We’ve been writing about wearables and digital health on Health Tech Insider since 2014. In 2015 Rock Health and the Stanford Center for Digital Health began conducting an annual Digital Health Consumer Adoption survey. From 2015 to 2019, Rock Health surveyed more than 4,000 consumers to capture their thoughts about and experiences with digital health tools. The 2020 edition of the Consumer Adoption Survey differed from previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that most people stayed home all year. The 2020 survey population also doubled in size, to a total of 7,980 respondents, all U.S. adults contacted during September and early October, 2020.

According to Rock Health, consumer adoption of digital health technologies climbed steadily each year prior to 2020. With last year’s pandemic, adoption rates grew 10%+ for live video telemedicine, wearable ownership, and digital health metric tracking. Last year digital health solutions transformed from healthcare access and delivery enhancements to necessities. You can retrieve a full copy of the Digital Health Consumer Adoption 2020 survey at no charge, but we’ve include some of the key takeaways below. All that follows comes directly from the Rock Health report.

Live video telemedicine adoption grew from 32% in 2019 to 43% in 2020, a significant 11% growth. As in prior years, telemedicine adopters were primarily high-income earners, middle-aged adults, highly educated, and people with chronic conditions. Respondents who used telemedicine reported being highly satisfied, although the authors of the report noted their satisfaction could be related in part to the absence of other care alternatives. Among people who did not use telemedicine, the majority reported they preferred in-person care

Wearables and digital tracker use rose to 43% in 2020 compared to 33% in 2019, a shift that is particularly significant because the usage rate didn’t increase from 2018 to 2019. Overall the groups most likely to use digital health tracking devices were less than 55 years old, had chronic conditions, were high-income earners, and live in urban areas. Tracker use by women grew significantly in 2020 although it is still the case that fewer women use digital health trackers than men.

Consumer data-sharing preferences did not change significantly in 2020 from previous years. Although consumers were more willing to share COVID-19 results than other health data, they generally do not trust the government or their employers with their health data.

it will be fascinating to see next year’s Digital Health Consumer Adoption Survey results. It will be interesting to learn if 2020’s rising acceptance of digital health in most measures sticks or increases during 2021, or if hoped-for pandemic’s receding will halt growth or even result in a fallback to earlier levels.