The Longevity

As Consumer Faith in Digital Health Grows, So Does Demand

March 12, 2018 |

An Accenture study published last Wednesday sought to examine consumer demand for digital health tools. The study found that, not only were patients eagerly adopting digital tools to manage their health, users also expressed excitement about yet-to-come developments in the technology.

Consumer adoption of digital health services is blowing up and demand is unlikely to wane in the near future, according to a new Accenture study. The results from the survey of 2,301 consumers demonstrate that not only are consumers already using multiple tools to manage their health, they’re also excited about the next wave of technology on the horizon.

A central factor effecting adoption is the increased normalization of digital health services. For example, mobile health apps were seen as experimental as recently as a few years ago, but as faith in the technology has grown more consumers have come to adopt the technology.

Already, digital health tech that’s been around for only a few years, such as wearables and mobile health (mHealth) apps, has been accepted as commonplace:

•mHealth app use is exploding as a means of convenient health information retrieval and storage. As of 2018, just under half of all respondents say they’re using mobile health apps compared to 16% in 2014. Forty-four percent of respondents have used online portals to access electronic health records in the past year.
•Wearables are part and parcel of healthcare. Three-quarters of consumers are using health and fitness wearables, such as Fitbits and Apple Watches, to understand their illness, 73% to monitor and manage their health, and 73% to monitor the health of friends and family.

In addition, digital health services that address identified pain points in the healthcare system- for example, navigating insurance benefits or finding a new provider- are in increasingly high demand.

Meanwhile, consumers are excited by the potential of emerging technology to bring clinical procedures and administration into the home. This includes devices for home blood tests and having virtual assistants — like Siri or Alexa — help with health insurance, making appointments, and offering home healthcare. This enthusiasm comes despite the likelihood that these technologies are years away from mass market.

The study concludes that healthcare organizations can offer an improved consumer experience by incorporating digital health solutions into their existing workflows.

The study highlights the advantage that healthcare organizations can gain by offering digital health options.Observing consumer demand is more important than ever, as patients become more fickle about how they access their healthcare, according to a 2017 survey by West. Providers and payers that enable consumers to access popular features, such as booking appointments online, AI-powered mHealth apps, and virtual visits, will be more likely to retain their customer base.

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