- Increasing consumer demand for digital health services is transforming the care delivery team, putting patients and technologies in the driver’s seat alongside physicians, a new Accenture survey suggests.
- The survey of 2,301 U.S. consumers finds greater acceptance of virtual medical encounters, artificial intelligence and other machine-based services being part of their healthcare experience.
- One in five respondents said they have previously used AI-enabled healthcare services and most said they expect to use them in the future. Of those, 66% cited home-based diagnostics, 61% cited virtual health assistants and 55% cited virtual nurse monitoring of health conditions, medications and vital signs.
Consumers are also using a wider array of digital health tools, according to the survey, which found a three-fold increase in mobile and tablet health apps over the past four years — to 48% currently from 16% in 2014. Nearly half of respondents (44%) said they used patient portals to access EHRs, primarily for test results, physician notes and prescription history.
Meanwhile, 33% of respondents reported using wearables, up from 9% in 2014, and about three-fourths said wearables help them stay on top of their health or that of a loved one.
“Driven by experiences outside of healthcare, consumers increasingly expect to use digital technologies to control when, where and how they receive care services,” Kaveh Safavi, Accenture’s global health practice lead, said in a statement. “By harnessing digital technologies in this way, healthcare will increasingly tap digital technologies to empower human judgment, free up clinician time and personalize care services to put control in the patients’ hands.”
The survey reflects the growing market for digital health solutions as an adjunct not only to clinical services but also consumers’ ability to engage in their personal health.
Digital health investment hit $5.6 billion on about 326 deals by mid-December, according to Rock Health — well ahead of 2016’s $4.4 billion year-end total. An Accenture analysis released in November predicted funding for digital health startups could top $7 billion in 2017. Top funding categories included virtual care/coordination, wearable devices, personalized medicine, enhanced diagnostics and Big Data and analytics.
Other findings from the Accenture survey:
- 90% of respondents are willing to share personal data with their doctor, and 88% will share it with a nurse or other healthcare professional.
- 25% received virtual care services in the past year, up from 21% in the 2017 survey.
- 74% were pleased with their virtual care experience, with 47% saying they prefer virtual care over a delayed in-person visit.
- 54% view virtual care as less costly and 43% see it as a time-saver compared with in-person appointments.
The survey mirrors others that have found increasing preference for virtual care options. In a January 2017 American Well survey, 20% of consumers said they would switch primary care providers to gain access to telehealth services.