Generational Differences in Digital Health Adoption

October 23, 2019
Tracey Walker

Over time, digital health apps are going to become commonplace as more consumers get comfortable monitoring, managing, and sharing health information.

American consumers are moving toward making mobile health applications a part of their regular routines to take care of their health, according to a new survey.

According to the online Google Consumer Survey conducted by Redox, nearly one-third of respondents said they use or are open to using mobile apps to manage chronic conditions or daily health and fitness. Results are based on responses from 1,019 American adults, ages 18 and older.

Niko Skievaski, Redox cofounder and president says digital technology is going to completely transform healthcare as we know it.

Redox, changing the way healthcare providers and software vendors share data, is a remote-first company headquartered in Madison, WI with employees in 25 states in the US. 

“We wanted to examine the adoption of digital health apps by consumers to manage chronic conditions and daily health and fitness,” Skievaski says. “This study gives a glimpse into the psyche of early adopters and would-be users of this technology.”

Redox’s survey revealed generational differences in digital health adoption-with Gen Xers, those aged 35 to 54 (using the Google survey categories), at the forefront of patients clamoring to take control and manage their health with mobile apps. 

Baby boomers are the most concerned about privacy and security, topping millennials by 54% and Gen X by 23%. Gen X selected privacy and security as a primary reason 25% more than millennials. Conversely, 42% of respondents are willing to share their information with doctors and providers-with baby boomers 13% more willing than millennials and 8% more willing than Gen Xers.

“Over time, digital health apps are going to become commonplace as more consumers get comfortable monitoring, managing, and sharing health information,” says Niko Skievaski, Redox cofounder and president. “Once they’re convinced there’s value in using apps and that their data is secure, they’ll expect healthcare organizations to offer apps that deliver benefits on important health issues, from chronic conditions to preventive healthcare.” 

Related: Sharing Patient Medical Records: Challenges and Opportunities

Privacy and security

Another important topic the survey covered centered on privacy and security.

Of the respondents not using mobile health apps, privacy and security are cited as the top reasons.

“It might not come as a surprise that baby boomers, those aged 55 and over, were the most concerned about privacy and security,” Skievaski says. “It may take some time for widespread support of mobile health apps as consumers need to gain confidence in features within apps that protect their privacy and security. And when asked why mobile apps are helpful, the top responses are enhanced communication with doctors and providers and the ability to engage with their personal health.”

The healthcare industry is going to continue to consumerize and healthcare executives need to be prepared to meet the demand for digital health technology, according to Skievaski. 

“Like the adoption curve that financial and retail applications experienced a decade ago, widespread support for mobile health apps may take some time as consumers gain confidence in their privacy and security features,” he says. “But as the healthcare industry continues to embrace cloud-based technology, it will enable them to rapidly adopt innovative digital health apps to meet their own unique needs, while also improving the patient experience and outcomes. Healthcare needs a killer app-the kind of app that brings such value to consumers that it becomes indispensable.”