How often do consumers use digital health tools? This graph will show you

6:59 am by | 4 Comments

frequency of digital health activities in q13 graphAs the use of digital health tools continues to become common practice in people’s lives, it’s always useful to quantify that. An infographic released this week (displayed below) showed that 60 percent of households have some sort of digital health device — such as a digital scale or glucometer. Although 25 percent used digital health apps, only 27 percent used their healthcare provider or insurer’s website. That seems like a low number to me, especially when you consider the push by payers and providers to improve patient engagement on multiple levels.

Thanks to a request from Matthew Holt of Health 2.0, market research business Parks Associates did a drill down to add more context on how frequently people look up health information online and how often they used a device to track their health patterns.

The point was to add some more color beyond the original survey’s finding that 38 percent looked up health information online or through an app. That seemed a little low considering Pew Research has said that 72 percent of Internet users looked up health information in the past year. Parks decided that the actual amount is probably higher than 38 percent but was influenced by the way the question was asked.

The graph also serves as a useful reminder that the growth of digital health in everyday life is likely to be in small steps. The most frequent use of digital health tools seems to average out at three times a month. It’s encouraging that the use of apps to manage a health condition tops the list since it demonstrates the most engagement. It’s also interesting to see the frequency of telehealth interactions with healthcare professionals.


Since Parks Associates is open to requests, I’d like to see a comparison chart next year to see how 2014 numbers stack up.

I’ve included the original infographic below.



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Stephanie Baum

By Stephanie Baum

Stephanie Baum is the East Coast Innovation Reporter for She enjoys covering healthcare startups across health IT, drug development and medical devices and innovations deployed to improve medical care. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and has worked across radio, print and video. She's written for The Christian Science Monitor, Dow Jones & Co. and United Business Media.
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Great information here!  As a health industry we need to move from our focus on the quantified selfers  who already are healthy and thus are low cost patients to a focus on the at risk and i engaged, who are high cost patients.

Getting our high risk patients interested in using mobile to self manage is now the task at hand.  We can help them, we just have to show them how! They are not going to just magically do this on their own!

Sending a newly diagnosed prehypertensive or Prediabetic patient back out into the world with a "good luck"   "See you in a year" kind of treatment as we do now (standard of care in fee for service medical practice)  is insanity.  These people don't have a snowball's chance in hell of changing their behavior without our help!

Any physicians reading today who would like to learn more about how to implement digital health for the at risk for prediabetes and prehypertension, please take a look at our Physician pioneer program


Stephanie,  low usage should not be a surprise. In fact, it WILL be a surprise if much more frequent usage becomes a thing. Outside of the quantified self obsessives/narcissists/neurotics tribes, most people, most of the time, are mostly as healthy as they feel they can, or need, to be. People definitely are keen on having the ABILITY to track/monitor health related metrics should they desire to - but they're not at all in a sweat to actually DO it anything like frequently.

Somehow app coders/"entrepreneurs" have gulled score-hungry VCs into imagining that lots of use is on the horizon. That's just further proof that having money to squander doesn't guarantee you any magical analysis/forecasting powers.


Possibly some selective interpretation at play here?  75% of BBHH did not use a smart phone app, AT LEAST ONE DAY IN THE LAST YEAR??  Wow.  Think about all the things you'd have to say "Yes" to if asked that question...I used an app once last April to calculate a payment for a car I was considering leasing.  I have since deleted the app and never used it again.  Yet somewhere in the Wishful Thinking Data Universe is an analyst who would say my use of that app one time is a sign that automotive app use is, "common practice in people’s lives."  I use an app every month to pay my credit card bills.  THAT is common practice.  But use an app once in a year?  Not so much.

I don't disagree that digital health tools will continue to grow in their use, but I feel some tempered pragmatism is in order here.

Just my 2c.