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Future of Health survey finds patients and doctors want more digital interaction

Both consumers and physicians are eager for increased digital engagement, according to a new nationwide poll released by Ernst & Young LLP (EY) last week at HIMSS18. (HIMSS stands for Healthcare Information Management Systems Society.) More than half (54%) of consumers surveyed indicate a comfort level contacting their physician digitally, and express interest in using technology such as at-home diagnostic testing (36%), using a smart phone or connect device of information sharing (33%) and video consultation (21%).

Similarly, the report indicates widespread agreement among physicians that digital technologies and data sharing will contribute effectively to the overall well-being of the population. More than four in five (83%) physicians believe that increased consumer and patient-generated data from connected devices would benefit the overall quality of care and enable more personalized care plans. Two-thirds (66%) also indicate that increased digital technologies would reduce the burden on the health care system and its associated costs, and 64% think it would help reduce the burden on doctors and nurses and have a positive impact on the critical issue of burnout.

“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,” said Jacques Mulder, US Health Leader, Ernst & Young, LLP. “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.”

The report also indicated that creating incentives for data sharing is a critical piece of the puzzle. While only 26% of consumers are interested in sharing lifestyle information with their physician, those numbers make a big jump when you add-in incentives. Consumers said that reduced waiting times (61%) and cost savings (55%) provided the biggest incentives to increase digital engagement with their physicians. Even further, despite hesitation in sharing dietary and exercise information, 26% indicated that the ability to receive tailored diet and exercise plans would also encourage engagement with digital technology.

Despite the overall positive sentiment, generational differences are prominent among both consumers and physicians. Across all forms of tech, the survey found much lower engagement and interest from those aged 45 years and older.

Results also point to increased awareness among consumers about the level of innovation in the health sector, with 64% of consumers considering the US health industry to be innovative. To build on this, 70% of physicians are positive about the effectiveness of current technologies in use.

“What we see from these results is that consumers and physicians are ready for increased digital interaction,” said Rachel Hall, Principal and Advisory Health Digital Offering Leader, Ernst & Young LLP. “If you look at the health sector today, we see a lot of point solutions designed to address a particular aspect of health or wellness. While this is a great start, what we are missing are solutions to support health and disease management on a broader level. To find success in this landscape, we need more interoperable data that is source agnostic, the right analytic tools, and a focus on consumer-centric designs.”

This is the first in a series of surveys conducted by EY on the future of health in the US. To view more results, visit

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