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Digital Health Survey 2019

A call for greater transparency in digital healthcare

Methodology

Our second annual report on consumer attitudes toward digital health surveyed over 500 adults in the UK. The questions were designed to analyse a number of key themes and assess how opinions have changed over the last 12 months. These themes included:

  • What is the adoption of smartphones and/or wearables across the country and what are these used for?
  • What are the attitudes towards the privacy of health data and how do these vary across different age groups?
  • What are the attitudes towards machine learning (AI) to improve quality of healthcare and how do these vary with age?

Executive study

The results of the survey unveiled two clear stories:

  1. Technology & long-term conditions

    Those with long-term conditions are willing and able to use technology to track their health, which is only set to increase.

    Wearables & long-term conditions

    We discovered a clear correlation between those that own wearables and have long-term conditions. 35-54 year olds are most likely to own a wearable, such as a smartwatch, and have more long-term conditions than any other age group. While this may imply they are using the devices to monitor their health, our data confirms this to be the case. 45-54 year olds are most likely (28%) to use their wearables to manage an existing health condition, while 35-44 year olds are most likely (26%) to use their device to understand their personal health.

    35-54 year olds also use wearables to monitor their weight more than any other demographic, as well as heart rate and blood pressure – all key health metrics. This shows that those with long-term conditions are not only able, but willing to track and monitor their own health through the use of technology.

    Tracking via wearables

    This is only set to increase in the next twelve months, as respondents stated a growing desire to track most metrics. Tracking of blood pressure is set to rise the most by 73%, while monitoring of weight is due to increase by 46%. Tracking of heart rate via wearables is also predicted to rise over the next year by 18%. In fact, the only metric that is not predicted to rise is sleep tracking.

  2. Trust in healthcare professionals

    Trust in healthcare professionals has risen dramatically over the last year, but people want more control over their data.

    "I would share my health data with a healthcare professional to improve the quality of my care."

    The results also highlighted that trust in healthcare professionals has improved significantly since last year. Those who strongly agree they would share their health data with a professional to improve quality of care has increased dramatically by 175%, while those who agree has risen by 63%. Of those who strongly agree, 25-34 year olds are the most willing (23%), followed closely by 18-24 year olds (21%), indicating that the younger generation are more open to sharing their data. 35-44 year olds are a little more hesitant, but 22% still agree to share their data.

    These increases may be surprising given revelations this year around data privacy, as a result of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, for instance. However, there has also been a dramatic increase the number of people who believe they should be in control of who has access to their health data, which could be attributed to lessons learned from such scandals. Those who strongly agree they should be in control of their data has increased from 40% to 72%, while those who agree has gone from 24% to 26%. As such, those who disagree has fallen from 20% to 0.7% and those who strongly disagree from 5% to 0.3%.

    Who would you be comfortable sharing your health data with?

    Following this trend, trust in who individuals would be comfortable sharing their health data with has also noticeably improved since last year. In fact, every single category has shown significant improvements. GPs remain the most trusted physician with almost all respondents comfortable to share their health data with them, however surgeons have shown the greatest improvement year-on-year of 103%. This is closely followed by nurses and researchers, who have both increased by 100%. However, trust in researchers remains the lowest overall.

    "I should be told what health data has been collected about me by the NHS."

    There has also been an increase in the number of people who want to be told what health data has been collected about them, as those that strongly agree has risen by 74% over the last year. Absolutely no one strongly disagreed with this statement, which has dropped from 11% last year, and highlights a major shift in attitude for the public to understand what data is being held about them in the wake of privacy scandals.

Findings

The survey uncovered interesting results around six key areas:

  1. Weight

    Currently track weight

    Tracking of weight is most popular amongst men aged 45-54 year olds at 38%, followed by 33% of men aged 35-44 year olds. Weight tracking is highest in this age group (35-44) at 25% overall, which is in sharp contrast to last year when 18-24 years old were the group most likely to monitor their weight through technology at 9%. However, we predicted last year that the number of 35-54 year olds tracking their weight was set to rise.

    Plan to track weight

    The sharpest contrast between men and women tracking their weight can be seen in 25-34 year olds with only 11% of men tracking it compared to 33% of women. This trend continues in those who plan to track their weight in the next 12 months with only 17% of 25-34 year old men intending to, compared to 67% of women of the same age. Women over 65+ are the lowest in each category, with only 3% currently tracking their weight and 7% intending to over the next year.

  2. Heart rate

    Currently track heart rate

    Those aged 35-44 years old are most likely to use their devices to track heart rate, with 38% of men and 33% of females in this age group doing so. This is also the highest age group that still intend to track this in the coming year, however we see more females (57%) than males (48%) are looking to monitor their heart rate.

    Plan to track heart rate

    Only 16% of women aged 18-24 currently track their weight, compared to 32% of men the same age. However, this is set to equalise over the next 12 months with 29% of men and 28% of women aged 18-24 planning to track their heart rate. Similarly, only 17% of women aged 65+ are currently monitoring their heart rate themselves, compared to 26% of men the same age. This is set to increase slightly to 20% in the next year, but men aged 65+ are still more likely to track their heart rate over women at 28%.

  3. Blood pressure

    Currently track blood pressure

    Similar to last year, participants were unlikely to track blood pressure with small numbers across each age group. In fact, no men aged 25-34 years old said they currently track this, however this increases to 18% of men aged 35-44. Men are also more likely to track blood pressure over women in each age group, particularly men aged 18-24 who are twice as likely to track theirs compared to women the same age.

    Plan to track blood pressure

    The number of people tracking their blood pressure is set to increase in every category over the next year, except for 45-54 year old men with 16% currently tracking theirs and only 11% intending to do so over the next year. The most dramatic increase can be seen in women aged 45-54 with only 13% currently tracking their blood pressure set to increase to 28%.

  4. Physical activity

    Currently track physical activity

    Like last year, tracking physical activity is the most popular metric by far across all age groups. Surprisingly, middle-aged men are most likely to track physical activity at 63% of 35-44 year olds and 56% of 45-54 year olds. Women aged 65+ are least likely to track this, but 17% still do. This is even set to rise over the coming year with 20% of 65+ women intending to track physical activity.

    Plan to track physical activity

    More women than men are intending to track their physical activity over the next year. The number of women aged 25-34 years old tracking their activity is set to increase by 11% over the next 12 months, while the number of 35-44 year olds is to increase by 10%. Fewer men aged 35-44 years old intend to track their activity, falling from 63% to 55% and 45-54 year olds from 56% to 51%. However, it is set to remain the most popular metric to track.

  5. Food & water intake

    Currently track food & water intake

    Like last year, tracking of food and water intake is most popular amongst the younger generation in the UK. More women than men are likely to track this too, at 28% of 18-24 year old women compared to 13% of men, and 33% of 25-34 year old women compared to 6% of men the same age. The only age group that subvert this are over 65s with no women currently tracking this compared to 9% of men. This trend continues in those who intend to track this metric over the next 12 months with no 65+ women planning to in contrast to 13% of men the same age.

    Plan to track food & water intake

    The number of men tracking their food and water intake is set to increase over the next year, particularly 18-24 year olds increasing from 13% to 29%. Likewise, the number of women in each category (apart from 65+) tracking their food and water consumption is due to increase.

  6. Sleep

    Currently track sleep

    There is an interesting difference between those that track their sleep in the 25-34 year old category. Women in this age group are most likely (67%) to track their sleep out of all the categories, however men are least likely (11%). This doesn’t look set to change over the next 12 months. However, the number of men aged 35-55 who track their sleep is set to drop slightly from 40% to 33%.

    Plan to track sleep

    Overall, there is not set to be much increase in those tracking their sleep with modest increases in some categories and decreases like the aforementioned. Sleep tracking for both men and women over 65+ is due to decline slightly.

About Lenus

Storm ID have developed the Lenus Digital Health and Care Platform to enable new care models for patients with long-term conditions that combine remote monitoring with machine-assisted decision support.

It allows patients to securely share their own health data from apps, sensors and wearables, and choose who they want to share it with using the consent engine. This data, combined with algorithms and machine learning models, can help identify patients at risk of hospital re-admission and support community discharge.

As well as facilitating self-management of health conditions, Lenus has a number of key benefits:

  • The platform data exchange layer will help break down the rising number of data silos in the consumer health space.
  • The platform identity and consent management ensures patients are in control of their own data, but can consent to share it with trusted health professionals or organisations.
  • Adopting open standards and an API-first approach, the platform will enforce standards while supporting a wide ecosystem of digital health services developed by a range of vendors.

Find out more about the services the Lenus Digital Health and Care Platform offers and get in touch.

If you are a developer interested in connecting your existing service with us, contact us to request an API key or join the Beta.

© Lenus Health 2018 The small print