Digital Health Tech Adoption Lags Across the Healthcare Spectrum

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Digital Health Tech Adoption Lags Across the Healthcare Spectrum

Gary J. Gatyas Jr.

CMO of Kantar Health

Which technologies will fuel the future of healthcare? Will it continue to be wearables, web-connected devices, and voice activated technologies, or will machine AI, ingestibles and machine learning begin to play an even larger role?

More importantly, with increased adoption of these technologies among consumers, the relationship between patient and physician is radically evolving with empowered consumers proactively managing their health and wellness and increasingly dictating how the healthcare industry operates.

Today, nearly half of American consumers say they have a positive view of healthtech such as fitness trackers or mobile apps that help monitor health. However, almost 60% were not familiar with some of the more common devices including web-connected glucose monitoring systems or web-connected blood pressure monitors.

Those are some of the findings from a comprehensive look at the state of healthtech conducted across the United States by Kantar and presented at the Digital Health Summit, held in conjunction with CES 2019. The study, which culled data from a variety of Kantar consumer and physician surveys conducted throughout 2017 and 2018, also documented how low levels of physician recommendations of such apps and devices are contributing to slow adoption.

According to Kantar, less than 30% of physicians queried said they had recommended general health and wellness apps or wearable devices, or medical web-connected monitoring or measurement devices.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • The top health-related apps among app users were trackers for exercise or fitness, used by 64% of respondents, followed by calorie counter or diet tracker apps at 33%, sleep trackers at 23% and then nutrition or health recipe apps at 21%.
  • The main use of wearable devices was for tracking steps taken during a day (by 83% of respondents) followed by wearables for tracking fitness goals at 58%, apps for tracking calories burned during exercise at 56%, devices for monitoring heart rate at 52%, and then apps for monitoring sleep, monitoring pulse, and lastly, apps for monitoring blood pressure.
  • Less than 9% of patients with diabetes and only 4% of those with a heart conditions are using web-connected devices for chronic disease management.
  • Patients generally have a positive view of health-related apps and wearables, with nearly 45% agreeing that a web connected fitness tracker would make it easier for them to track their diet and exercise; 40% saying they would be willing to use a mobile app offered by their insurance plan and 47% saying they would be willing to use a mobile app recommended by their doctor. However, 66% of those queried said they were not familiar with web-connected blood pressure monitors.
  • Almost 60% of physicians queried said they have not recommended general health & wellness apps or wearable devices to patients, with nearly a quarter saying they would not.
  • Some 70% of physicians responding said they had not recommended a medical web-connected monitoring or measurement device, with just over 20% saying they would not.

While it’s clear that healthtech is disrupting (and will continue to disrupt) many aspects of the healthcare space, it’s critical for key healthcare stakeholders to identify barriers for wide-scale patient adoption of digital health tools and to invest in solutions for overcoming these challenges and improving user’s health-related quality-of-life.

Healthcare is quickly moving toward a greater focus on the patient, information, and holistic wellness, and these devices will be front and center for that movement. Any entities that choose to ignore these technological developments risk ending up like companies that discounted the impact of the Internet. They quickly became obsolete!

Opportunity and growth in digital health markets will always come from understanding people’s motivations, needs, and challenges, and then finding ways to improve their lives. For businesses that can rise to the challenge and successfully navigate this landscape, the payoff will be extremely rewarding.