Newly- released research from Rock Health suggests that consumers may be making some important shifts in how they care for themselves and who they trust to include in part of their care team.
Rock Health recently announced the results of its 4th annual Digital Health Consumer Adoption survey, for which it reached out to about 4,000 US adults age 18 and over. The data addresses 2018 trends.
Broadly speaking, researchers found that consumer use of digital health tools is approaching saturation levels, with 89% of respondents reporting that they used at least one. The study write-up didn’t define whether researchers separated casual from frequent, consistent use.
After digging into the data further, the researchers noticed that not only is adoption increasing, the nature of that use is shifting.
For example, the survey found that there’s been a striking change in how consumers used wearable in recent years, from mining the data to support their exercise goals to relying on them to help manage a diagnosed medical condition.
While 44% of wearables owners said that monitoring their physical activity was their top reason for using them, making it the top reason for wearables use identified by the survey, that’s down from 54% in 2017. The survey also found that 30% used wearables to manage a diagnosis. Other reasons consumers are using wearables include to lose weight (37%) and sleep better (31%).
At the same time, the researchers noted that 39% of consumers discontinued wearables use in 2018, a larger number than those who began using one from 2017 to 2018. This suggests that wearables use isn’t serving consumers well in many cases, with 25% reporting that they stopped using one because it wasn’t helping them meet their goals.
This data makes it clear that while wearables adoption patterns may be maturing, they haven’t yet stabilized, which could have important implications for those who hope to build broader population health strategies around wearables use.
Last year also saw a shift in how consumers related to physicians and health plans. While it continues to be the case the consumers were most comfortable sharing personal health data with physicians, health plans, pharmacies and research organizations, between 2017 and 2018 these groups lost 8.8% of respondents willing to do so.
Consumers were least comfortable sharing their personal health data with technology companies, with only 11% of respondents being willing to do so. Among those prepared to trust tech companies, Google was most trusted, with 60% of respondents willing to give it with personal health data, followed by Amazon (53%), Microsoft (51%) and Apple (49%).
Also, Rock Health found that telemedicine adoption rates shot up, with 75% of consumers reporting that they were using at least one channel. That’s a significant increase from 2017, when 68% of respondents were on board. The study cites many reasons that may have played a part in this adoption growth, including $1.3 billion invested in telemedicine startups and an increasing range of reimbursement options for providers.