Consumers are increasingly using digital technologies to manage their own health

KEY TAKEAWAY: Research suggests that emerging technologies are shifting the composition of the care team.  Consumers are increasingly using digital technologies to manage their own health, they are adopting virtual care, and they see the advantages of harnessing the collective power of humans and machines. (Source: Accenture)

Several healthcare technology advancements are converging to deliver significant benefits to consumers. According to research from Accenture, health care consumers continue to show strong use of digital technology for self-service care — and the numbers are rising each year.In 2018, 75 percent of US consumers surveyed said technology is important to managing their health, up from 73 percent in 2016.

In some areas, such as patient portals, healthcare providers are keeping pace with demand. But when it comes to virtual care, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), consumer interest is surpassing what providers currently offer. There is an opportunity for providers to differentiate themselves by offering new, technologically advanced services that satisfy consumer interest and expectations. These services typically help to advance a new model of care in which patients, doctors and machines work together.

Consumers are increasingly using self-service digital health tools that go beyond websites. Accenture research shows increases across the board in the use of mobile, electronic health records (EHRs), social media, wearables, smart scales and online communities.

Websites continue to be the most commonly used technology, but usage has remained stable since 2016. Meanwhile, use of Internet of Health Things solutions like smart scales and wearables and social platforms such as online communities has nearly doubled in two years.

Use of wearables has more than tripled since 2014, from 9 percent to 33 percent. Nearly half (48 percent) of health care consumers are using mobile/tablet apps, compared to just 16 percent in 2014.

Insights:

I have talked, extensively, with physicians and nurses about eHealth and their biggest concern is that users will the data from eHealth to self-diagnose and treat without consulting an HCP.   As one leading physician told me “if eHealth helps patients manage their health and chronic condition I’m for it, but, if they are using eHealth as a substitute for seeing a qualified healthcare professional then I have a problem”.  

We are seeing a transformation in healthcare where eHealth tools are used more by people who feel that their physicians really don’t add value other than writing a prescription. Doctors are going to have learn how to integrate eHealth tools into patient treatments. However, even if the eHealth tools show a problem HCP’s are more likely to order a series of tests before diagnosing and treating. 

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