In brief

In brief

  • The Accenture 2020 Digital Health Consumer Survey reveals that the rapid rise of digital health shows signs of stalling.
  • Despite the current decline in digital adoption, people are interested in virtual services—these numbers may rise as digital-savvy generations age.
  • Security and privacy concerns have grown, especially toward technology companies entering the health market.
  • Providers play a key role in future digital adoption as they can embrace digital health services and encourage consumers to use them.


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.

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

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

55%

of consumers say "trusted healthcare professionals" would motivate them to take an 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. 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.

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

Copyright © 2020 Accenture

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%).

Medical doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are the most trusted in the healthcare ecosystem by consumers.

Copyright © 2020 Accenture

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%).

52%

of consumers would choose virtual for routine appointments.

44%

of consumers are open to using virtual care 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 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%).

The healthcare ecosystem can reconnect with consumers through better service design, digital integration into care models and by building trust.

Kaveh Safavi

Senior Managing Director – Global Health


Brian Kalis

Managing Director – Accenture

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