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Consumer Use of Health Technology

By October 16, 2015Commentary

Deloitte’s Center for Health Solutions did a survey of consumers to see how they are and how they would like to be using online and mobile health information technology capabilities.   (Deloitte Report)   Deloitte divides consumers into 6 segments, with 44% being in four segments that are relatively engaged–Online and Onboard; Sick & Saavy; Out & About; Shop & Save–and 56% in two less engaged groups–Casual & Cautious and Content & Compliant.  Deloitte provides its view of the characteristics of each segment, suggests the need for differing techniques to engage these categories and gives ideas on what might work for each.

Since 2008 there has been a slight decrease in the percent of consumers who say they want their doctors to make health care decisions for them, at 27% in 2015, a slight decline in those who want to make the decisions themselves, at 25%, and an increase in patients who want to partner with doctors on health care decisions, at 48%.  While many consumers say they want to be actively involved in their health care, only 16% report actually asking the physician to consider other treatment options than the one initially recommended.

Patients do increasingly expect clinicians to involve them, with 34% saying doctors should encourage patients to research their health conditions and treatment options and 58% wanting physicians to explain treatment costs.  The number of patients who do use online resources continues to grow, with 52% saying they have searched for health information in the last year, and 25% have looked at provider performance scorecards or similar data.  People’s overall trust in these online sources has grown, with provider sources having the highest rating and those from health plans or drug companies the lowest.  People with serious health problems tend to be the highest users, which is a good sign.  Younger and high-income consumers also have high rates of use.  More consumers are also accessing and storing medical records and other health information  and using plan or provider portals to assist in health care related transactions, like requesting prescription refills.

From 2013 to 2015 the number of people measuring their fitness or health in some way has grown from 17% to 28%, with those aged 18 to 33 years having the highest rate at 45%.  And the use of technology-based monitoring for patients with chronic conditions has grown from 22% to 35%.  60% of people who use technology to measure or monitor health say doing so has made a significant impact on their behavior.  Health-related social media use has grown slightly, to 21% of consumers, with younger people showing higher rates.  In many of these categories, consumers express much higher levels of interest in using information tools or sources than they actually currently do use them.  Overall, the report suggests that health information technology use by consumers is increasing and interest is high.  Less clear whether this ultimately improves health, health care and lowers cost.

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