Patient use of healthcare technologies on the rise

Patient use of health care technologies on the rise

Throughout all of the advances in health care technology in recent years, industry organizations and leaders have been actively trying to promote patient engagement. Involving patients in their own health care journey is critical for both awareness and positive health outcomes. The rise of online resources, mobile apps and other health care technologies has been crucial in optimizing patient engagement. And according to a report from The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions title consumer engagement is on the rise in several areas of health care technology.

Increased engagement
Deloitte's findings indicated a 9 percent increase from 2013 among respondents who utilized health care technology to exchange health records and information. Now, 22 percent of respondents are accessing and storing information via health care technology. Digital communication through video and email between doctors and consumers has doubled in the last two years and that rate is forecasted to grow. Since 2013, the use of online resources to analyze improved fitness and health goals has increased 28 percent.

Furthermore, the report found that consumers' trust in these online resources is also increasing. Slightly over 52 percent reported accessing health care technologies to find answers to medical questions and information. The use of patient portals and social media, as well as scorecards to compare health plans and hospitals, is also on the rise.

Engaged consumers
Findings from the Deloitte report indicate that some groups of consumers are more engaged than others. The highest levels of patient engagement and the biggest increase of accessing health care technologies is among consumers with chronic illnesses. There was a 13 percent increase in technology use among those with major or long-term health issues. For a group of consumers with the highest need for successful patient engagement, these numbers are encouraging. Unsurprisingly, health care technology engagement and use among millennials was high and the group showed significant gains. Demographics may also be a factor, as those with higher incomes demonstrated more engagement than those with lower incomes.

Is health care becoming a consumer-driven industry?
The extent of the health care consumer's needs are still not being met. It is quite likely that the future of the health care industry will see organizations becoming more retail-oriented, aiming to reach that market of consumers and fill that gap. Yet the gap is quite diverse and, according to the report, there may not be one inclusive way to reach the wide range of consumers.

"Health care is becoming more digitized and consumer-oriented," said Greg Scott, principal at Deloitte Consulting and vice chairman and national sector leader for the health plan's practice. "It's not an overnight change, but more like how summer turns into fall – gradual yet very perceptible."

However, some say that ideal patient engagement has nothing to do with technology. It's not about the number of online clicks or website visits, according to Kyra Bobinet, CEO of engagedIN and a consulting faculty member of the Stanford School of Medicine. The key to successful patient engagement according to Bobinet is motivation and connection on a personal level. To truly engage with a patient, one must go deeper than the digital screens and keyboards and really involve the patient emotionally.