April 14, 2016, 9:41 AM

Millennials will speed up the adoption of digital healthcare

Many consumers still prefer the phone and regular doctor visits versus using the web to manage their healthcare, but a new report from Salesforce.com says millennials will push digital healthcare more into the mainstream.

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Despite the rise of digital healthcare and the proliferation of consumers with smartphones and tablets, many consumers still aren’t using the web to manage their healthcare, according to a new study from Salesforce.com Inc. But as young adults age 18 to 34, the generation also referred to as millennials, use the healthcare system more, using mobile devices and digital healthcare tools will become more mainstream, according to the survey.

The survey of 1,700 consumers from Salesforce.com, a provider of customer relationship management and other business software applications running on the Internet, finds that most patients—92%—are satisfied with their primary care physician while 43% have changed doctors in the last 10 years. Most patients—92%—also are satisfied with using the present healthcare delivery system to schedule appointments and manage doctor bills, 90% trust their doctor, 88% are satisfied with managing bills from their insurance company and 82% are satisfied with finding a doctor.

But only a minority of patients use the web to perform tasks such as scheduling a doctor visit or tracking their healthcare data online, with most still to use the phone or a visit in person with a healthcare professional. Only 14% of consumers use the web or a mobile device to make a doctor’s appointment compared with 76% that make the appointment over the phone and 25% in person. Some survey results come out to more than 100% because some respondents use multiple ways to manage their health affairs, says Salesforce.com.

Most patients—62%—also rely on their doctor to keep track of their medical records, compared with 36% that make use of electronic health records and 9% that think no individual or organization tracks their health data. 40% of patients rely on an office visit to review health data with a primary care physician while 31% use the web to access electronic medical records or connect to health information portals and 10% make a phone call.

“The report found that Americans primarily use antiquated methods to communicate with their doctors and manage their health,” the Salesforce.com survey says. “This lack of modern technology could at least partly be responsible for challenges around preventative care in America, as 40% of respondents said they receive no ongoing care recommendations from their physician.”

Only 20% of patients use the web to access test results and only 13% of consumers pay medical bills online, according to the survey. For reminders about an upcoming doctor visit or refilling a prescription 48% use the phone compared with 38% online and 22% by mail.

But using the web and mobile devices to manage healthcare is a big priority for millennials. More than three-fourths of millennials, or 76%, rely on online reviews from other patients to select a doctor and 74% go online to book appointments and pay medical bills. Other survey results include: 

  • 73% of millennials are interested in their doctors using mobile devices during appointments to share information and 71% of millennials would be interested in a doctor giving them a mobile app to actively manage their well-being for preventative care, to review health records and schedule appointments.
  • 63% of millennials would be interested in proactively providing their health data from wearable devices to their doctor so they can monitor their well-being.
  • 60% of millennials are interested in using telehealth options such as video chat with a doctor to avoid a doctor visit.

“While traditional communication channels remain popular among patients, the next generation of patients want innovations for how they connect with providers and share information,” the Salesforce.com survey says. “Mobile devices and mobile apps top the list of technologies that patients would like to see included in their health experience.”


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