Tech adoption lags across the healthcare spectrum

Less than 30% of physicians have recommended health and wellness apps or wearable devices.
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health data tech
Ross Tucker

Executive Editor, New York, US

While nearly half of American consumers queried said they held a positive view of healthtech such as fitness trackers or mobile apps that help monitor health, almost 60% were not familiar with some of the more common devices including web-connected glucose monitoring systems or web-connected blood pressure monitors.

Those are some of the findings from a comprehensive look at the state of healthtech conducted across the United States by Kantar and presented today at the Digital Health Summit, held in conjunction with CES 2019.

The study, which culled data from a variety of Kantar consumer and physician surveys conducted throughout 2017 and 2018, also documented how low levels of physician recommendations of such apps and devices are contributing to slow adoption.

According to Kantar, less than 30% of physicians queried said they had recommended general health and wellness apps or wearable devices, or medical web-connected monitoring or measurement devices.

“Healthcare is clearly evolving toward a greater focus on the health consumer and these devices will be front and center for that movement,” says Lynnette Cooke, Global CEO, Kantar Health. “Proper utilization of healthtech can improve health outcomes by way of prevention, helping to improve quality of life and through prolonging of life expectancy. If we achieve those outcomes, the need for medical care and the associated costs come down and everyone in the healthcare ecosystem benefits.”

Key findings from the study include:

  • The top health related apps among app users were trackers for exercise or fitness, used by 64% of respondents, followed by calorie counter or diet tracker apps at 33%, sleep trackers at 23% and then nutrition or health recipe apps at 21%
  • The main use of wearable devices was for tracking steps taken during a day (by 83% of respondents) followed by wearables for tracking fitness goals at 58%, apps for tracking calories burned during exercise at 56%, devices for monitoring heart rate at 52%, and then apps for monitoring sleep, monitoring pulse and lastly apps for monitoring blood pressure
  • Less than 9% of patients with diabetes and only 4% of those with a heart conditions are using web connected devices for chronic disease management
  • Patients generally have a positive view of health related apps and wearables, with nearly 45% agreeing that a web connected fitness tracker would make it easier for them to track their diet and exercise; 40% saying they would be willing to use a mobile app offered by their insurance plan and 47% saying they would be willing to use a mobile app recommended by their doctor. However, 66% of those queried said they were not familiar with web-connected blood pressure monitors
  • Almost 60% of physicians queried said they have not recommended general health & wellness apps or wearable devices to patients, with nearly a quarter saying they would not
  • Some 70% of physicians responding said they had not recommended a medical webconnected monitoring or measurement device, with just over 20% saying they would not

“The research shows there is a tremendous opportunity for healthtech waiting to be unlocked and with it the potential to revolutionize patient care,” says Jennifer Carrea, Kantar Profile's divison Chief Executive Officer, Americas and Global Health. “Undoubtedly what is needed is more effective patient and physician education, the application of promotions to dramatize use cases and greater integration of such devices into treatment plans.”