Digital Implementation, News

Majority of public would use health tech to avoid hospital, research finds


Survey highlights increasing public acceptance of healthcare technology to self-manage care and take greater individual responsibility for health.

The majority of people would use health technology if it meant they could avoid going into hospital, new research carried out by Ipsos on behalf of the NHS Confederation, supported by Google Health, shows.

The same proportion – more than 7 in 10 people (72 per cent) – would also use technology including wearable and health monitoring devices to help better manage and monitor their health and would also be willing to share the information and data gathered with their doctors and other medical professionals.

The survey of 1,037 members of the public highlights people’s increasing appetite for using technology to self-manage their care, and more broadly, to take greater responsibility for their health and that of their families.

Nearly 4 in 5 people (78 per cent) also said they would be happy to use different types of health monitoring equipment to help manage their health if an NHS professional recommended it to them, with nearly 9 in 10 (89 per cent) people aged over 75 willing to do so.

The results have also found that just over half (53 per cent) of the 92 people included in the survey who have been diagnosed with a long-term condition resulting in them interacting with the health service four or more times a year, are already using the NHS App to access personal health information, compared with one third (33 per cent) of the general population.

The government recently announced a target for patients at more than 90 per cent of general practices across the country to be able to use the app to see their records, book appointments and order repeat prescriptions by March 2024.

Commenting on the findings, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation said: “This research shows the potential of technology in empowering patients to better manage and monitor their own health, especially if it means they can avoid being admitted to hospital.

“There is clearly an appetite amongst the public to use technology to self-manage their long-term conditions, and more broadly, to take greater responsibility for their health and that of their families.

“The government’s recent commitment to accelerate and widen the use of the NHS App should also help to strengthen the public’s understanding of the benefits of digital engagement.

“However, the decisions we make now as a society will determine whether technological change means we can make continuous improvement in the offer we make to everyone through the NHS, or whether it will divide ever more widely the ‘healthy haves’ from the ‘unhealthy have nots’. We must always deliver greater digitisation with equity in mind.”

Elsewhere, the survey findings showed that just over 8 in 10 (83 per cent) adults already use some form of technology to manage their health, and this increases to nearly 9 in 10 (89 per cent) people living with one or more long-term condition. However, only just over half of those surveyed were currently satisfied with the technologies and tools available for them at present.

The research also showed that that nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of patients want their doctors to provide them with the “best technology available”, with three-fifths (58 per cent) wishing “their doctor provided them with technology to monitor their health”.

Ease of appointment booking and the ability to communicate via messaging services with healthcare teams are also high on the list of priorities. The research also found that more than two thirds (68 per cent) of people believe that healthcare in the future will include more technology and less reliance on healthcare professionals, although this comes with the concern that without access to the right technologies, access to healthcare could be limited.

Susan Thomas, UK Director, Google Health added: “Google Health has been privileged to partner with NHS Confederation and Ipsos to drive this piece of research; the findings have resonated with our mission to help everyone, everywhere be healthier through products and services that connect and bring meaning to health information.”