Healthcare IT Today Survey: Consumerism And Use Of Patient-Generated Data Are Lasting Trends

Consumerism and the use of patient-generated data are no fads, but rather a lasting change to the healthcare landscape, according to a new survey conducted by Healthcare IT Today of our readers.

According to the survey, perhaps the most-transformative trend emerging from healthcare consumerism was the use of consumer-facing health apps, which nearly half of respondents saw as a major force and nearly as many rated as very transformative.

Other hot areas identified by the survey include patient-driven insights and design, patient secure texting, price transparency and online self-scheduling. Only high-deductible plans got mixed reviews, with the highest number of votes falling into the “moderately transformative” range.

When asked whether consumerism and the use of patient-generated data were here for the long term, almost all of the respondents said that it was, a rare show of unanimity the demonstrates how strongly these concepts have worked their way into the industry mainstream.

Not all respondents felt that these forces were poised to make an immediate impact. “The impact of transparency may be overstated as a majority of healthcare is not elective and therefore is less likely to be impacted by consumerism,” one respondent wrote. “[Also], the explosion of health apps has the potential to radically slow provider uptake if they show little ability to change behavior or improve health.”

Most, however, see consumerism and the use of patient-facing tools as a permanent feature of the evolving healthcare landscape. “Today’s younger people select many things that they spend their money on by looking online and comparing comments,” another respondent wrote. “Healthcare, like any other item, has become a commodity.”

To succeed, providers will do more than just differentiating themselves by appealing to consumer trends, another respondent noted. “As smart devices expand their capabilities and consumers become more educated about how to manage their health, they will be empowered to do so,” the respondent said. “These devices will allow consumers to partner with providers in ways that keep them engaged at a much lower cost of care.”

When respondents were questioned about the level of interest consumerism in healthcare should get, 60% reported that it was a key shift and deserved more attention, and 34% said that it was getting the right amount of attention, with only a small remainder suggesting that consumerism deserved less attention, got too much attention or wasn’t an important trend overall and didn’t deserve attention.

Meanwhile, when asked what they saw as the biggest barriers to clinicians accepting patient-generated healthcare data, key problems included a lack of interoperability and/or access to data (28% ) and lack of reimbursement for analyzing such data (28%). Other concerns included minimal clinical evidence of patient data’s value (17%) and potential liability (15%), with the remaining respondents choosing “other.”

When asked, in turn, what they saw as the biggest challenges or misconceptions regarding patient-generated data, many respondents pointed to potential problems with its reliability and validity.  As one respondent noted, there’s at least one major Catch-22 that emerges when addressing these issues. “For the data to be truly valuable it needs to be updated in real-time by each new provider or caregiver (including the patient),” they wrote. “However, by making the data so fluid, it is almost impossible to verify the accuracy of the data.”

Other issues raised by the respondents include managing the data in a manner accessible to clinicians, overcoming interoperability challenges and problems with integrating these devices with EHRs and problems with maintaining the security and privacy of such data.

Note: For reference, you can find the full list of healthcare consumerism survey questions from this survey. The survey respondents came from Healthcare IT Today’s email newsletter and social media.

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.