- A Kaiser Family Foundation survey published this week provides more evidence that health tech disruption may be more hype than reality.
- Though 70% of Americans surveyed use the internet to research symptoms or learn more about medical conditions and a majority use apps and other tools to track their fitness, nutrition and sleep, 44% of people have accessed their medical records online. Fewer than a fourth have used the internet to manage their healthcare spending, chronic conditions or mental health.
- The KFF survey also found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that young people are more likely to turn to the internet for their healthcare needs. Almost half of those aged 18 to 44 have used the internet to research a provider, compared to just 32% of those older than 45, KFF's Drew Altman wrote in a column.
Technology giants like Apple and Google remain bullish that their healthcare solutions could have serious return on investment, and buzzy health tech startups are darlings in Silicon Valley. But the KFF survey illustrates consumers' relatively tepid adoption.
The poll, conducted among roughly 1,000 people in August by National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, looked into the number of U.S. adults using their smartphone apps or the internet to research symptoms, manage health insurance and spending, track fitness and nutrition and engage in other health-related activities online.
Though many Americans use the internet and health apps for information-gathering and wellness, few use it to meaningfully interact with companies like their health insurer or provider, KFF found.
That could change as HHS continues its push towards interoperability. In February, CMS and the nation's health IT arm, the Office of the National Coordinator, released two sweeping rules aiming to foster unfettered data sharing across healthcare companies and give patients free electronic access to their health records.
ONC is in talks with the White House and Congress on regulating the third party health apps sure to crop up to help consumers organize and view their health data. Though the app economy in healthcare is still nascent, tech giants and startups alike are churning out products anyway.
Fitness tracking company Fitbit announced a paid service last month that includes personalized wellness reports users can download and share with their physician.
CVS Health-owned insurer Aetna launched its app, called Attain, for Apple Watch in May. The app combines wearable and claims data to allow users to set and manage health and activity goals while earning rewards. Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana and UnitedHealthcare offer similar mobile apps, but few include a wearable feature.
Earlier this week, Apple unveiled three new health research studies around hearing, the heart and women's health to be conducted in partnership with various hospitals, universities, associations and the government. That's on top of ongoing research the tech giant is conducting in tandem with pharma Eli Lilly and startup Evidation to see whether health features on the iPhone and Apple Watch can detect cognitive decline and dementia.