Survey on digital health doesn’t make sense

  • According to Rock Health adoption of health continues to rise while consumers leverage digital health tools to address concrete health needs.
  • Most doctors say they have not recommended any general health and wellness apps or wearables to their patients. (Source: Kantar)
  • For medical-grade devices, the results are similar, with 70% of doctors saying they have not recommended medical-grade web-connected devices to their patients. (Source: Kantar).
  • Millennials, who usually have a high adoption rate of digital health, is failing as they are the most obese generation.
  • Most Americans are concerned about their weight and understand the connection between weight and cardiovascular health, but a substantial proportion of them are not doing much to lose excess weight, according to a Cleveland Clinic survey.

Rock Health released the results of a survey on digital health but perhaps they should ask themselves “what’s going on here?”. According to their survey “eighty-nine percent of respondents used at least one digital health tool—up from 80% in 2015”. If that’s the case then why are Millennials so obese, and why are 74 percent of respondents, in a sperate study so concerned about their weight and 65 percent are worried about getting heart disease related to being overweight or obese; however, less than half (43 percent) of respondents have tried to make dietary changes to lose weight.

Most digital health lack peer-reviewed research data

Among the 425 and 413 papers from current and exited unicorns that were identified by the researchers, just 8 percent and 11 percent, respectively, were considered to be “highly cited” (50 or more citations). Twenty-two of the 47 startups included had no highly-cited papers.

In particular, the researchers identified digital health startups as some of the worst offenders — Outcome Health, GuaHao, and Oscar Health had no peer-reviewed papers whatsoever, while Clover Health and Zocdoc only had one each. On the other hand, 23andMe led the pack with 107 articles, 16 of which were highly cited.

But then we learn why Rock Health would release this study.

New investments in digital health are skyrocketing, with 2018 already setting new records by Rock Health, StartUp Health and MobiHealthNews’ counts. A major conflict of interest?

Mobile health news takes it a step further “holding them (digital health) to a minimal standard of evaluation from the scientific community is crucial. Participation in peer review, with all its limitations, is the best way we have to uphold this standard.

Obviously Rock Health would have us believe the hype around digital health but while digital health is still sorting out winners from pretenders real healthcare organizations have to ask why are American’s losing the health battle with so many tools at their disposal?