Consumers are taking control of their healthcare

digital health

A new study conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions (DCHS) reveals that, with the advancement of new technology, consumers are becoming more proactive in their approach to healthcare

The Deloitte 2019 global survey of health care consumers studied the ‘consumer behaviour’ – which, in this context encompasses several attitudes and actions that align with being informed, acting independently, and evaluating choices over healthcare – of individuals in several different countries, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore and the UK.

The study considered the views of around 22,000 participants aged 18 and older, as well as those of 4,530 US adults, which were gathered in DCHS’ online survey from 2018. Overall, the research highlighted some important aspects of consumer behaviour, including an increased use of technology and willingness to share data – in the UK alone, more than half of consumers asked (53 per cent) measure their fitness levels and set health improvement goals. In addition, the study emphasised consumer interest in and use of virtual care, with more than half who have seen a care provider virtually reporting that they are satisfied and would likely have another virtual visit.

Elsewhere – and particularly in the US and the Netherlands – results revealed high levels of self-efficacy and prevention behaviours, whereby people are willing to tell their doctors when they disagree. The findings also explored consumers’ use of tools to make decisions about prescriptions and care, with the study identifying that this trend tends to be employed most in countries where consumers have more exposure to out-of-pocket spending, such as the US and Singapore; and an interest in emerging technologies, including robotics and AI for healthcare, preventive care, monitoring and caregiving.

Together, these key takeaways imply that consumers no longer want to be passive participants in the health system. “They demand transparency, convenience and access. They are also willing to disagree with their doctors and are more likely to engage in preventive behaviours than in the past,” explain Co-Authors David Betts, Principal US Leader for Customer Transformation in Healthcare at Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Leslie Korenda, Research Manager for the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.

The study concludes by noting that by 2040, we can expect the consumer to be at the centre of the health model. “Stakeholders should prepare now for an increasingly demanding and sophisticated consumer. Engaging the consumer holds profound potential benefits for healthcare and the future of health,” the study notes. “To meet consumer needs, organisations should provide easy-to-use platforms, high-quality care through these newer channels, and security and privacy of health and personal information.”

Find the full findings of the survey here.