A survey reveals that 90% of consumers are willing to share sensitive personal health data to providers and researchers in order to better understand diseases and improve care, but only if they do it anonymously.
In order to understand a health condition, improve care or know better options, 9 out of 10 Americans over the age of 18 are willing to share personal health data provided that they do so anonymously, according to a survey conducted jointly by healthcare communications company Makovsky Health and market research firm Kelton Global.
If given the assurance that all their personal health data would remain anonymous:
- 40% of those surveyed would share information
- 26% will do so regardless.
- If they could control which personal health data they would like to be anonymous, 23% would be willing to share, the survey reveals.
"In this data, we see strong evidence that consumers are ready to take charge of their health,"
says Tom Bernthal, founder and CEO, Kelton Global.
"Our work in consumer insights finds this proactive health-consciousness across the board. People are no longer satisfied with a passive role in their own healthcare."
In an indication that people’s preference of devices to get personal health data are changing, the data indicates:
- The number of people who use smartphones jumped from 6% in 2013 to 19% in 2014
- Personal computer use slid from 83% to 69% in the past year
- The use of tablets also rose from just 4% last year to 11% this year
“The on-the-go health information movement is integral to the care patients seek in addressing their medical interests,”
Gil Bashe, executive vice president and practice director of Makovsky Health, said in a press release.
“When health concerns strike, people want information almost immediately. Our industry continues to place importance on the mobile user experience, as consumers increasingly use smartphones and are more receptive to information from pharmaceutical-sponsored sources than in years past,”
Some consumers generally distrust health information from pharmaceutical firms which push their own agenda, but attitudes may be changing.
Those who said they would never use a website sponsored by a pharmaceutical company decreased from 23% to 16%, and 35% said they would trust a website to know more about a disease even if that website has ties to a pharmaceutical company.
An endorsement from a doctor remains a big influence whether or not a patient visits a sponsored website, with 55% willing to do so.
About 35% of those surveyed would visit such sites if recommended by family and friends, and 27% if the site is mentioned in an article or news item.
Among websites, 62% of respondents picked WebMD as their main resource, 25% preferred Wikipedia, and 16% visited health advocacy websites such as the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.
A separate national consumer survey also done by Makovsky Health says that the average U.S. consumer spends 52 hours online to get health information.
Much of the existing method still involves desktops and laptops, but the use of smartphones and tablets are gaining traction because of the need to access information easily and instantaneously, despite lingering security and privacy concerns over the handling of personal health data.