In brief

In brief

  • The Accenture 2020 Digital Health Consumer Survey showed that before COVID-19, growth in digital health adoption had stalled.
  • The global pandemic greatly accelerated the adoption of virtual health, but will it persist? There is still work to be done.
  • Amid the pandemic, consumers with nowhere else to turn were forced to lower their expectations for the quality of digital health experiences.
  • There are several factors that could drive or stall post-pandemic progress.


Re-Examining the Accenture 2020 Digital Health Consumer Survey

Before COVID-19, growth in consumer digital health adoption had stalled. The global pandemic greatly accelerated the adoption of digital healthcare, but we found that the themes of our 2020 research still ring true. Although consumers are interested in virtual services, a cumbersome digital experience turns them off. Concerns over privacy, security and trust remain, along with difficulty integrating new tools and services into day-to-day clinical workflows.

Some US consumers (33%) are not using any digital tools to manage their health. Use of mobile devices and applications fell from 48% using these tools in 2018 to only 35% in 2020. Use of wearables has decreased from 33% in 2018 to just 18% in 2020.

Copyright © 2020 Accenture

COVID-19 forced a surge

Virtual healthcare services became a necessity for millions of Americans as efforts to slow transmission of COVID-19 sharply limited face-to-face visits with doctors and other care professionals. This historic change gives healthcare providers and payers an unprecedented chance to permanently shift the default care model to virtual services for many medical needs: going from forced to voluntary digital health adoption.

How can recent gains in digital healthcare be made permanent?

As in-person care resumes, providers, payers and consumers can seize the opportunity to maintain the momentum created by forced adoption and address the pre-crisis issues that have previously inhibited digital health adoption.

Providers need to enable digital health

Nearly a quarter of healthcare consumers (23%) say 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. More than half of consumers (55%) said “trusted healthcare professionals” would motivate them to take a more active role in managing their health, yet only 11% said that their healthcare providers recommended use of digital tools for patient health management.

Make doctors key to promoting digital engagement and awareness

Consumers look to providers for motivation to manage their health.

55%

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

11%

of consumers said that their regular healthcare provider recommended digital tools to manage health.

A bad first impression can turn consumers away

Half of healthcare consumers surveyed agree that a bad digital experience with a healthcare provider ruins the entire experience with that provider—and 39% believe a good digital interaction has a major influence on the patient experience. More than a quarter (26%) are even willing to switch to a new provider for high-quality digital services. 52% of consumers who have a primary care physician agreed that a bad digital experience with a provider ruins the entire experience with the provider, compared to 42% of those without a PCP.

More than one-quarter of US consumers are willing to switch new a new healthcare provider for high-quality digital services.

Copyright © 2020 Accenture

Concerns about privacy and security will resurface

The necessities of social distancing during COVID-19 outweigh privacy and security fears when other options for medical consultation are unavailable, but these issues didn’t disappear in the pandemic —concerns are just overlooked as people are not willing to risk their lives to leave the house.

In 2019, 89% of healthcare consumers trusted their doctor or other provider "very much" or "some" to keep their digital healthcare information, such as electronic medical records, secure. That percentage dropped to 83% in 2020. Trust in tech companies has also declined. More than half of consumers (55%) do not trust these companies to keep digital health information secure. When asked "how much do you trust each of the following organizations or people to keep your digital healthcare information secure?" doctors ranked as second-most trusted (83%)—following hospitals (84%)—whereas tech companies ranked second to last (45%).

Hospitals and doctors are the health ecosystem members most trusted by consumers for keeping their health information secure, whereas the trust in tech companies declined.

Copyright © 2020 Accenture

Consumers are interested in comprehensive virtual care

Before the pandemic urgency drove adoption, consumers already showed strong interest in a wide variety of virtual health services. Younger generations even prefer virtual over in-person care in some cases, when given the choice.

Consumers want a variety of virtual health services

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 (62%) and remote monitoring of ongoing health issues through at-home devices (57%).

62%

of consumers would choose virtual for health and wellness advisories.

57%

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

Virtual care from new and traditional providers

While higher numbers of healthcare consumers are open to receiving virtual healthcare services from their traditional providers (54%), they are also willing to receive virtual care from technology or social media companies such as Google and Microsoft (27%); retail brands such as Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon (25%); and medical startups (21%).

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

Kaveh Safavi

Senior Managing Director – Consulting, Global Health


Brian Kalis

Managing Director – Strategy, Health

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