHY IT MATTERS
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the survey results signaled a broader interest in virtual care spurred on by the global pandemic.
Nearly one-third of consumers said they'd had a telehealth appointment during the crisis, and more than half of them said it was their first one.
And although only 15% said they'd sought help from a sleep specialist via telemedicine, 58% said they'd be willing to try it in the future – compared with the 36% who said they would for non-sleep-related concerns.
"The tools required to deliver telehealth efficiently and reliably already exist, and the interest from consumers is apparent, particularly in the face of COVID-19," said Lee-Chiong.
The results did suggest that patient outreach techniques are lacking: 70% said they expected it to be at least somewhat difficult to find a sleep specialist through an online or telephone-based program.
Only 55% of adults said they were satisfied with their sleep. Respondents from India reported the highest degree of at least partial satisfaction, and those from Japan reported the lowest.
In the United States, 40% of respondents said they were at least somewhat satisfied with their sleep.
THE LARGER TREND
Vendors have deployed a number of tools focused on improving sleep health, including wearable trackers and behavioral therapy software.
This past year, Apple launched a sleep tracker for the Apple Watch, with HIMSS Media Editor in Chief Jonah Comstock calling the feature a "whole sleep experience."
Not to be outdone, Amazon released its own wearable tracker that included sleep sensors as part of its wellness evaluation.
"Health is much more than just the number of steps you take in a day or how many hours you sleep. Amazon Halo combines the latest medical science, highly accurate data via the Halo Band sensors, and cutting-edge artificial intelligence to offer a more comprehensive approach to improving your health and wellness," said Dr. Maulik Majmudar, the principal medical officer at Amazon Halo, in a statement.
ON THE RECORD
"When used properly, sleep telehealth has the potential to enhance efficiency and quality of care, improve health outcomes, empower patients to make informed decisions, and provide equitable healthcare for all," said Lee-Chiong in a statement.
Healthcare Everywhere, Every Day
The onset of the COVID-19 crisis a year ago, with its widespread quarantines and lockdowns, offered telemedicine its moment to shine after years of under-fulfilled promise. As states look toward a post-pandemic world it's time to build on that promise.