Report: Consumers turn to Internet for majority of health info

Most consumers turn to the Internet for health information, strongly feel that they should be in control of their data and personally are purchasing wearable devices to track their fitness.

Those are just some of the findings in Rock Health's first survey examining consumer adoption of digital health tools. More than 4,000 individuals were surveyed who had Internet access at home, work or through a mobile phone.

One surprising finding, according to authors, is that the biggest adoption of such tools is not dependent upon demographics or health of consumers, but rather their attitudes toward healthcare. Those who feel a responsibility about their health, are willing to pay out-of-pocket for devices and are good at self-management are the highest adopters, the report determined

Some of the reports' other findings included:

  • Health websites like WebMD are the most used digital health tools (71 percent), followed by online health reviews (50 percent) and mobile health (17 percent).
  • Adoption remains an uphill battle. Almost half of respondents only adopted one digital health tool or none at all (20 percent).
  • While 17 percent use mobile health trackers, the majority still rely on paper or their heads to keep track of information. For example, 12 percent track weight on paper, 35 percent in their heads and only 8 percent using an app.
  • When it comes to telemedicine, many still prefer to take part in the services over the phone. However, respondents who had previously used video telemedicine were more likely to rank it higher.
  • Eighty percent said they agree or strongly agree with sharing health data to receive better care
  • Consumers were largely willing to share data with a physician (81 percent), but less so when it comes to the government (14 percent), biopharma companies (20 percent) and tech companies (12 percent)

The number of tools that consumers can use to track and manage their health will only rise as the market continues to see record growth. Digital health funding for the first three quarters of 2015 has outpaced that raised during the same time period in 2014, which was a record year for investments, according to a previous Rock Health report.

In addition, as the survey shows, healthcare is going to need to increase its focus on digital consumer-facing conveniences. The industry is 10 to 15 years behind the times when it comes to technology, Tampa General Hospital's Chief Information Officer Scott Arnold previously told FierceHealthIT, and must provide the conveniences people already get from other industries.

To learn more:
- check out the survey