Accenture Survey Reveals Consumers’ Growing Demand for Digital Health Services

Consumers are now becoming more accepting of machines — ranging from artificial intelligence (AI) to virtual clinicians and home-based diagnostics — having a significantly greater role in their overall medical care, according to results of a survey from Accenture released at HIMSS18.

For example, one in five survey respondents (19 percent) said they have already used AI-powered healthcare services, and most said they are likely to use AI-enabled clinical services, such as home-based diagnostics (cited by 66 percent of respondents), virtual health assistants (61 percent) and virtual nurses that monitor health conditions, medications and vital signs at home (55 percent).

“Driven by experiences outside of healthcare, consumers increasingly expect to use digital technologies to control when, where and how they receive care services,” Kaveh Safavi, M.D., leader of Accenture’s health practice globally, said in a statement. “By harnessing digital technologies in this way, healthcare will increasingly tap digital technologies to empower human judgment, free up clinician time and personalize care services to put control in the patients’ hands.”

The Accenture survey included data from more than 2,300 U.S. consumers. The results also show that consumers are increasingly using a variety of digital self-service tools for managing their health. For instance, consumer use of mobile and tablet health apps has tripled over the past four years, from 16 percent in 2014 to 48 percent today. In one such example, patient portals, more than four in 10 respondents (44 percent) said they have accessed their electronic health records (EHRs) over the past year, primarily to get information on lab and blood-test results (cited by 67 percent of respondents who accessed their EHRs this past year), view physician notes regarding medical visits (55 percent) and view their prescription history (41 percent).

What’s more, the use of wearable devices by consumers has nearly quadrupled in the past four years, from just 9 percent in 2014 to 33 percent today. Roughly three-fourths of health consumers view wearables — such as those that monitor glucose, heart rate, physical activity and sleep — as beneficial to understanding their health condition (75 percent), engaging with their health (73 percent), and monitoring the health of a loved one (73 percent).

“The more accustomed healthcare consumers become to using wearables and other smart technologies, the more open they are to sharing the personal health data these tools collect,” Dr. Safavi said.

For instance, 90 percent of survey participants said they are willing to share personal data with their doctor, and 88 percent said they are willing to share personal data with a nurse or other healthcare professional. Additionally, the percentage of consumers willing to share with their insurance carrier personal data collected from their wearable devices has increased over the past year, from 63 percent in 2016 to 72 percent today. They also are more willing so share such data and with online communities or other app users — 47 percent today, compared with 38 percent in 2016. Fewer are willing to share data with their employer (38 percent) or a government agency (41 percent).