This week we start with a couple of reports relating to digital health, whatever that is. The first comes from HealthMine and gives the state of digital health tools. (HM Report) The report is based on a survey of about 500 adults covered in commercial health plans, 58% of whom were women and 46% were between the ages of 25 and 34. Digital tools include health apps (there are estimated to be 165,000 of these available for Apple and Android phones), fitness trackers, smart watches, monitoring equipment, etc. The most popular tools among users of digital health are fitness and exercise ones, used by 50% of respondents, food and nutrition, used by 46%, and weight loss, used by 39%. 38% had wearable fitness trackers. 32% of respondents said they used a digital tool 2 or more times a day, 26% said they did so once a day; and 20% said several times a week. 89% said the tools are simple to use and 83% said the data is easy to understand. 76% claim using the digital health tool has made them more healthy and 57% say it reduced their health care costs.
In general consumers are willing to share the collected data. 75% said they would share it with their provider, 39% with their health plan, 37% with friends or family and 16% for scientific research. But only 32% have provided their doctor with automatic access to the data. People who don’t share data express concerns about protecting privacy, lack of benefit and not knowing how to share it. 46% say their doctor doesn’t use data from digital tools in managing their health. Interestingly, 58% of respondents said they would just as soon not get text or email updates from their physician regarding their health. 60% report that their provider uses an electronic health record and 71% of those say they can access it, but only 22% say they use those records to help make medical decisions. Astoundingly, 39% of these respondents had not heard of telemedicine, but for those who had used telemedicine, 93% said it lowered the cost of their health care. But most still prefer to see a doctor in person. Some were concerned about the quality of care and some were unsure if insurance would pay for telemedicine. 59% say they have a chronic condition, but only 7% of these people use a disease management app. 52% of respondents were in a wellness program and 33% actually got their digital tool from the program. While 66% say an incentive is available for using the tools, only 10% say that is why they do so. Most use them to know more about their health condition. Use of digital health tools appears to be growing, but value appears uncertain as yet.