Image source: Fitbit

Wearables and mobile apps change healthcare business models

Digital healthcare is growing rapidly, and consumers are leading the way by accessing electronic health records and using digital tools, such as wearables and apps according to Accenture’s 2016 Consumer Survey On Patient Engagement.

The survey of over 8,000 global healthcare consumers across 7 countries, shows that patients are now comfortable with health apps or wearables as part of a doctor’s orders. Nearly four in five people said they would wear health-tracking technology to track their fitness and vital signs. Of the one in five consumers who were asked by a doctor to use wearables to track their health, three-quarters have done so.

The report says that the number of people who use health apps has more than doubled in the last two years to 33% in 2016. The use of health wearables has increased from 9% to 21% during this period.

Individuals aged 18-34 are the most prevalent users of both apps (48%) and
wearables (26%). Consumers most frequently use health apps for fitness (cited by 59%), diet/nutrition (52%), symptom navigation (36%) and accessing their patient portal (28%). Medication managers were lower on the list with only 12% of patients using an app to remind them to take their prescription.

Patients have strong beliefs about who should access their data—but providers don’t always agree.  The survey said that the majority of people (90%) would not think twice about giving access to data generated by a wearable or an app to a doctor – and 40% of health app users have already done so. However, only 31% said that they would share that information with an employer.

Alongside the rise in health apps and wearables, Accenture has noted an uptick in the popularity of telehealth. The number of people who prefer a “virtual doctor appointment” rather than a face-to-face appointment, increased from 23% in 2014 to 29% in 2016. Both physicians and consumers said that a virtual visit was convenient and timely and reduced the cost of a physical appointment.

“Digital tools are empowering patients to take charge of their health and interact with the system on their own terms,” said Dr. Kaveh Safavi, Accenture’s senior managing director for the health industry.

“Healthcare providers will need to weave digital capabilities into the core of their business model so that it becomes embedded in everything they do.”


Methodology

Accenture commissioned a survey of roughly 8,000 consumers in seven countries to assess their adoption and attitudes toward digital health tools, electronic health records and their healthcare providers’ electronic capabilities. The seven countries represented were the United States (2,225 respondents), Australia (1,013), Brazil (1,006), England (1,009), Norway (800), Saudi Arabia (852) and Singapore (935). The survey was conducted by Nielsen between November 2015 and January 2016. Where relevant, the survey refers to select findings from a similar physician survey to compare doctor and consumer responses.

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