Survey: Consumer health tech adoption remains low

Use of technology to manage healthcare still remains low for consumers, but many of them view devices and apps in a positive light, according to a new survey from consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and research practice Ipsos Public Affairs.

For instance, while seven in 10 respondents said they owned a smartphone or tablet, only two in 10 indicated that they used the devices to monitor or manage their health. The older the consumer and the greater their income, the more likely they are to use technology to keep track of their health, according to the report.

One of the reasons for low adoption of tech to manage care is security and privacy concerns, according to the report. Because of that, providers must offer secure tools to entice their patients to use them, the authors said.

In fact, because of privacy concerns, patients continue to keep information close to the vest. Nearly half of patients participating in a trial examining patient control of medical records withheld clinically sensitive information from some or all of their care team, FierceHealthIT previously reported. 

Of those who do use technology for healthcare purposes, six in 10 use it for general health reference, and about half use it for nutritional reference, the study found.

And as technology use grows, consumers will be the ones who have the greatest impact on how it is used in the healthcare industry going forward. 

Providers for the most part are in favor of apps and websites that promote health management, even if they tend to be cautious about the technology.

"With seven in 10 providers believing these tools are promising technologies to help patients better manager their health ... it seems likely that the use of Internet and mobile apps will proliferate," the authors write.

Eighty-seven percent of hospital physicians and 78 percent of non-hospital physicians use a computer or mobile device during patient visits. And more than 85 percent of providers say the apps and devices must be scrutinized carefully to ensure they provide information patients can understand.

Aside from concerns about the security of healthcare information, consumers also worry about rising costs of care, according to the report. About 86 percent of the study's participants said out-of-pocket costs were extremely important, but only a little over half were satisfied with the costs.

In addition, only one-third of consumers think healthcare in the U.S. is on the right track.

"Improving healthcare, reducing costs and doing both with expanded focus on prevention and the role of technology will continue to be among key healthcare priorities for healthcare for many years," the report's authors conclude.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)

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