New technologies seen as key to physician, patient engagement

June 7, 2019
Todd Shryock
Todd Shryock

Todd Shryock, contributing author

A survey of 2,428 U.S. consumers and 158 physicians conducted by consulting firm EY found that both groups want to embrace new technology that improve engagement.

A survey of 2,428 U.S. consumers and 158 physicians conducted by consulting firm EY found that both groups want to embrace new technology that improve engagement.

Most physicians surveyed (68 percent) believe they are prepared to provide quality care in the midst of a changing industry, which includes increasing competition from retail outlets such as CVS. The drug store chain recently announced a new focus on chronic disease management, offering services like blood draws and sleep apnea assessments.

"It's clear from our survey that U.S. consumers and physicians value convenience and aren't engaging with the piecemeal technology that has been implemented across the health ecosystem," Carole Faig, EY U.S. Health Leader, said in a news release. "What's needed is a truly integrated consumer experience."

According to the survey, many physicians are using some health technologies, such as secure messaging (62 percent), patient portals (60 percent), and clinical decision support (44 percent).

Consumers are interested in technologies that help them manage their health and engage with physicians. Most consumers (68 percent) want to make an appointment online, and 54 percent would like to communicate electronically with their doctor. Asked whether they currently use these technologies, 31 percent indicated they make appointments online, 26 percent complete registration online, and 30 percent pay for healthcare expenses online. This disconnect between the desire for particular forms of engagement and actual use indicates that consumers are keen to be supported by the tools that provide a convenient, holistic experience, according to EY.

When asked about the overall performance of the U.S. healthcare system, consumers are generally divided. Thirty-nine percent view the overall performance as positive, while 41 percent view the performance as poor. Results also show younger generations (49 percent) are more critical toward their health and the health system than older consumers (28 percent).

According to Faig, the difference is likely driven by perceived affordability issues within the system. This is supported by the survey data: the cost of premiums ranks as the single most important factor when selecting an insurance plan (40 percent) for U.S. consumers.

Privacy and data sharing are concerns, but consumers are increasingly open to sharing their medical data with physicians (82 percent). Many view health-related technology as attractive solutions for improving health and wellness (42 percent) and accessibility to comprehensive, individual health information (39 percent). While consumers are generally open about sharing data with physicians, they are more hesitant about sharing information with payers (44 percent), employers (18 percent), and online retailers (10 percent).