Folks seem to like digital health tools, and companies certainly like to produce them. But there’s a serious missing piece of the digital health app puzzle: Little of the data collected is put to its fullest use.
That’s what a study by HealthMine found when it quizzed both wearables users and the general public about different aspects of integrating wearable data collection into the health care system.
The big shocker came from the 42 percent of wearables users when they were asked what happened to the data their devices were gathering.
“Nothing,” they said.
Another 46 percent of wearables users said that although they gather data through some sort of mobile device, they don’t incorporate it into their personal health care.
That’s a lot of potential for health improvement, and health care spending reductions, going to waste says Bryce Williams, CEO and president of HealthMine.
“Digital Health is still crossing the chasm from lifestyle and fitness management to chronic disease and holistic health care management,” he says. “Digital analysis of health data can provide an early warning detection system for individuals and plan sponsors. Finding a person with pre-diabetes, for example, can lead to an improved outcome and lower cost for the member and the plan sponsor.”
As Williams notes, the wearables sector is in transition. There were signs from the survey that those who have a health or fitness app do use them regularly; nearly 60 percent said they check theirs at least once a day, and three-quarters check them either weekly or daily.
But because the use of wearable devices is ultimately seen as part of a larger movement of medical services from in-person to telemedicine, the results from questions about telemedicine were not encouraging.
When asked about telemedicine, 39 percent of consumers said they hadn’t even heard of it. At the same time, 93 percent of those who have experienced it say it lowers their health care spending.
But overall, telemedicine proponents still have their work cut out for them, HealthMine says.
Despite the potential benefits of telehealth when used appropriately, many Americans still prefer traditional, in-person provider visits. Forty-two percent of respondents who haven’t used telehealth say they prefer a doctor office visit. But, more than a quarter of consumers simply don’t know when it is appropriate to use telemedicine versus traditional medicine,” HealthMine reported.
Other highlights of the survey:
Most used digital health tools: fitness/exercise related;
Least used: disease management, smoking cessation and telemedicine;
Data access and sharing: 75 percent would share data with a healthcare provider, but only 32 percent say their devices are connected to their provider;
Electronic health records: 60 percent of device users have them, 22 percent use them when making medical decisions;
Positive effects: 76 percent of users say it improves their health, 57 percent say it lowered their health care spending;
Wellness programs: One-third of users got their devices through a company wellness plan, but only 7 percent of those with a chronic condition use an app for disease management.