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April 6, 2020
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David Burda
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A Digital Health Distraction

We’re going to take a short mental break this week from COVID-19 and write about something else. We’re going to talk about Accenture’s latest survey of consumers on their digital health and what the survey findings may mean for your healthcare organization. Accenture conducted the survey last November and December and released the results on March 9. 

(In between is when the incompetent and self-interested Trump administration botched any chance of limiting the spread of COVID-19 here, so the results may not reflect how people feel right now. Well, at least you know how I feel.)

The results are based on a survey of 7,804 consumers age 18 or older in seven countries, including 2,302 respondents in the U.S. You can download the Accenture 2020 Digital Health Consumer Survey here.   

In a nutshell, consumers’ use, trust and experience with digital health tools are waning.  Let’s look at the numbers: 

  • 35 percent of the respondents said they are using apps on their phones or tablets this year to manage their health, down from 48 percent in 2018 when Accenture conducted a similar survey
  • 18 percent of the respondents said they are using wearable technologies this year to manage their health, down from 33 percent in 2018

Asked what keeps them from using digital health tools to answer their questions about their health or medical care, their top concern was the privacy and security of their personal health information:

  • 41 percent said “concerns about my privacy or data security” 
  • 22 percent said they “don’t trust the effectiveness of the service”
  • 16 percent said they prefer their current, presumably in-person, providers

That said, a patient’s digital experience with a healthcare provider is becoming more important and certainly a competitive differentiator in the market. For example:

  • 50 percent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “A bad digital experience with a healthcare provider ruins the entire experience with that provider.”
  • 39 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “A good digital experience has a major influence on my experience with a healthcare provider.”
  • 26 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “I would switch to a new healthcare provider for high-quality digital services.”

What the results should say to you is that your patients (read customers) expect the same digital experience they have when they’re customers in any other industry. They want the technology to work. They want the technology to be easy to use. They want the technology to be effective. And they want their private information secure. If they don’t get those things from you, they’ll go to someone else for their care.

Patients are your customers. 

To learn more on this topic, please read “Digital Health Divergenceon 4sighthealth.com.

Thanks for reading. 

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay alive.

About the Author

David Burda

David Burda began covering healthcare in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since. Dave writes this monthly column “Burda on Healthcare,” contributes weekly blog posts, manages our weekly newsletter 4sight Friday, and hosts our weekly Roundup podcast. Dave believes that healthcare is a business like any other business, and customers — patients — are king. If you do what’s right for patients, good business results will follow.

Dave’s personnel experiences with the healthcare system both as a patient and family caregiver have shaped his point of view. It’s also been shaped by covering the industry for 40 years as a reporter and editor. He worked at Modern Healthcare for 25 years, the last 11 as editor.

Prior to Modern Healthcare, he did stints at the American Medical Record Association (now AHIMA) and the American Hospital Association. After Modern Healthcare, he wrote a monthly column for Twin Cities Business explaining healthcare trends to a business audience, and he developed and executed content marketing plans for leading healthcare corporations as the editorial director for healthcare strategies at MSP Communications.

When he’s not reading and writing about healthcare, Dave spends his time riding the trails of DuPage County, IL, on his bike, tending his vegetable garden and daydreaming about being a lobster fisherman in Maine. He lives in Wheaton, IL, with his lovely wife of 40 years and his three children, none of whom want to be journalists or lobster fishermen.

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