59% of digital health users have chronic condition, only 7% use management tool

dad-cardio-apple-watchFifty-nine percent of consumers who use digital health apps and tools suffer from a chronic condition, according to a March HealthMine survey of 500 insured consumers. Fifty-two percent of these individuals are enrolled in a wellness program and 33% received their health device/app from their wellness program.

by Jasmine Pennic, HIT Consultant March 28, 2016

However, only 7% of these individuals are using a disease management tool. The survey reveals that consumers use of health applications and devices has doubled in the past two years, but the right digital health tools are not necessarily getting into the hands of those who need them most.

Tablet apps can help patients manage their own long-term condition. Nuffield Dept. of Primary Health Sciences, University of Oxford.

Tablet apps can help patients manage their own long-term condition. Nuffield Dept. of Primary Health Sciences, University of Oxford.

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Chronic Disease
Survey respondents suffered from a range of chronic conditions, with mental illness, chronic pain and obesity among the most common:

Chronic Condition Percent
Mental illness (depression, anxiety, etc.) 18%
Chronic back, shoulder and/or neck pain 18%
Obesity 18%
Oral Health (cavities, gum disease) 14%
Heart disease/hypertension/high blood pressure 13%
Diabetes or pre-diabetes 12%
Autoimmune disease (Arthritis, lupus, IBD, MS, Crohn’s, etc.) 9%
Pulmonary disease (Asthma, COPD, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, etc.) 7%
Eye disorder (macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, etc.) 6%
Eating disorder 6%
Osteoporosis 5%
Cancer (prostate, colon, breast, ovarian, etc.) 3%
Alzheimer’s/dementia 1%
Other 5%
No, I do not have a chronic condition 41%

Respondents also utilized a variety of digital health apps and tools, with activity trackers and nutrition apps among the most popular:

Digital Health Tool Percent
Fitness/exercise/pedometer app 50%
Food/nutrition app 46%
Weight loss app 39%
Wearable activity tracker (Fitbit, Jawbone, Apple Watch, etc.) 38%
Heart rate app 30%
Pharmacy app 28%
Patient portal 22%
Sleep app 22%
Blood pressure app 19%
Smart/wireless scale 25%
Stress app 15%
Symptoms navigator 14%
Medication tracker 14%
Mood/emotional well-being app 14%
Price comparison app for prescription drugs 11%
Price comparison app for medical/provider services 10%
Blood glucose monitor 9%
Internet connected thermometer 8%
Disease management app 7%
Smoking cessation app 6%
Telemedicine app 5%
Other 1%

More than half (52%) of these individuals are enrolled in a wellness program and two thirds (66%) say their program offers incentives for using digital health tools. But when asked: “What is the biggest motivator to use these technology tools?” The number one answer (42%) was “knowledge of my numbers”. Only 10% of consumers say that incentives are their biggest motivators to use digital health.

Biggest Motivator To Use Digital Health Tools Percent
Knowledge–I know my numbers 42%
Improving my health–It helps me manage my condition/reach my health goals 26%
Accountability–I know someone is tracking the results 19%
Incentive–I know I can earn a reward for using it 10%
Nothing—I am not really motivated to use it 3%

However, when asked if incentives motivated users to use their digital health tools more frequently, 91% said yes.

Bryce Williams, CEO and President of HealthMine said, “The use of digital health in wellness is growing, but it’s not necessarily being personalized to the individual level.” He continued, “Wearable activity trackers are just one tool in the box, and plan sponsors should customize both digital health technology and program incentives to meet the unique needs of each member.”

Source HIT Consultant

Also see
Things are looking app – Mobile health apps are becoming more capable and potentially rather useful in The Economist
Personal Health Record Use in the United States: Forecasting Future Adoption Levels in Journal of Medical Internet Research

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