Health matters in a connected world.
Digital healthcare may never fully replace the traditional doctor-patient relationship, but wearables and mobile health apps have made the pill easier to swallow.
A survey of over 8,000 global healthcare consumers by Accenture Consulting said that patients were now comfortable with health apps or wearables as part of a doctor’s orders. According to Accenture’s 2016 Consumer Survey On Patient Engagement, around 78% of people would wear health-tracking technology to track their fitness and vital signs, while the number of people who use health apps has increased from 16% in 2014 to 33% in two years.
About 76% of patients who were told by a doctor to use wearables for health tracking followed the recommendation, with 85% of doctors citing increased levels of engagement between the physician and patient as a result. The survey said that the majority of people (90%) would not think twice about giving access to data generated by a wearable or an app to a doctor, although only 31% said that they would share that information with an employer.
The Digital Doctor Is In
Four out of 10 patients who have health apps have passed that information on to either a doctor or a nurse in the last 12 months, the report said. The number of people who were comfortable with a “virtual doctor appointment” increased from 23% in 2014 to 29% in 2016. Both physicians and consumers said that a virtual visit was convenient and timely and reduced the cost of a physical appointment.
“Digital tools are empowering patients to take charge of their health and interact with the system on their own terms,” said Dr. Kaveh Safavi, Accenture’s senior managing director for the health industry, in a press release. “Healthcare providers will need to weave digital capabilities into the core of their business model so that it becomes embedded in everything they do.”
Fitness and diet were the most popular health apps, the report said. Nearly 60% of all health apps used were fitness-based with 52% nutritional. People aged between 18 and 34 used mobile apps the most, with 78% using a mobile app or wearable to keep an eye on either their lifestyle or any potential health issues.
Individual symptom trackers accounted for 36% of apps while 25% of people used an overall health guide to monitor their health. Medication managers were lower on the list with only 12% of patients using an app to remind them to take their prescription.
Patients Can Manage Their Own Health
In a companion study by Accenture, 79% of doctors said that their job was made easier by digital healthcare tools. Patients could access their electronic health records through a dedicated portal and 72% of doctors said that they prescribed treatment or medication virtually.
While healthcare systems vary around the world, healthcare IT in the United States is still in a nascent stage, the Accenture Doctors Survey 2015 said.
The major benefit was that doctors can communicate with patients on a more regular basis, which has led to a patient satisfaction rate of 81%. However, 58% of American doctors said that electronic health record systems are not easy to use in their particular organization and doctors are still on the fence when it comes to the positive impact of digital treatment.
“Adoption rates of health apps and wearables over the past two years have been significant, showing that patients are leading the way in using digital tools to manage their own health,” said Dr. Safavi, eWeek reported. “U.S. consumers continue to demand a digitally-enabled health care experience, yet health care falls behind many other industries in making this available to them. That said, to get ahead, providers can invest in digital tools and strategies to better adapt to consumers’ changing expectations.”