Consumers are using more digital tools such as telemedicine, health and fitness wearables and apps and online physician reviews, but some digital health tools are being used—and more often—than others, Rock Health says.

At least 90% of consumers have used at least one digital healthcare tool, says a new survey of 4,000 users by San Francisco research firm Rock Health.

The use of digital health tools by consumers is widespread but one-time use is essentially flat. In a year over year comparison, about 87% consumers responding to Rock Health’s annual survey had used a digital health tool at least once in the past 12 months. That compares with 80% in 2015.

The survey shows that consumers are using more digital tools such as telemedicine, health and fitness wearables and apps and online physician reviews. But some digital health tools are being used—and more often—than others, Rock Health says. “The needle has not moved equally across every subgroup of the population—nor across every type of digital health solution,” the survey says.

For example, consumers use digital tools most frequently to view their health information online (79%) and read online provider reviews (58%). In comparison 24% of consumers have purchased some type of health wearable and used that device to track various health and wellness metrics. So far only 19% of consumers have done a video doctor visit, although only 7% had conducted one in 2015.

“Chronically ill seniors have the greatest demand for healthcare services—86% visited a doctor at least twice in the past year and 97% are managing at least one prescription,” says Rock Health researcher Megan Zweig. “Yet they are the least likely to leverage digital health technologies, with extremely low rates of live video telemedicine use, digital health goal tracking, and wearable use.”

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Consumers apparently are satisfied with their use of various healthcare tools. For example, 71% of survey respondents noted they were satisfied with their telehealth visit. But consumers that use a wearable and health app tend to not use them much (if at all) after they have reached certain health and wellness goals or don’t get intended results, says Rock Health.

“The top two reasons for discontinued wearable use are contradictory: nearly 30% of users discontinued use after achieving their intended goal, while 20% stopped use because the wearable was ineffective in helping them achieve their goal,” Rock Health says.

Other key findings include:

  • Though most consumers are willing to share health data with their physician, there is a significant drop-off in willingness to share with other stakeholders. 58% are willing to share with health insurance companies and 52% with pharmacies.
  • Consumer  confidence in data security of technology companies declined from 31% in 2016 to 24% in 2017. ‘We see a clear upward trend of consumers taking control of their healthcare via the use of digital tools like telemedicine, wearables, and online provider reviews,” Rock Health says.

 

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