What Motivates Patients to Try New Digital Health Tools?

digital health tools

New research reveals valuable insights into the barriers that may prevent patients from adopting digital health technology.

From telemedicine to wearables to health tracking apps, new strides in digital technology represent a promising push toward a more patient-centric future. Healthcare providers are leading the way, with many employing the latest tools to offer patients better value and improved health outcomes. In fact, one survey found that over 75% of hospitals and healthcare practices worldwide are using digital health records in place of pen-and-paper records. 

Yet despite great strides in medical technology, patient adoption of new digital health tools often lags behind the pace of innovation. While doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are sharing data electronically, only 36% of patients regularly share the data collected using tools like smartwatches and wearables with their doctors. 

Patients’ hesitation to embrace new technology can be attributed to a number of factors, from barriers to access to issues with interoperability. Whatever the cause, changing the conversation around digital health tools is key to driving innovation and widespread adoption. Here’s what healthcare providers need to know about getting patients on board with the latest technology. 

Adoption of Digital Health Tools Begins with HCPs

Recent research commissioned by Philips offers insights into what drives patients to try new healthcare technology. Some of the leading findings? Patients are more likely to embrace digital health tools if their doctors recommend them, and if they feel very confident that their data will be kept secure.

Yet many HCPs are not discussing healthcare technology with their patients. As only 47% of medical professionals say they feel “knowledgeable about connected care technologies,” this may be due to a lack of familiarity. On the patient side, the number is even lower — under a quarter of patients report that they feel knowledgeable about these technologies.

That said, 35% of patients say they’d be interested in trying new technologies if they were recommended by a healthcare professional. Plus, 33% say they’d be likely to use tools that facilitate easier data sharing with their doctors. 

It’s clear that the onus is on HCPs to be the driving force behind widespread patient adoption — which means that they must first become more comfortable with the technology themselves. At the same time, healthcare technology companies should make a concerted effort to provide unparalleled data security, as 41% of survey respondents said that security is essential when it comes to trying out new digital tools.

Taking Steps Toward a More Patient-Centric Future

While adoption of digital health tools may be progressing slowly, it’s vital that HCPs and tech companies encourage patients to give new technology a try. Using this technology can streamline communication between doctor and patient, build a more complete picture of each patient’s health, and facilitate a more patient-centric future all-around. 

One way to spark conversation and get the ball rolling is through social media. On Twitter, for instance, healthcare providers and medical practices should post regularly on their own accounts, retweeting relevant posts and sharing as much original content as possible. To increase confidence in digital health tools, HCPs should promote materials discussing the safety, convenience, and security of digital health technology. 

Healthcare marketers can also make use of social media ads, which target users based on their demographics and interests. Facebook Ads, for example, could emphasize the benefits of digital tools, or simply state that a particular hospital or practice offers the latest in healthcare technology. As the ads’ viewers are already online and engaging with social media, they are more likely to be receptive to the idea of trying new digital health tools.

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