Guide Digital Health Information for the Consumer

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Results from our digital health consumer adoption survey. Mark Shankar Former Research Fellow. Halle Tecco Founder Emeritus. A tipping point in consumer health Digital health reached a tipping point in as consumers adopted digital health tools at a record rate over the last 12 months.

Forty-six percent of consumers are now considered active digital health adopters, having used three or more categories of digital health tools e. This broad, consumer-driven push for health data digitization and ownership is ushering healthcare out of the analog era. Health data ownership and control is important to consumers, and sharing of healthcare information is seen as acceptable only in specific use cases.

Physicians and family members are the two entities most trusted to keep health data private, while the government and tech companies are the least trusted. Despite starting up and shutting down several efforts in digital health, Google has consistently ranked as the most trusted tech company in this space. On the other hand, social media monolith Facebook and Watson-creator IBM are the least trusted tech companies. Nearly a third of people who downloaded a health app did so because the app was recommended by their doctor.

Of those who bought their wearable, a third did so in the last three months and two thirds made the purchase in the last six months. Consumers who self-pay for the service are more satisfied across the board. Over a quarter of consumers plan to use live video to receive medical care or electronically send a picture or video to their healthcare provider in the future.

Usage of telemedicine is highest amongst the age bracket across all mediums, followed by the age bracket. Patients continue to leverage Dr. Google Fifty-six percent of Americans who searched online for information about their symptoms have then proposed their own diagnosis to their physician based on that information we hear doctors love this! Sixty-two percent of Americans have used the Internet to search for information about prescription drugs.

Digital Health Consumer

Nearly half of Americans who have searched online for health information have asked their physician to prescribe or discontinue taking a specific drug based on information found. A third of Americans have used the Internet to gather information about supplements in the last six months. Fifty-six percent of Americans who sought information online about supplements have purchased or discontinued use of a supplement based on the information found.

Over a third of Americans have written an online review about a specific provider. Health-focused review sites such as ZocDoc or Healthgrades are slightly more popular than general review sites like Yelp. When searching online for a physician, the most important factors for Americans are quality of care, closely followed by insurance coverage, and location. Cost is rated the least helpful type of data. Consumers are in transition With data from , we see a clear upward trend of consumers taking control of their healthcare via the use of digital tools like telemedicine, wearables, and online provider reviews.

But the needle has not moved equally across every subgroup of the population—nor across every type of digital health solution. The data tell us that some subgroups prefer traditional healthcare channels; that patient demographics influence readiness to pay out of pocket for expanded services; and that those with chronic conditions often with the greatest potential to benefit from digital health are selective in their uptake of digital health.

So while digital health solutions promise impactful, even life-altering outcomes for patients, consumers are still transitioning to testing out—and sustainably integrating—these solutions into their lives.

Solutions for Health and Health Care

Respondents using digital health tools are satisfied with the experience—though winning innovators will create sustained engagement, drive behavior change, or both. Whether using wearables, digital health tracking apps, or telemedicine, survey respondents reported that they got what they were hoping for from the experience. For instance, even though respondents prefer in-person doctor visits to telemedicine, those who have used live video telemedicine are satisfied with it—particularly if they paid out of pocket. Respondents who tracked various health goals—for example, weight, physical activity, sleep, medication adherence—via digital apps and wearables reported making progress on or otherwise achieving their health goals 3.

While encouraging, innovators still have much to do to ensure sustained engagement that helps consumers achieve meaningful health outcomes.

Why changing consumer behaviour has paved the way for digital healthcare marketing

Those with a self-reported health condition are more likely to track health goals—though most do not use digital apps to do so. For instance, respondents taking medication and those with high blood pressure are likelier than not to track a related health goal; but a minority of these groups use a digital solution to do so.

However, respondents who self-identified as obese and who track diet or physical activity buck this trend. This subgroup has adopted digital tracking systems at a somewhat higher rate compared to the average for all respondents. Discontinued use threatens the lasting utility of wearables. Innovators must offer sustained value to customers or face the fate of other expendable gadgets. Companies must figure out how to deliver long-term value to ensure sustainable customer engagement, even if users hit health goals along the way.

Privacy Policy

Additionally, sorting out usability challenges is critical. Well over half of respondents search online for reviews, and a significant minority act on those reviews. Fifty-eight percent of respondents have, at some point in their lifetime, searched for an online review of a provider. Though most respondents are willing to share health data with their physician, there is a significant drop-off in willingness to share with other stakeholders.

Though sharing data with multiple entities is inevitable because sharing information with a physician nearly guarantees, for example, that it will be shared with a payer or pharmacy , the degree of trust respondents have varies across these groups.


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Relationships matter—having an in-person visit followed by a telemedicine visit with the same provider led to higher satisfaction with the video visit. Respondents who had a prior, in-person visit followed by a telemedicine interaction were significantly more likely to be satisfied with their telemedicine visit.

Consumers and the Digital Health Information Journey

This finding holds true across all channels of telemedicine outlined in the graphic , signaling several opportunities. First, providers have a tremendous opportunity to provide continuous care—and offer a great patient experience—through telemedicine. Second, these data support strategies that employ telemedicine to establish a more robust, long-term relationship with patients.