90% of Americans use digital health tools, survey shows
- Consumers continue to embrace digital health tools, with 90% of respondents in a new Rock Health survey using at least one last year, up from 80% in 2016.
- The greatest adoption is occurring around online health information (79% vs. 72%) and online provider reviews (58% vs. 51%). A slower uptick was seen in mobile tracking (24% vs. 22%), while wearables held steady at 24% and live video televisits slipped three percentage points to 19%.
- But while 77% of people prefer in-person doctor visits to telehealth, most who used video visits were satisfied with the experience. Among those who paid for their virtual encounter, 91% said they were satisfied. That number dropped to 62% when someone else paid.
Likewise, while not everyone is jumping at the idea of wearables, those who use them report progress meeting personal health goals. The chief reasons people use wearables are to track physical activity, lose weight, improve sleep and manage stress.
The tools for doing so are proliferating, with mobile operating systems and various apps offering to track the information. Fitibit has been upping the ante, and recently launched a product line update that includes detection of blood oxygen levels, goal-based exercise modes and a sleep tracking beta.
Interestingly, while people with specific health challenges are more likely to track their health, only 11% do so via a digital app or online journal. For example, 54% of respondents said they track their medications, but just 11% do that digitally. More than a third reported tracking their weight, but only 20% used a digital app.
Among the nearly quarter of respondents who own a wearable or smartwatch, more than a quarter of those no longer use it. About 30% said they quit using their wearable because they had reached their goal, while 20% ditched the device as ineffective in achieving their aim.
Another curious finding: Though more than half of respondents report using online reviews to search for providers, only a "significant minority" actually act on those reviews. That may be welcome news to hospitals, payers and others who are alarmed at the proliferation of online rating sites and trying to take charge of the narrative. In a Binary Fountain survey, 95% of patient respondents said online reviews and ratings are "somewhat" or "very" reliable and three-fourths said the ratings had influenced which physician they chose to visit.
Younger consumers are particularly ready to use digital health tools, but they and others want assurances of data security and privacy. People were most confident (87%) sharing their data with a doctor. The comfort level dropped to 68% with a pharmacy and 60% for insurers. Tech companies came in last at just 24%.
Apple is trying to bridge that confidence gap by teaming up with hundreds of health systems, hospitals and providers to give iPhone users more control over their personal health information. The tech giant has also opened up its health records API with the hope of creating an "ecosystem of apps that use health record data to better manage medications, nutrition plans, diagnosed diseases and more."
- Rock Health Healthcare consumers in a digital transition