Physicians Increasingly Interested In Use of Patient-Generated Health Data

A new report from Stanford Medicine suggests that after years of holding it at arms’ length, physicians are becoming more comfortable with the use of patient-generated health data.

According to a survey conducted for Stanford’s 2020 Health Trends Report, which polled more than 700 physicians, residents and medical students, the industry is seeing the rise of data-driven care.

Many see the emergence of such care as more or less a given, with respondents projecting that almost a third of their duties may end up being automated by technology over the next 20 years.

To prepare, clinicians are adding new skills to their repertoire. In fact, nearly half of physician respondents and three-quarters of medical students are seeking out added training on data-oriented topics such as advanced statistics, genetic counseling, population health and coding, the report notes. Just over one-third (34%) of physicians who are getting more training are taking classes on artificial intelligence.

Researchers also found that emerging physicians have taken patient-generated data in stride. Stanford found that nearly half of respondents used a wearable health monitoring device and that among those who used such devices, a majority use the data to inform their personal healthcare decisions.

Perhaps in part due to their familiarity with the personal use of digital health tools, most students and residents (78%) and physicians (80%) said that self-reported data from a patient could be clinically valuable.

This group also saw clinical value in the use of patient wearable devices (79% of students and residents, 83% physicians) and to a lesser extent, data from consumer genetic testing reports (63% of students and residents, and 65% of physicians).

All that being said, there still remains what Stanford calls a “transformation gap” among physicians, with meaningful numbers of providers still not feeling ready for telemedicine, personalized medicine and genetic screening, the survey found.

Now, a word from your editor. Looking at these results, it seems that we’re still in a state where progressive physicians are dragging the rest forward into the digital health age. Until that gap is addressed, it seems likely that the use of many promising technologies will not reach the tipping point as quickly as one might nope.

As the report notes, classes on technologies with a sexy reputation (notably AI) are beginning to attract large-scale interest. Given the immense potential AI, in particular, has for improving care, this is hardly surprising.

What does take one aback, though, is the extent to which the adoption of other promising technologies is still moving slowly. The halting growth in physician adoption of telemedicine, in particular, is a bit surprising. Yes, it seems that hospitals are embracing telehealth technologies, but many individual providers are ambivalent at best about its use.

Still, with large numbers of emerging and established physicians embracing patient-generated data, we can at least hope that its use will help to engage patients in their care.  This alone represents the kind of progress we digital health enthusiasts still hope to see.

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.