52% of consumers are willing to try virtual reality for group rehabilitation

More than a third of patients (36%) in the UK are being forced to wait a week for a doctor’s appointment while 42% feel so disheartened about seeing their GP that they’re opting to ‘put up’ with poor health, rather than endure extensive waiting times to seek help. The findings of design and innovation consultancy Plextek’s new medical vision report, The Future of Connected Home Health also reveal a further 29% are being asked to wait a fortnight for an appointment.

Drawing on a decade of experience within the NHS and medtec innovation, the report’s author Collette Johnson, Director of Medical at Plextek calls for an end to our overreliance on the traditional 9am-5pm GP surgery.

Instead she imagines a future where connected devices such as smart kitchen appliances and virtual reality (VR) are commonplace in the home for health monitoring, diagnostics, rehabilitation and therapy. Successfully implemented Collette argues this vision could help the NHS save at least 60% on the average the cost per patient, replace certain healthcare services and ease the pressure on GP surgeries and A&E departments.

The report draws on consumer research and expert medical opinion to demonstrate to the healthcare industry and medical device manufacturers the huge potential that life-changing connected home treatments could have for patient health monitoring and rehabilitation. Other key findings include:

* Concern for vulnerable patients: 76% of consumers worry about elderly relatives living alone, with 41% most worried about them suffering an emergency such as heart attack / a fall  

* Connected home technology’s impact on our happiness: Nearly a quarter (23%) of 55-64 year olds would be less stressed if their home could help with their healthcare.

* The data protection barrier: One third (33%) are worried about the security of personal data contained on their smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer.

* Demand for VR: 52% are willing to try VR for group rehabilitation, with 59% of 35-44 year olds are the age group saying they would like to use it for medical purposes.

Collette Johnson, Director of Medical, commented: “It’s appalling that patients requiring medical attention are waiting up to fourteen days simply to consult a professional, or worse, refusing to go at all. Integrating smart devices within the home to monitor and diagnose patients seems such a simple step in this modern age, especially when consumers seem so receptive to the idea of using systems such as VR as part of their rehabilitation. However before any of this can happen the industry has several challenges to overcome, including the ownership and safe-keeping of private medical data, that will not go away unless serious thought and legislation is put in place.”

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