66% of Americans want to use digital tools to manage their health

Americans are both ready and willing to leverage health apps and wearable devices to improve their personal health, according to the findings from the Fifth Annual Makovsky/Kelton “Pulse of Online Health” Survey. What’s more, consumers are ready to disclose online personal health data as long as they can trust the service provider. In fact, the report claims that consumers and physicians cannot share health information online fast enough.

“Beyond a desire to speed access to information, consumers are using technology to engage proactively in managing their health – and a personality of ‘search’ is influenced by specific medical conditions,” said Gil Bashe, executive vice president, Makovsky Health.

Mobile health platforms, in particular, represent a huge opportunity to improve health, with almost two-thirds (66%) of Americans saying that would use a mobile app to manage health-related issues. Unsurprisingly, Millennials are leading the digital health charge, as they are more than twice as likely to express interest in using a mobile app to manage their health compared to those Americans 66 and older.

Apps and wearables

Top interests when downloading and using mobile health apps reflect proactive desires for informative, functional and interactive programs: tracking diet/nutrition (47%), medication reminders (46%), tracking symptoms (45%), and tracking physical activity (44%).

63% of Americans with gastrointestinal conditions would use mobile health apps to track diet and nutrition.Most common motivators for using a mobile app vary across health conditions. More than six in 10 (63%) Americans with gastrointestinal conditions would use mobile health apps to track diet and nutrition; among obese or overweight consumers, 61% would make use of a mobile app to communicate with a doctor; half (50%) of those with pulmonary conditions would use a mobile app for medication reminders; and 52% of Americans with cardiovascular issues would use a mobile app to track sleeping patterns.

Similarly, 79% of Americans would be willing to use a wearable device to manage their health: 52% would use it to track physical activity, 45% to track symptoms, 43% to manage a personal health issue or condition, 41% to tracking sleep patterns, and 39% to track diet/nutrition.

Additionally, 88% of Americans would be willing to share their personal information for the sake of improving care and treatment options.

Turning to online sources for advice

Trust and quality sources for healthcare information are important to consumers, and people are three times more likely to look to WebMD (57%) over government-affiliated websites such as the CDC (17%) or FDA (16%).

The most popular motivators for Americans searching online for health information are condition management (58%), exploring symptoms (57%), and researching a prescribed treatment (55%).Among the 91% of Americans who would search online for health information, condition management (58%), exploring symptoms (57%), and researching a prescribed treatment (55%) are the most popular motivators. In contrast, if consumers were diagnosed with a medical condition, they would be most likely to research symptoms (41%), treatment options (26%), and specialized doctors and care facilities (18%).

Of the 80% of Americans willing to visit a pharma-sponsored website, those 66 and older were more likely to visit the site if a healthcare professional recommended it (52%). On the other hand, doctor recommendation matters less to Millennials, with 41% visiting a site based on physician suggestion. Furthermore, Millennials are also 23% more likely to be motivated by an advertisement to visit a pharma-sponsored website than those 66 and older.

When it comes to social media, Millennials are 25% more likely to trust a pharma-sponsored platform than those 66 and older (31% vs. 6%). Social media lacks authority with the general population as 79% of respondents reported they trust these channels either “a little bit” or “not at all.”

"Pulse of Online Health infographic