RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Accenture’s 2020 Digital Health Consumer Survey showed that Singaporean digital health uptake has been strong, but momentum was lost before COVID.
  • Despite being tech savvy consumers, almost one-fifth of Singaporeans (19%) were not using any digital tools to manage their health.
  • The pandemic accelerated adoption of digital healthcare, but will it persist? There is work to be done to build consumer trust in digital services.
  • There are several factors that could drive or stall post-pandemic progress – read the full pdf for details.


Re-Examining the Accenture 2020 Digital Health Consumer Survey

Consumers’ use of digital tools to manage their health had declined before the pandemic. Use of mobile devices and applications fell from nearly two-thirds (64%) using these tools in 2018 to 49% in early 2020. Use of wearable technology—for instance, devices that collect health data such as fitness and vitals—has decreased from 47% in 2018 to just 38% in 2020.

From 2014-2018, digital health adoption rose sharply in Singapore. In the last two years, it stalled. COVID-19 has reinvigorated digital health, and now it's up to providers to sustain it by building trust, and effective services.

COVID-19 forced a surge

Virtual healthcare services became a necessity for many Singaporeans 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 17% of Singapore consumers in our latest survey, which concluded just before the pandemic swept across the country, had already received healthcare virtually, 55% were willing to receive virtual healthcare from traditional medical care providers.

What could drive and 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, 37% 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 one-fifth said their healthcare providers recommend digital tools for patient health management.

Singaporeans value financial incentives to stay healthy

Trusted healthcare professionals are also very important to motivate Singaporeans to manage their own health.

54%

Of consumers say “financial support or incentives to say healthy” would motivate them to take a more active role in managing their health.

46%

Of consumers said that “trusted healthcare professionals” would motivate them to take a more active role in managing their health.

Consumers question the privacy, security and effectiveness of digital tools

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.

Privacy and data security and doubts about effectiveness are major reasons that consumers doubt the effectiveness of digital tools and services.

Consumer trust must be earned by new players

Singaporeans 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 (85%), doctors (81%), labs (78%), and urgent care or walk-in retail clinics (73%) as most trusted.

Trust is much lower for technology companies: Just 44% trust these new entrants. Globally, the reputation of major consumer technology firms has suffered in the past few years, which may be reflected in our statistics.

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

Given the choice, most healthcare consumers would choose virtual for basic care services, and even for specialty care. They “definitely” or “probably” would receive health and wellness advisories (75%), remote monitoring of ongoing health issues through at-home devices (69%) and 60% would choose virtual for routine appointments. Some are open to receiving diagnoses virtually—43% for illnesses, diseases and disorders and 55% for appointments with medical specialists for diagnosis or acute care.

75%

Of consumers would choose virtual for health and wellness advisories.

69%

Of consumers are open to remote monitoring of ongoing health issues through at-home devices.

Virtual care from a variety of sources

While higher numbers of healthcare consumers are open to receiving virtual healthcare services from their traditional providers (55%), they are also willing to receive virtual care from technology or social media companies such as Google and Microsoft (39%); medical start-ups (35%); and retail brands (31%).

Getting doctors to sustainably buy into digital health could have a big impact on adoption

Asad Khan

Managing Director – Technology, Health & Public Service Lead, Southeast Asia


Mark Tham

Managing Director – Health & Public Service, Client Group Lead, Southeast Asia​


Paul Tan

Senior Manager – Health and Public Services

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