The U.S. spends $3 trillion a year — about 17 percent of our total economic activity — on healthcare according to recent reports. Among nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the average is 9 percent, roughly half the U.S. expenditure. Insurers, health care providers, government agencies, and consumers all must deal with organizational and individual impacts of prodigious healthcare cost increases. Digital health technology may offer ways to help reduce these costs. From telemedicine to online apps to wearable devices, the uptick in their acceptance and usage suggests a possible way to control costs going forward.
Rock Health‘s second annual Consumer Digital Health Survey found 50 salient points in the results of its 2016 survey. Many of the observations gain even more significance when compared to Rock Health’s 2015 survey report. The first observation pulled from the survey results is that in 2016, 43 percent of consumers are considered “active digital health adopters” by virtue of having used three or more categories of digital health tools. In 2015, that number was only 19 percent. For overall digital health adoption, only 12 percent are non-adopters, compared to 20 percent in 2015. People are reaching beyond conventional health technology applications, trying out technologies such as virtual and augmented reality for relaxation (7 percent of those surveyed), mental health (4 percent), rehabilitation (3 percent), and pain management (3 percent).
Electronic health data gets a lot of attention in the Rock Health report, which states that the majority of Americans are “interested in obtaining an electronic copy of their health record” and 20 percent have downloaded or requested a copy in the past 6 months. Privacy is a concern but more than 3 out of 4 are willing to share electronic data to receive better care from their doctors. Nearly all believe they should have ownership and control of their electronic health data (87 percent) and should be told what data is collected about them (86 percent).
There’s an abundance of data in the Rock Health report regarding telemedicine, wearables, personal health data tracking, and communications modes. The days of healthcare professionals withholding information from patients “for their own good” appear to be fading fast if not already past.