Doctors – at least in Europe – have concerns about the potential for consumers to misinterpret digital health data and for digital health tools to fuel hypochondria. But failure to adopt these tools and the data they generate risks leaving doctors alienated, according to Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), which points to survey results showing consumers’ comfort using apps for self-diagnosis.
Based on a survey of 1,000 health consumers, the report shows that respondents under the age of 50 are about three times more likely to agree than disagree that they’re comfortable using apps to self-diagnose based on the symptoms they’re experiencing. The 50-64 age group also shows some comfort with this, but Americans aged 65 and up seem more willing to get an expert opinion than their own (or Google’s).
Generally speaking, research from Makovsky suggests that a strong majority (71%) of consumers would be willing to use a mobile app to manage their health. Currently, the most common health-related activities performed on smartphones – per the ADI survey – are tracking fitness goals (35%), tracking weight loss goals (33%), and refilling existing prescriptions (26%). These are broadly in line with the most popular use cases in the Makovsky survey.
The results from the ADI research suggest that mobile health consumers are happy with their experiences: a majority of those who have used their smartphone to perform various tasks say they want to do those tasks exclusively via smartphone in the future.
There’s plenty of room for growth in mobile health, though. More than 4 in 10 ADI survey respondents aged 35 and up don’t even know if their health insurance company offers its members an app for managing insurance and health-related matters. And while health information sites are seeing strong mobile traffic and are ahead of the pack in tracking customer information, both health insurers and healthcare providers lag in those areas. (See a list of the top 10 healthcare information sites here.)
Overall, there seems to be a positive outlook for emerging digital health technology, ADI reports. New products including Apple’s Carekit and Researchkit are seeing overwhelmingly positive sentiment worldwide on social media, with telehealth and virtual reality also skewing positive in social sentiment.
About the Data: The ADI social sentiment data is based on an analysis of 2.6 million social mentions relating to digital healthcare and fitness devices. Traffic data is based on analysis of 121 billion visits to 50 of the largest sites/apps each in the retail, travel, health insurance, health provider, health information, automotive, insurance and banking sectors, including 34 billion visits to health vertical sites/apps throughout 2015.