Outlook on Digital Health Data

Digital health tools can improve consumers’ direct visibility into and control over their vital health metrics and ongoing healthcare needs.  Millions of Americans report that smartphones and apps have changed the way they manage their health and wellness.  As Americans begin to use wearable devices to track and collect their personal health data, we will see more of a willingness to share that data with healthcare providers and intermediaries.  Consequently patients’ expectations for care and care delivery are changing, and will force the healthcare industry to change.  Providers, however, are having to tackle long-standing interoperability and data access challenges.  So, while many would agree that the future of digital health data is bright, there’s much work to be done.

The 2015 Digital Impact Survey surveyed 1,000 smartphone owners over the age of 18 and found a 70% increase (over its 2013 survey) in adoption of smartphone and apps to manage health and wellness.  Meanwhile another report has been published which analyzes consumer attitudes and preferences about making care choices and decisions and provides guidance to healthcare stakeholders regarding how to communicate and engage with consumers for self-care and support.  The report shows the increased adoption of connected health devices which includes items such as blood pressure meters, connected treadmills, digital fitness trackers, and networked weight scales.  Now, a research study conducted in the fourth quarter of 2016 reported results of its findings of patient evaluations on of technology.  The study polled over 12,000 adult patients and here is just a snapshot of some of the findings:

96% of respondents said they left their physician office visit with poorly communicated or miscommunicated instructions on patient portal use.

94% of patients with fitness trackers reported that their physician informed them the practice had no capability or interest in coordinating their outcomes currently via their electronic health record (EHR).

93% expressed concerns over the security of their personal financial information being used by healthcare providers; 70% of Americans reportedly distrust health technology.

91% of respondents noted feeling slighted by their providers who would not accommodate their personal data and believe their physician practice’s EHR should store any health-related data they request.

87% of patients are unwilling to comprehensively divulge all of their medical information.

84% of patients said their trust in their provider is influenced by how the provider used health technology; 69% of patients stated they believe their current primary care physician does not demonstrate enough technology prowess for them to trust divulging all their personal information.

On the physician side of things, the study states that 94% of physicians find the volume of digital health data to be overwhelming, redundant, and unlikely to make a clinical difference.  Additionally, 85% of physicians reported that the addition of EHRs has made patient care too impersonal.

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