Research has recently been released by NHS Confederation and Google Health. The survey of 1,037 people found that the public’s appetite for using technology to manage their healthcare is increasing.
Four in five people said they would be happy to use health monitoring equipment to manage their condition if it was recommended by an NHS professional. This highlights the importance of referral from a trusted person. Without buy-in from your healthcare team, patients’ willingness to adopt digital innovations could be significantly reduced.
This study closely echoes the findings from a survey we conducted back in 2022. Spirit Health asked over 2,000 adults across the UK a series of questions around the terms ‘healthcare at home’ and ‘virtual wards’. All with the aim to explore the public’s perception of digital health technology, and whether this could affect patient engagement and adoption.
Our research found that people were willing to use digital health technologies if it meant they could remain at home. 53% of people said they would prefer to have their ‘health monitored from home, rather than hospital’.
These findings support the global predictions for remote patient monitoring solutions. It’s been estimated that the total number of patients using digital health technology to track their health from home will reach 115.5 million globally by 2027. This is an increase of 67% based on only 75 million patients using them in 2023(1). With the capacity crisis, ageing population and rising costs affecting healthcare systems across the globe, remote healthcare solutions could be a massive help in relieving pressures system-wide, whilst improving healthcare access for patients.
One of the benefits of remote patient monitoring is that it can often mean leaving hospital sooner. This was found to be a major motivator for all ages in our survey. 62% of respondents agreed that they would use digital health tech if it meant they could leave hospital sooner. For those over 55, this was up to 75% of people.
Since our survey, this seems to have only increased. NHS Confederation’s research shows that across all age groups, more than 7 out of 10 (72%) would use technology to avoid hospital admission.
While we’re expecting to see a rise in the use of digital health technology for remote care, we know that patient and clinical engagement is crucial to ensure widespread adoption. If they don’t understand what it means, will they want to use it?
‘Virtual ward’ is a term commonly used in the UK to define ‘hospital-level care from the comfort of the patient’s own home’. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, this term has been used across the media and within healthcare spaces.
However, our research found that on average, only 36% of people felt that they could explain what a virtual ward was to a relative or friend with confidence. This decreased even further for those over the age of 55, where only 25% said they could explain it. This highlights a gap in patients’ knowledge base and with our ageing population, this could only become more of a challenge.
Our key takeaway from this data is that while there is an appetite for digital health tech solutions, it is crucial to ensure that you are aware of which terms your healthcare partners and customers are using and have a good understanding of. Their perception of these terms could be the key to unlocking clinical and patient engagement. So, the big question is - do you know what language your partners and customers use? And even more importantly, what does it mean to them?
(1) NHS Confederation, 2023. Majority of public happy to use health technology to avoid going into hospital, new research shows. Available from: https://www.nhsconfed.org/news/majority-public-happy-use-health-technology-avoid-going-hospital-new-research-shows
(2) Spirit Health, 2022. How do patients really feel about virtual wards? Data on file.
(3) Juniper Research. 2023. Remote patient monitoring: key trends, regional analysis and market forecasts 2023-2027. Available from: https://www.juniperresearch.com/researchstore/healthcare-government/remote-patient-monitoring-research-report