Survey: More consumers are using digital health tools

Healthcare apps
Digital tools--like mHealth apps and telemedicine--are becoming more widely used among consumers.

Whether its mobile apps, wearable devices or virtual visits, far more consumers are using digital tools to manage their healthcare needs.

More than half of consumers have used three or more digital health tools ranging from telehealth to mHealth apps in 2016, up from just 19% the previous year, according to a survey published by Rock Health.

A growing number of consumers have requested copies of their digital medical record, and 77% of respondents said they are interested in sharing that information in order to receive better care despite concerns about privacy and security. Recently, HHS' Office for Civil Rights said it plans to release additional guidance on the rights of patients to access their health information.

RELATED: HHS OCR anticipates additional guidance on patients' rights to access health data

Here are several other key findings from the survey:

  • Although patients are open to sharing their health data to improve their care, they are also extremely protective of that data. Nearly 87% of respondents said they should control who has access to their records and 86% said they should be told what data is being collected.
  • Physicians are the most trusted group when it comes to keeping health data private and aligning with consumers’ health interests. The government and technology companies rank at the bottom in both categories.
  • Seniors lag behind when it comes to adopting digital tools. The majority of adults 55 and older distrust technology companies to keep their data secure, and very few Baby Boomer had used telemedicine or downloaded a mHealth app in the past year, echoing concerns that digital health tools are not reaching elderly patients that could see the largest benefit.  
  • Of the consumers that downloaded a health app, nearly one-third did so based on their doctor’s recommendation. American Medical Association CEO James Madara recently urged physicians to get more involved in mHealth development after the organization adopted new guidance for mobile apps.   

RELATED: Most mHealth apps aren't effective for chronic conditions

  • Consumers are gravitating towards video-based telemedicine, with 22% of respondents using the service in 2016, compared to 7% the previous year. Satisfaction for video-based services outpaces other mediums, including telephone, email, and SMS. Recently, systems such as Partners Healthcare have placed more emphasis on using virtual visits to care for targeted populations.