5 Myths About Consumer Use of Digital Healthcare Services

A recent international survey by the McKinsey & Company consulting firm addresses some myths about consumer use of digital healthcare services.

Myth 1: People don’t want to use digital services for healthcare Myth 1: People don’t want to use digital services for healthcare

Many healthcare executives believe that, due to the sensitive nature of medical care, patients don’t want to use digital services except in a few specific situations. Decision makers often cite relatively low usage of digital healthcare services. Results of our survey reveal something quite different. The reason patients are slow to adopt digital healthcare is primarily because existing services don’t meet their needs or are of poor quality. Across all the countries in our survey, more than 75 percent of respondents would like to use digital healthcare services, as long as those services meet their needs and provide the level of quality they expect.

Myth 2: Only young people want to use digital services Myth 2: Only young people want to use digital services

Our survey shows that patients from all age groups are more than willing to use digital services for healthcare. In fact, patients over 50 want digital healthcare services nearly as much as their younger counterparts. There is a difference between the kinds of digital channels older and younger patients want to use. Older patients prefer traditional digital channels such as websites and e-mail, while younger patients are, unsurprisingly, more open to newer channels such as social media. Younger patients, of course, want access to health-promotion and prevention services, whereas older patients need information about services for acute and chronic conditions. But both groups seek information at the same rates.

Myth 3: Mobile health is the game changer Myth 3: Mobile health is the game changer

Mobile health is often hailed as the future of digital services in healthcare. Still, our survey shows that demand for mobile healthcare is not universal. It is therefore not the single critical factor in the future of healthcare digitization. There is certainly demand for mobile healthcare applications, and it is strongest among younger people. Health systems should create mobile solutions that target this audience--for example, apps that focus on prenatal health or those that could be classified as lifestyle apps. Beware of solutions that could have a lot of impact but are not of interest to the segment in question--digital applications to manage chronic conditions typically found in older people, for example.

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Myth 4: Patients want innovative features and apps Myth 4: Patients want innovative features and apps

Health systems, payers, and providers often think they need to be innovative when designing their digital-service offerings. But the core features patients expect from their health system are surprisingly mundane: efficiency, better access to information, integration with other channels, and the availability of a real person if necessary. Highly innovative services, better apps, and more social media are far less important to most patients.

Myth 5: A comprehensive platform of service offerings is a prerequisite for creating value Myth 5: A comprehensive platform of service offerings is a prerequisite for creating value

When going digital, many institutions--not only those in healthcare--think it is necessary to “go big” with a platform of offerings along the entire spectrum of services. It can be smarter to start small and act fast. Across the globe, most people want the same thing. In Germany, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, for example--different countries with different health systems--patients most often cite “finding and scheduling physician appointments” as the service with which they need assistance. Other commonly cited needs include help selecting the right specialist and support for repetitive administrative tasks such as prescription refills. What most of these services have in common is that they do not require massive IT investments to get started.

A recent international survey by the McKinsey & Company consulting firm addresses some myths about consumer use of digital healthcare services.

 

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