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Digital Healthcare in Latin America: Chileans Prefer Seeking Online Healthcare Info via Search Engines Than Mobile Apps

First Posted: Jun 09, 2014 09:03 AM EDT

With more Latin Americans gaining access to online media, the region's population has become more engaged with digital healthcare. According to a January study by the think tank TrenDigital, approximately 9 out of 10 Internet users in Chile have searched for healthcare information on the Internet at least once.

The report, titled "Primer Reporte de E-Health en Chile," disclosed 91.6 percent of respondents find healthcare information online. Nearly two-thirds of respondents, or 66.7 percent, said they've made searches at least once per month.

The most common place Chileans stated they find healthcare information was through search engines. While using search engines was the top preference for Chileans -- with 91.6 percent -- specialized healthcare websites ranked second with 89.6 percent.

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Although mobile phone usage has picked up in Chile, with 85.4 percent noting they own a smartphone, most of the respondents preferred the online searches to accessing mobile apps for healthcare information. According to the Pew Research Center Global Attitudes Project, 39 percent of the general Chilean population owns a smartphone; 23 percent of the TrenDigital survey revealed they used apps for healthcare reasons.

Among the smartphone owners using healthcare-related mobile apps, training or fitness applications were Chileans' top choice with 33.1 percent; weight control apps, such as IMC calculator, ranked second with 24.6 percent; and reminders, akin to iPildora, scored 22.8 percent.

"Despite the relatively low adoption rates in the mobile healthcare category, Internet users and their doctors in Chile appeared to be generally keen to embrace digital media as a facilitator for health and fitness. Nearly half of respondents said they would be willing to pay for doctor appointments via videoconference," reported eMarketer, adding that 32.9 percent respondents described "neutral or positive reactions" from their doctors if they'd applied healthcare information online. However, 16.6 percent cited negative sentiments.

Emerging trends with technology in the healthcare sector were also highlighted in Mexico. A telephone-based healthcare advice and triage service has been available for over 1 million subscribers for only $5 per month, and it can be paid through their phone bills. The phone service, known as MedicallHome, offers professional health advice at a cost "far below" the average physician visit. MedicallHome, available at all hours of the day and week, does offer at-home doctor visits per requests but at a reduced price.


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