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Consumers and Physicians and Technology in 2015

by Clive Riddle, October 9, 2015
The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions has just released a survey report, Health Care Consumer Engagement: No One-Size-Fits-All Approach, which they say shows 'that Americans are increasing their use of technology to improve their health, navigate the health system and flex their shopping muscles in acting like consumers instead of passive patients."
Overall, how "techy" are American healthcare consumers? They found "22% used technology to access, store and transmit health records in the last year, up from 13% in 2013. Use was higher for those with major chronic conditions: 32% compared to 19% in 2013."
Deloitte’s findings are that consumer engagement is increasing three ways:
  1. "More consumers today prefer to partner with doctors instead of relying passively on them to make treatment decisions"
  2. "Consumers’ trust in the reliability of information sources is rising"
  3. Consumers are increasingly relying Relying on technology
Here's some of the numbers behind their report, regarding the oercentage of survey consumer respondents: 
  • 28% have used technology to measure fitness and health goals, up from 17% in 2013 (45% of Millennials this year)
  • 23% have used technology to monitor a health issue, versus 15% in 2013
  • 40% of the surveyed technology users have shared their fitness or monitoring information with their doctor
  • 39% with major chronic conditions use tech-based monitoring (22% in 2013)
  • 63% of the surveyed technology users say their use of fitness or monitoring technologies has led to a significant behavior change
  • 13% who take prescription drugs receive electronic alerts or reminders
  • 48% prefer to partner with doctors rather than have them make decisions for them, up from 40% in 2008
  • 34% strongly believe doctors should encourage patients to raise questions
  • 58% feel that doctors should explain treatment costs to them before decisions are made
  • 16% who received care report asking their doctor to consider treatment options other than the one initially recommended.
  • 52% report searching online for health or care-related information; 
  • 16% who needed care went online for cost information, up from 11% in 2013 (27% of Millennials this year)
  • 71% of all those surveyed said they have not gone online for cost information but are "very" or "somewhat" likely to use a pricing tool in the future
  • 25% used a scorecard to compare the performance of doctors, hospitals and/or health plans, up from 19% in 2013 (49% of millennials this year)
What do these numbers mean? Harry Greenspun, M.D.Director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, tells us "not all consumers are alike in how they engage the system, and a large segment still remains disengaged. Companies likely won't take a one-size-fits-all approach in their marketing and operations, but a tailored strategy that considers the unique characteristics of the segments they are most interested in."
Greg Scott, Principal, Vice Chairman and national sector leader for Deloitte's health plans practice, adds "the specter of a more customer-driven industry is causing many health companies to transform into retail-focused organizations, impacting everything from strategy and scale to operations and human capital. For the enterprise, this is about more than a cool app – this is about making the end-to-end changes needed to better identify and engage a more empowered purchaser."
So at the other end of the stethescope, how do doctors feel about using technology in their practices? Geneia just released survey results on this topic - not addressing physician interaction with consumers as discussed above, but rather how physicians relate to EMR, data and analytics.
Heather Lavoie, Geneia's President & Chief Operating Officer, tells us that "seemingly, there is an inverse relationship between health IT spending and physician job satisfaction,..physician sentiment towards technology is surprisingly nuanced. Doctors are indicating that data and analytics tools have the potential to reduce time spent on recordkeeping, one of their primary frustrations, while also contributing to it."
24% of physicians said that EMR impact on practices was positive, 19% negative, 53% a little of both, and 5% said they do not use EMRs. 69% of physicians felt data and analytics tools positively impacted their ability to efficiently assess patient history and needs, 63% said they help them get value and improved outcomes from chart documentation, and nearly 60% felt they helped identify and triage the highest need patients and created greater efficiencies in office workflow.
But Geneia shares that "on the other hand, more than 60% of physicians say that data and analytics tools have negatively impacted recordkeeping time. In fact, when asked to identify the number one way data and analytics could improve their job, the most popular answer was to reduce the time spent on recordkeeping (41%) followed by more time with every patient (22%), better access to patients' complete medical profile and history (20%), and more time with the patients who require enhanced care (14%)."


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