Not all executives have a clear path to deploying more digital tools and features. The roadblocks include insufficient funding (46%), fear of the unknown (35%), privacy issues/concerns (32%) and lack of expertise internally (29%), says Ernst & Young.

Digital healthcare. Consumers like it and want more of it. Healthcare organizations also like it and expect to give consumers more web and mobile tools to manage their health, wellness and healthcare business affairs.

But the big question is: When? A new survey of 2,455 consumers and 347 healthcare executives from Ernst & Young LLP provides some answers. The short answer is that 91% of healthcare organizations have or plan to begin a digital health initiative in the next year to “improve patient experience.” For 51% of healthcare organizations, use of data analytics is the top initiative followed by capturing patient experience initiatives at 47%, competitive benchmarking at 46% and patient experience at 45%.

By implementing more digital health tools 70% of healthcare providers say their top objective is an improved patient experience, followed by better clinical outcomes and customer relationships at 50%. “Analytics is a key element of the digital transformation we are currently witnessing throughout the health industry,” says Ernst & Young principal and health analytics advisory leader Christer Johnson. “Without it, organizations are less equipped to capture value, control costs, maintain or grow market share, and improve patient outcomes in an increasingly competitive market.”

But not all executives have a clear path to deploying more digital tools and features. The roadblocks include insufficient funding (46%), fear of the unknown (35%), privacy issues/concerns (32%) and lack of expertise internally (29%). “In the consumer-centric health ecosystem of the future, a focus on improving the patient experience will be absolutely critical,” says Ernst & Young U.S. health deputy leader Carole Faig. “Patients, providers and payers alike benefit from the emerging technologies that provide the types of connected experiences already seen in other industries. The growing adoption of these digital initiatives is another indicator that US health care is now embracing the era of convergence.”

Other survey findings include:

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  • 63% of healthcare executives say they’ve started an initiatives to improve medical errors and 63% for cost improvements.
  • Convenience (61%) and cost savings (55%) are the top incentives that motivate consumers to increase their digital engagement with doctors.
  • Less than 60% of consumers—44%—are using digital health tools.
  • 71% of physicians believe personal sensor technology will have an impact on patient care but 68% of doctors think at-home diagnostic testing will improve care and outcomes.
  • 56% of consumers would use “some form” of technology to interact with providers but only 7% would be more comfortable interacting with their physician online.
  • 21% of patients would conduct a video visit with their doctor and 33% of consumers would use a mobile device to send data to their physician.

There will be 75 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. by 2030, increasing to 98 million by 2060. That age demographic will have a different adoption curve for digital healthcare. Some findings:

  • Around 4 in 10 (42%) adults ages 65 and older now report owning smartphones, up from just 18% in 2013.
  • Today, 64% of seniors use the internet—a 55 percentage point increase in just under two decades. Half of older Americans now have broadband at home.
  • Seniors ages 65 to 69 are about twice as likely as those ages 80 and older to say they ever go online or have broadband at home, and they are roughly four times as likely to say they own smartphones.

“Technology adoption is a gateway to more positive aging expectations and experience by serving as a gateway for assistive services and home monitoring, providing support for family caregivers and enabling greater social interaction with friends and family,” Faig says. “Intuitive interfaces, such as those that offer voice activation and speech recognition, may offer an easy introduction for those who are not digitally savvy.”

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