Survey: Consumers trust healthcare devices less than they once did
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
U.S. citizens are showing less interest in digital health solutions, wearables, and mobile health apps, stalling an interest that was previously quite high. The number of consumers without any digital health solutions to manage their health is as high as one-third.
Wearable technologies — those that collect health data — has decreased, too, from one-third (33%) in 2018 to less than 20% in 2020, according to a new surveyfrom Accenture.
Even more dramatic is that the use of mobile devices and health apps fell from a high of 48% using this technology in 2018 to the current proportion of 35% this year. Those among us who are younger fell even further. For example, mobile apps fell from 63% of people ages 18 through 34 in 2018 to 50% in 2020. Wearable use dropped from a high of 43% in 2018 to 26% in 2020, the study showed.
The fall in use is because of the consumer's fear and mistrust of the technology. Of particular concern is the threat of privacy and security of personal information and health data.
For example, when those studied were asked what would keep them from using computers or digital devices for health questions and care, 41% responded with “concerns about my privacy or data security” as the primary barrier to their use — among 64% of those surveyed.
Trust in technology companies declined significantly, likely due to the proliferation of high-profile stories about data breaches and the misuse of consumer data.
However, people do trust some organizations to keep their information safe, starting with hospitals (84%) as most trusted, despite many of these organization’s critical security flaws, followed by doctors (83%). Technology companies ranked second to last (45%) behind the government (38%).
Healthcare providers play can help build trust with their patients and devices, according to the survey. People are curious and even interested in using virtual care, health apps, and wearables more, but remain reluctant. More than half of those interviewed (55%) say the primary factor for driving them to be more active in managing their health is if a doctor worked closely with them on the transition to technology.
Just 11% of healthcare providers recommend digital tools for patient health management, the survey found.
Despite this, 62% of the people surveyed said they like the idea of virtual health and wellness advisories. Nearly 60% (57%) are willing to choose remote monitoring of ongoing health issues through at-home devices. More than half (52%) said they would select virtual health for routine appointments. Among the younger crowd, Gen Zers (41%) said they'd prefer virtual or digital experiences between themselves and a doctor or other medical professional. Thirty-three percent of millennials feel the same.
Younger respondents have more trust in Silicon Valley tech giants, too. Nearly one-third of Gen X (32%) and 43% of millennials trust tech companies for health and wellness services, compared to only 20% of baby boomers.
And Gen Z respondents are more willing to receive virtual healthcare from technology or social media companies (46% of Gen Z compared to 20% of baby boomers) and from retail brands (34% of Gen Z compared to 20% of baby boomers).
The overall survey results don't indicate that digital health has peaked or is declining, but that adoption has temporarily stalled.
That said, consumers may be forced to get more acquainted with healthcare technology as COVID-19 spreads. Telehealth is being recommended as a potential solution to keep non-emergency visits and those for routine care, for example, from overwhelming the health system.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people 60 and older are potentially at a higher risk of getting a severe case of the coronavirus. And with the AARP previously reporting that 87% of adults age 65 and older want to stay in their home as they age, there is significant potential for the rise of telehealth.
Telehealth is the use of technology — like smartphones, computers, and remote patient monitoring tools — to enable remote communication and consultation between doctors and patients.
And with an increasing number of businesses and companies moving to in-home work amid the coronavirus, virtual health consultations may gain traction.
Some companies are providing online help to people who believe they may have coronavirus symptoms. Ro, a telehealth company, launched a free online assessment for people who think they've COVID-19 symptoms. The company can recommend tips for care and self-quarantine. If one of Ro's doctors believes a patient is at risk for coronavirus, it will contact the state's health department and help coordinate follow-up care.
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