Rock Health: Time to question all data

KEY IDEA: Rock Health says “digital health reached a tipping point in 2016 as consumers adopted digital health tools at a record rate over the last 12 months”.  However, there is a huge difference between “digital health” and “digital fitness”.

Rock Healh goes on to say ” forty-six percent of consumers are now considered active digital health adopters, having used three or more categories of digital health tools (e.g., telemedicine, wearables)—up from 19% in 2015. Only 12% of Americans are non-adopters, down from 20% in 2015″.

OK…first let’s get real about mHealth….

The Kentico Patient Attitudes Toward Healthcare on the Web Survey showed, in July 2015,  that about one-third of survey respondents said that mobile health was complicated and often difficult to access or navigate medical-based websites via mobile devices and 43 percent stated that they only use desktops when looking at health-related sites. Also, the majority of users prefer to communicate with their primary physicians via mobile texting, but only 19 percent are offered this opportunity through their healthcare providers.

Then there is the AMA’s thoughts. In a speech delivered at the AMA’s recent annual meeting, CEO James Madara described the digital health industry as peddling apps and devices that “impede care, confuse patients, and waste our time.” Without naming names, he referenced ineffective electronic medical records, direct-to-consumer digital health products, and apps of “mixed quality.  AMA’s Madara said that “one study that looked at more than 1,000 health care apps for patients—and found that just 43% of iOS apps and 27% of Android apps were likely to be useful”.

A research trial evaluating mobile healthcare technology versus traditional disease management reveals “little evidence” digital medicine intervention reduces healthcare costs or drives greater consumer healthcare interest, though some improvement in health self-management was reported.  The six-month Scripps Translational Science Institute trial provided 160 participants managing hypertension, diabetes and/or cardiac arrhythmia with iPhone-enabled biosensors, blood pressure monitors, blood glucose meters or a mobile ECG device. Participants were provided data aggregation and visualization tools to track and view data via an online dashboard accessible to caregivers. The goal was to ascertain if mHealth utilization impacted healthcare insurance claims.

But the Rock Health report would have you believe that we are on the verge of a huge shift to digital health when it’s not digital health at all but rather fitness devices.  This is a good reason why DTC marketers need to challenge ALL data and ask “why?” and “how?”  This reports is so not worth the money.