Are consumers giving up on digital health?
For the first time in our multi-year, multi-country research program, we’ve seen no uptick in digital health management activity by US consumers—in fact, it dropped in certain areas. While actual users see benefits in these services, growing mistrust in the technology industry, security concerns and a cumbersome first digital experience may have turned some people off or kept them away. Consumers look to trusted providers to motivate them to manage their health; however, so far, relatively few doctors are recommending digital tools to do so.
Users see benefits in digital health—but not always
Despite the drop in use, those consumers who use digital tools and services to manage their health are experiencing benefits. In fact, 43% say these services have "increased my focus on wellness and prevention" and 34% say digital services have given them a better understanding of their health. Nearly one-quarter of consumers (24%) say digital health services provide "increased convenience of accessing care."
What motivates consumers to manage their 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, yet only 11% of consumers say their health provider has recommended digital tools to manage their health.
Consumers look to providers for motivation
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. Consumers who have a primary care physician (PCP) who have a bad digital experience with a provider (52%) say that it ruins the entire experience with the provider compared to 42% of those without a PCP.
Consumers have lost trust
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%).
People trust providers less when tech is involved
Perhaps not surprisingly, doctors are the most trusted actors in the healthcare ecosystem—75% of consumers "moderately" or "strongly" trust medical doctors. However, nurse practitioners and physician assistants (PAs) follow close behind with 69% of consumers having trust in these providers. These percentages drop when technology is involved. Just over half (52%) trust diagnoses or treatments determined by a physician supported by an intelligent machine or artificial intelligence (AI), however, only 31% trust diagnoses or treatments determined entirely by these technologies.
Consumers remain interested in virtual care
Despite the decline in adoption of digital health technologies and waning trust, consumers remain interested in virtual health services. Younger generations even prefer virtual over in-person care in some cases, when given the choice. And although consumers would be willing to receive virtual services from traditional care providers, they are also open to receiving virtual services from tech companies and retail brands. These numbers will likely rise as digital-savvy generations come of age.
Consumers continue to want virtual 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%).
Virtual care from a variety of sources
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%).