Consumers Like Generating Health Data, But Are Careful of How They Share It

New research suggests that while consumers are continuing to expand their use of digital health technologies, they’re still careful about with whom they share their health data. It also exposes an unexpected trend in which younger consumers are less trusting about such sharing than older ones.

The survey, which was backed by Rock Health and Stanford Medicine, reached out to 4,000 US adults, querying them about their engagement with various forms of digital health information.

One key takeaway from the survey was that as with the previous two years, four out of five respondents used either analog or digital methods to track at least one health indicator, with the proportion of consumers using digital tools increasing.  Specifically, 42% of respondents use digital tools to track a health indicator in 2019, up from 33% two years ago.

Not only that, consumers are sharing this data, with 56% discussing it with physicians or other medical professionals this year, compared with 46% in 2017. Seventy-five percent of respondents who used digital tracking tools shared data with medical professionals, compared with 65% of those using analog tracking methods.

However, while consumers are growing more comfortable with the idea of sharing their personally-generated health data with physicians, they’re less prepared to share with a host of additional stakeholders who might be interested, including insurers, pharmacies, research organizations, tech companies, pharmaceutical companies and government.

Seventy-three percent of respondents said that they’d be willing to share their personally-generated health data with their physician, but far fewer were prepared to share with health insurance companies (52%), their pharmacy (48%), research institutions (34%), health tech companies (23%), pharmas (19%), government organizations (12%) and tech companies (10%)).

Along the way, the researchers found that there are marked generational differences when it comes to sharing data. For example, 45- to 45-year-old respondents were three times as likely to be willing to share data than 18- to 24-year-old consumers. Not only that, the gap increases dramatically with age, with consumers aged 55 to 64 eight times as likely and consumers over 65 twelve times as likely to be willing to share data with their provider.

Meanwhile, respondents who previously downloaded a health app were four times less likely to be willing to share health data with their provider, while twice as likely to be willing to share health data with technology companies. Also, respondents who use healthcare apps are almost three times less interested in being notified about data collected about them than respondents who haven’t used health apps.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

1 Comment

  • Thanks for this valuable information! I’d like to add that digital technologies are one of the key ways to improve patient health. According to the Brigham Young University survey, people are more focused on health goals setting and progress tracking due to app gamification. 94.4% of participants have noticed that mHealth increases their ability to achieve desired outcomes, while 96.7% agreed that mobile applications increase their motivation to stick to a good diet.

    The survey also revealed that 69.6% of participants understood that poor diet is extremely detrimental to their health, and 77.4% agreed that proper nutrition can prevent these negative consequences. In general, 96.4% of participants said that mobile health apps are useful for them, and 90.7% would recommend the apps to others. These facts confirm the necessity of nutrition applications for hospitals to raise the quality of their healthcare services, as well as increase patients’ awareness of diet-related risks.

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