As 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.
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.
Some analysis is required over who are the most appropriate for Digital Health tools (older, with chronic disease, less money) versus who is willing but does not need them.