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More than half of all U.S. consumers say they are comfortable contacting their healthcare providers digitally, indicating that connected care has crossed a critical threshold of acceptance in the country.
Results of a nationwide poll conducted by Ernst & Young shows that 54 percent of American consumers age 18 and older are willing to communicate digitally with physicians, though engagement and interest dropped among Americans age 45 and older.
Specifically, the survey of nearly 2,500 consumers indicates interest in at-home diagnostic testing (36 percent), using a smartphone or other connected device for information sharing (33 percent) and video consultations, or telehealth (21 percent).
Medical professionals are even more optimistic that digital technologies and electronic data sharing will benefit healthcare consumers. More than four in five (83 percent) of physicians surveyed by Ernst & Young said they believe patient-generated data from connected devices “would benefit the overall quality of care and enable more personalized care plans.”
In addition, 66 percent of physicians said increased use of digital technologies would “reduce the burden on the healthcare system and its associated costs,” while 64 percent indicated digital health would ease the work burden on providers and reduce burnout.
"Both consumers and physicians are empowered by emerging technology and are hungry for better, more connected experiences,” Jacques Mulder, U.S. Health Leader for Ernst & Young, said in a statement. "The health sector today is ripe for disruption, and these findings reinforce the need for organizations to rethink how and where care is delivered to consumers."
Slightly more than one in four (26 percent) consumers surveyed said they are interested in digitally sharing lifestyle information with their physicians, likely indicating concerns about privacy issues. After all, who wants to run the risk that information about how much you drink, what you eat, whether (and what) you smoke, and how inactive you are can be accessed by non-authorized users?
However, the percentage of consumers willing to share data electronically rises dramatically when incentives are included.
“Consumers said that reduced waiting times (61 percent) and cost savings (55 percent) provided the biggest incentives to increase digital engagement with their physicians,” according to Ernst & Young. “Even further, despite hesitation in sharing dietary and exercise information, 26 percent indicated that the ability to receive tailored diet and exercise plans would also encourage engagement with digital technology.”