Digital health tools used to research providers, track symptoms — not to access care, survey finds

Despite the ever-increasing hype surrounding digital health interventions, the majority of these tech tools go unused by the general public, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

One portion of the survey asked respondents how often they used the internet or, specifically, a smartphone to perform 10 healthcare-related tasks, from tracking fitness to filling prescriptions to attending virtual appointments. While more than half of those surveyed reported using the internet for general health research and tracking, far fewer actually accessed healthcare services online.

Here are the proportions of the nearly 1,000 adult respondents who complete the 10 tasks online at least a few times each year, in descending order, as presented in an accompanying article from KFF President and CEO Drew Altman, PhD.

  • Research health symptoms: 70 percent
  • Track fitness, nutrition or sleep: 51 percent
  • Access medical records or lab tests: 44 percent
  • Research the quality of providers: 40 percent
  • Fill prescriptions: 39 percent
  • Manage chronic conditions: 22 percent
  • Manage healthcare spending: 21 percent
  • Manage mental health: 20 percent
  • Research the cost of services: 20 percent
  • Access video calls with providers: 10 percent

Of these, the only two tasks more likely to be performed online by those over the age of 45 than those aged 18 to 44 were filling prescriptions and accessing records and test results.

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