Consumers are more bullish demanding virtual and digital health tools from their physicians than doctors are in providing it, based on the research findings in What can health systems do to encourage physicians to embrace virtual care? from Deloitte.

One-third of physicians have concerns about using virtual care services, such as medical errors that may result, access to technology, and data security.








One in two U.S. consumers are now tracking health via digital tools, and one-half of these share the data generated by their apps. That sharing is limited by doctors’ ability to accept patient-generated data, where only a handful of doctors have implemented technology for remote monitoring or integrating data from wearable technologies. One-fourth of doctors plan to implement this capability in the next two years.

Aside from the technology challenges, which are not trivial, physicians do concur with consumers about the potential benefits of virtual care to expand access, provide convenience to patients, and enable connections in-between office appointment times.

Deloitte surveyed 624 physicians and 4,530 consumers to gauge each stakeholder group’s perspectives on digital and virtual healthcare technologies, opportunities and concerns.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:  On a recent walk through Manhattan, I happened upon this ad in a bus stop kiosk promoting the wearable fitness tech products sold at Macy’s. “Macy’s?” you ask. Wearable tech is an important category these days in department stores, with discount retailers like Target and Walmart, at electronics outlets like Best Buy and, of course, via Amazon’s wearable tech ma

The smartwatch category, with fitness tracking, is hot in 2018, some “smarter” than others. Tech companies like Apple, Google, Samsung and Withings are competing with fashion watch purveyors like Fossil (which boasts dozens of popular brands like Burberry, DKNY, Armani, Diesel, Tory  Burch, Kate Spade, Callaway Golf, Skagen, Michele and Adidas, among others) and Tag Heuer.

As the Deloitte consumer-vs-physician study shows, there’s a gap between patients who are taking on more DIY healthcare tasks. Clinicians continue to have real concerns about clinical validity (per the AMA’s Dr. James Madara’s comment that so many of these tools and apps can be “digital snake oil.” And worries about medical error rates and privacy are also justifiable reasons for doctors to slow their adoption of (some) digital and virtual care platforms.

But evidence is growing for telehealth and a more remote health monitoring tools, some undergoing scrutiny by the FDA. We have reached a tipping point now that Medicare begins to pay for some virtual care services. Watch this space and don’t blink: virtual care will soon be, simply, “healthcare.”