Digital Health Use Survey

By December 16, 2016Commentary

Rock Health runs a digital health incubator and provides thought leadership in this often-mocked (by me, at least) space.  Its second annual survey of 4000 consumers gives insights into attitudes toward and use of digital health, primarily health apps, wearables and telemedicine.   (Rock Health Survey)   According to the survey, 46% of consumers are active digital health adopters, meaning they use three or more categories of digital health tools, up from 19% in 2015.  Only 12% are total non-users.  (that would be me)  39% say they are willing to pay for these capabilities out-of-pocket.  But most health tracking is still done in people’s heads.  (Easier to ignore that lack of weight loss if it isn’t recorded anywhere but your brain.)  High numbers of respondents say they have gone online to search for health information and often take what they learn to their providers.  A third of Americans have written an online review about a provider.  Cost tends to be a lowly ranked factor when searching for a doctor or pharmacy.  Healthy people tend to use more digital health.

For those using an app, the most common items recorded are physical activity and heart rate.  The least likely to be tracked in an app are blood pressure and medication adherence.  41% are using a health app they found online or in an app store and a third are using it because it was recommended by a doctor.  About 25% of people own a wearable, up from 12% in 2015, with Fitbit, Samsung and Apple products the most common.  Telemedicine use also showed rapid growth, from 7% in 2015 to 22% in 2016.  30% of these visits are self-pay.  Satisfaction rates are quite high, especially when the user pays for the telemedicine visit.  Telephone is the most commonly used medium, followed by email and text.  Live video has the highest satisfaction rate among telemedicine techniques.  Younger consumers are more likely to adopt telemedicine.

Most Americans would like to have access to an electronic copy of their health records and 20% have asked for or downloaded a copy in the last six months.  77% are willing to share their health information, particularly with providers.  Physicians and family members are the two groups most trusted to keep health data private, while government and tech companies are the least trusted.  Google is the most trusted tech company and Facebook and IBM the lowest.  But 87% indicate that security and privacy concerns mean they should have control over their data and 86% want to know all health data that is being collected about them.  62% would allow use of their health data from medical research.  Consumers are more leery about sharing genetic data than other types, but even here 64% would share such information with their physicians.

Kevin Roche

Author Kevin Roche

The Healthy Skeptic is a website about the health care system, and is written by Kevin Roche, who has many years of experience working in the health industry through Roche Consulting, LLC. Mr. Roche is available to assist health care companies through consulting arrangements and may be reached at khroche@healthy-skeptic.com.

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