EY: 63 percent of patients comfortable with tech-enabled health tracking

By Jonah Comstock
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When it comes to collecting health and wellness data and sharing with physicians, more than half of patients -- and nearly three quarters of doctors -- are comfortable with the prospect, according to a survey conducted this year by EY and announced at HIMSS. The group, formerly known as Ernst & Young, surveyed 2,455 consumers, 152 physicians, and 195 health executives.

"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,” Jacques Mulder, EY's US Health Leader, said in a statement. “Both consumers and physicians are empowered by emerging technology and are hungry for better, more connected experiences. This demand paves the way for nontraditional players to make an impact on the industry, and is another indicator that health in entering an era of convergence.”

Fifty-four percent of consumers said they were comfortable ing their physician digitally, and 63 percent were comfortable using technology to track health and exercise. Thirty-three percent would use smartphone-connected devices to send information to their doctor, 36 percent would use an at-home diagnostic test kit, and just 21 percent said they'd do video consults with a doctor.

Sixty percent were comfortable sharing health or exercise information with a doctor, 54 percent would share grocery information, and 74 percent would share lifestyle information "if it would help physicians treat them more comprehensively."

That's not the only motivator that would convince patients to share data. Sixty-one percent named reduced wait times as a motivator for data sharing and 55 percent named cost savings. However, just 26 percent said that the possibility of a tailored diet plan would encourage data sharing.

Physicians were fairly bullish on the usefulness of that data: 71 percent said personal sensor data would improve population health and 64 percent believed it would decrease the workload for doctors and nurses. Eighty-three percent believe patient-generated data from apps and sensors could support coordination across different providers and enable personalized health plans. Two thirds of physicians predict that the ultimate effect of digital technology will reduce burden on the health care system and associated costs. 

In addition to consumer-focused research, EY also came out with looking at the bigger picture of the healthcare industry and business trends around new technology. Notably, the report included an analysis of health-related patents from major tech companies including Alphabet, which led the pack with 17 health patents in 2017, Apple, which had 12, and Microsoft, which had nine.

They also categorized partnerships in the space over the last four years and found that diabetes stood out as the most focused-on as the subject of 25 tech platform deals. Respiratory was second with 13 deals, and oncology and mental health tied for third with 10 deals each.

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