Health wearables and mobile apps taking off

Eden Estopace
04 Mar 2016

The number of US consumers using wearables and mobile apps to managing their health has doubled in a mere two years, an Accenture survey shows.

Specifically, the number of consumers who use mobile health apps increased from 16% in 2014 to 33% today, and the number of consumers who use health wearables increased from 9% to 21% during the same period.

The findings are part of a seven-country survey of roughly 8,000 consumers. The seven countries represented were the United States (2,225 respondents), Australia (1,013), Brazil (1,006), England (1,009), Norway (800), Saudi Arabia (852) and Singapore (935).

One in five consumers were asked by a doctor to use wearables to track their health, such as fitness or vital signs, 76% followed their physician’s recommendation. The majority of consumers (77%) and doctors (85%) alike said that using wearables helps a patient engage in their health.

Four in 10 consumers (40%) who use health apps have discussed or shared mobile app data with their doctor in the past year.

The report noted that consumers most frequently use health apps for fitness (cited by 59%), diet/nutrition (52%), symptom navigation (36%) and accessing their patient portal (28%). While the vast majority (90%) of consumers said they would be willing to share wearable or app data with medical providers, far fewer said they would be willing to share that data with their health plans (63 percent) or employers (31%).

Nearly one-third (29%) of consumers in the most-recent survey—compared with just under one-quarter (23%) in the 2014 survey – said they prefer virtual doctor appointments to face-to-face doctor appointments.

However, physicians and consumers alike believe that virtual visits provide benefits for patients, such as lower costs (58% of consumers v. 62% of doctors), convenience (52% vs 80%) and timely access to care (42% vs 49%)

“Digital tools are empowering patients to take charge of their health and interact with the system on their own terms,” said Dr Kaveh Safavi, who leads Accenture’s health practice globally. “Healthcare providers will need to weave digital capabilities into the core of their business model so that it becomes embedded in everything they do.”

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