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How Technology Brings Both Convenience and Confusion: Results of the Connected Health Survey

Sometimes, it feels like we are surrounded by technology. Apps, devices, trackers, and gadgets are everywhere! In this digital age, though, everyone has a different level of comfort using technology, and many have concerns about privacy and cost. To better understand how our community members use and feel about technology, we conducted the Connected Health Survey. More than 2,300 people shared how they use (or do not use) technology to learn about and manage chronic health conditions.

8 in 10 use a least 1 device

Devices are all around us. In fact, when asked about their current technology use, 81 percent of our survey takers told us that they use at least 1 device to manage their health. They use devices to manage various aspects of their wellness, including:

  • Diet and nutrition – 23 percent
  • Sleep – 19 percent
  • Mental/emotional health – 18 percent

When it comes to asking “Dr. Google,” many rely on search/Internet to learn about or manage their health. In fact, 41 percent of respondents use search/Internet a few times per week, and 31 percent use search/Internet every day.

There is an app for that!

Among those who use technology to learn about and manage their health, apps are another common tool. Whether it is through a smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch, survey respondents use an average of 2 apps to manage their health. Plus, 37 percent use 3 or more apps!

Do apps actually help?! While 26 percent of app users said they review their health data in an app to ensure they are meeting their goals, only 21 percent feel apps have helped them to make long-lasting habits. Similarly, 27 percent of app users agreed that they may try an app and stop using it within a month, and 35 percent of all survey respondents said it can be overwhelming to understand which health and wellness apps might help them.* So, while there are many health apps out there, these platforms can be confusing and may or may not make it easier to manage one’s health.

3 in 4 have used a patient portal

Many healthcare providers offer online patient portals – and many of us are using them. In fact, 3 in 4 survey respondents said they have used an online patient portal, most often for viewing health information such as test results and visit notes. When asked about their portal experiences, 62 percent of survey respondents said they find the portal easy to use, but only 56 percent said portals provide reliable communication with their healthcare provider. Many of us still prefer to just call or visit the doctor.

How can technology improve?

Even in the digital age, we know that devices and apps have their limitations. While many of us have used at least 1 device to manage our health and wellness, technology is not without its challenges or concerns. In fact, fewer than 1 in 4 agree that devices and apps help them more effectively manage their health.* To understand how health technology could be better, we asked survey respondents to share their suggestions.
*Top 2 box on 7-point scale

If all doctors used the same technology

“It would help if there was a common platform for all of my providers.”
“If all health providers used the same software.... I work with 3 different doctors, all different!”

Direct communication with doctors

“The ability to talk about my doctor directly.”
“Real-time interaction!!”

How-tos, step-by-step instructions, and tech support

“Better instructions for using apps.”
“Instructions for beginners.”
“A video of how to use all aspects.”

Affordable options

“Affordability of the technology. I cannot afford the good products.”
“Low cost products and technology.”

Easier-to-use options and better terminology

“I need something that’s idiot-proof!”
“Apps should include lots of definitions of medical terms and description of medication options!”
“Easier apps!”
“One app that could track everything.”

As mobile health and telehealth continue to grow, we hope these technologies can also evolve to meet the needs of people living with chronic health conditions. A special thanks to everyone who took the Connected Health Survey – we hope this information was interesting to you too!

The 2020 Connected Health survey was conducted online from July 30, 2020 through November 10, 2020. The survey was completed by 2,309 people, all of whom are living with at least 1 chronic health condition.

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