Re-examining the Accenture 2020 Digital Health Consumer Survey
Consumers’ use of digital tools to manage their health had declined before the pandemic. In fact, over two-fifths of Australian consumers surveyed (43%) were not using any digital tools to manage their health. Use of mobile devices and applications, and wearable devices both decreased between 2018 and 2020.
In early 2020, fewer consumers were using digital tools to manage their health
COVID-19 forced a surge
Virtual healthcare services have become a necessity for many Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic as efforts to slow transmission of the virus sharply limited face-to-face visits with doctors and other professionals. After years of incremental growth, many consumers were already considering remote care before the coronavirus: while just 10% of Australian consumers in our latest survey, which concluded immediately prior to the pandemic, had already received healthcare virtually, 48% were willing to receive virtual healthcare from traditional medical care providers.
Factors that could stall post-pandemic progress
Barriers to adoption though still ring true. Even as consumers gain confidence in digital tools and services post-pandemic, there is still work to be done to meet expectations for superior digital services. Amid the pandemic, consumers with nowhere else to turn were forced to lower their expectations for the quality of digital health experiences. But as things normalise, we believe that consumers will revert to prior expectations.
Personal digital health management motivation vital
Before necessity drove a surge in virtual services, one-fifth of healthcare consumers surveyed said reliable and secure digital tools that help them to understand their health habits would motivate them to take a more active role in managing their health. Yet only 11% said their healthcare providers recommend digital tools for patient health management.
Consumers doubt digital privacy, security and effectiveness
Technology has been a critical element of the response to COVID-19. Chatbots, for example, emerged during the crisis as an important way of managing demand for information about symptoms, treatment, and scheduling. Yet our survey showed limited consumer confidence in chatbots and other digital tools.
Many consumers doubt the effectiveness of digital tools and services
Consumer trust must be earned by new players
Australians trust their traditional healthcare providers, and that trust extends to data security. When asked “How much do you trust each of the following organisations or people to keep your digital healthcare information secure?” our survey respondents ranked hospitals (86%), doctors (84%), labs (81%), and pharmacies (80%) as most trusted.
Trust in keeping digital healthcare information secure drops significantly for tech companies and government
Consumers are interested in comprehensive virtual care
Beyond the urgency that drove adoption during the pandemic, and despite stalled growth in virtual health prior to COVID-19, consumers want virtual care services and doctors are key to promoting digital adoption and awareness.
Consumers want virtual care services beyond COVID
If given the choice, many healthcare consumers would choose virtual for basic care services, and even for specialty care. They “definitely” or “probably” would receive health and wellness advisories (52%), remote monitoring of ongoing health issues through at-home devices (52%) and nearly half (49%) would choose virtual for routine appointments. Some are open to receiving diagnoses virtually—35% for illnesses, diseases and disorders and 40% for appointments with medical specialists for diagnosis or acute care.
Virtual care from a variety of sources
While higher numbers of healthcare consumers are open to receiving virtual healthcare services from their traditional care providers (48%), they are also willing to receive virtual care from technology or social media companies (28%); retail brands (26%); and medical start-ups (24%).