Consumers have warmed up to digital health care significantly in just two years, according to Accenture’s 2016 Consumer Survey on Patient Engagement, Patients Want A Heavy Dose Of Digital. Accenture commissioned Nielsen to conduct a seven-country survey of 7,840 consumers ages 18+ to assess their attitudes toward health, the healthcare system, electronic health records (EHRs), healthcare technology, and their healthcare providers’ electronic capabilities. The survey was conducted between November 2015 and January 2016.
In 2014, only 27 percent of U.S. consumers with electronic health records accessed those records, but by 2016 access grew to 45 percent. The most frequent reason (41 percent) for accessing their own records was to stay informed. Only 6 percent did so for help making medical decisions. Data found most helpful were lab and blood test results, medication history, and physicians’ notes. There’s a big disconnect between patients (9 out of 10) who believe they should have full access to their EHRs and physicians (less than 2 in 10). In two years, physician views on EHR access declined 42 percent while patient view increased by 10 percent.
Use of health apps doubled from 16 percent in 2014 to 33 percent in 2016 and health wearable use more than doubled from 9 percent to 21 percent in the same time period. According to the survey, both doctors and patients agree there are benefits to health apps and wearables. Overall, nearly four out of five percent of U.S. consumers either wear or would be willing to wear health-tracking technology for fitness only (15 percent), health tracking only (12 percent), or both (51 percent).
In summing the survey results, Accenture stated, “Consumers’ speed of digital adoption in the past two years is significant, illustrating that patients are leading the way in using digital tools to manage their health. Access to EHRs is increasing significantly, however, there is a gap between physician and patient expectations on the level of access to this information. There is an opportunity for physicians to increase the level of transparency and improve communications with patients. Providers that invest in digital tools and develop strategies to adapt to consumers’ expectations will close the gap between what patients demand, and what providers deliver.”