Digital Health Consumer Trends in 2016

Rock Health, a venture fund dedicated to digital health, has put out its second annual national survey on how consumers use digital health.  The nationally-representative, 4,000 person survey looks at a variety of aspects, from adoption of wearables and telemedicine, to who people trust most with their medical information.

Here we take a look at some of the highlights:

Consumer health hits a tipping point

More than half of Americans are now considered active digital health adopters, meaning 56 percent have engaged in at least three categories of digital health. This number is up from 19 percent in 2015.

Ten percent of consumers surveyed are considered “super adopters”, using five or more forms of digital health, which is up from 2 percent in 2015.

In 2015, 20 percent of survey respondents used no form of digital health, or a non-adopter – that number dropped to 12 percent in 2016.

A rise in telemedicine

More people are turning to digital tools for healthcare services, with video-based telemedicine use increasing from just 7 percent in 2015 to 22 percent in 2016.

Even though it saw a surge in adoption, at 22 percent live video was still in last place in terms of adoption of telemedicine.  The most popular medium of telemedicine was telephone (59 percent), with email coming in second at 41 percent, followed by text message with 29 percent.

Although live video has the fewest adopters, users reported the highest satisfaction rate of 83 percent.  That said, satisfaction rates for all forms of telemedicine asked about were above 75 percent.

Unsurprisingly, the adoption of telemedicine across all mediums was highest amongst those between the ages of 25 and 34.

“If we were to reimburse the use of digital health technologies, that would drive a meaningful increase in adoption. Insurers will get on board once these tools are shown to reduce costs and consumption of resources,” Eric Topol, Director, Scripps Translational Science Institute told Rock Health.

Health data ownership and sharing information

With digital health comes questions about privacy and ownership.  The vast majority of survey respondents, 87 percent, said they should be in control of who can access their health data, while nearly 86 percent said they should be informed what health data is collected about them.

While privacy and security of health data are concerns, most people are interested in sharing information both for the benefit of their own care and to help others. If it means getting better care from their doctor, 77 percent said they are interested in sharing health information. More people said they would share their health data for the public good for medical research (62 percent), than those who would exchange their data for money (42 percent).

While willingness to share information, such as health history (89 percent), physical activity (88 percent), and genetic data (84 percent) was high overall, who they would share with was more specific.  Physicians and family members ranked in the top two positions, while biopharma, the government and technology companies came in at the bottom.

For those who were willing to share with a tech company at all, Google was the most trusted with 60 percent saying they would share data.  Facebook and IBM were the least trusted tech companies for sharing data.

Digital health still dominated my millennials

The number of consumers owning a wearable device increased from 12 percent in 2015 to almost 25 percent in 2016, however the numbers don’t divide evenly across age groups.

Forty percent of respondents, aged18 to 34 years own a wearable, while 26 percent of Gen Xers (those ages 35 to 54 years) do.  Only one in 10, age 55 and over own a wearable.

The numbers are similar for using synchronous video telemedicine, with 42 percent of millennials responding they had used it, compared to 25 percent of Gen Xers and less than 5 percent of Baby Boomers.

All ages agreed that phone calls are the most popular form for medical care, while live video ranked last across age groups.

Baby Boomers reported that the most popular way to track health was to keep mental notes, but for those that do use an app, tracking physical activity was the most popular (25 percent), followed by sleep (17 percent) and heart rate (10 percent).

According to the report 25 percent of millennials downloaded a health app in the last month, compared to 20 percent of Gen Xers and 7 percent of baby boomers.

Source: dddmag