A recent survey reveals that Australian Millennials are not too keen on seeing a doctor. They would rather ‘Google’ the problem.
For the healthcare sector, this is not a trend that bodes well, as it means that preventative medicine has a diminished role… and once a genuine issue arises it might be too late. Worryingly, it appears a generation is growing increasingly insecure over how to manage their health.
This insight was just one of the conclusions drawn from a new global survey that aimed to look at the perception “toward connected care and the role it plays in the future of healthcare”.
Produced by Philips, the findings were published on the online platform, Future Health Index (FHI).
“With Millennials, we are dealing with a cohort that is time poor,” Shehaan Fernando told Tech Exec.
“They are digital natives, so the uptake on the available technology in products like monitors, wearables, and lifestyle apps is strong,” he said.
But, says Fernando, the Director of Hospital to Home Australia and New Zealand – the telehealth division of Philips – Millennials are not getting the potential benefits from the data collected on these devices.
“We have found healthcare professionals [have enthusiasm for the technology], but it does increase their workload… so there is an opportunity here in terms of interpreting the data collected out there in a meaningful way as to be beneficial for all.”
Fernando says that the situation in Australia’s health sector is analogous to that of the financial sector.
In other words, just as Millennials look to technology to serve their banking needs, he says, the research reveals that this generation desires an innovative solution so every health issue does not require a visit to a physician.
“The challenge is, our system makes it very difficult for ‘virtual medicine’ to be recognised as legitimate and fundable [say, a face-to-face consultation via media for instance],” Fernando said.
The involvement of connected care would provide patients and healthcare providers to communicate electronically in real-time.
The data in the survey was collated from questionnaires and interviews conducted in 13 countries including Brazil, China, Japan, South Africa, the UK, and the USA, between February and April this year. In Australia, the surveyed sample was 2,000.
For Millennials, those aged between 18-24, the FHI found that more than half of this cohort were “confident in their ability to manage their own health – at 55% – compared with 76% of Australians aged over 55.”
Open to Digital
FHI found that three-in-four patients – that is 74% – were “comfortable sharing data collected by a connected care technology with a healthcare professional”.
Even if 88% of healthcare professionals are willing and do share patient information, and even if 80% of patients are ready to share their records, this seems to have little impact on what happens when someone actually visits the doctor.
More than two-thirds who took part in the survey said that each meeting with a health professional meant repeating part of their medical history; worse was that one-third of patients experienced difficulty in accessing their own personal health data.
For those engaged in connected care technology, the survey found that these patients are not getting the most out of it.
Disruption in Healthcare
Of the 52% using connected care technology, 32% never share the data with a healthcare professional.
Clearly, this situation presents an opportunity for a disruptive intervention. The perception amongst the population says that 65% of those surveyed for the FHI believe it is ‘red tape’ – healthcare bureaucracy – that is preventing “a coordinated healthcare system” here.
Looking at the situation, Fernando said, “clearly healthcare professionals and patients [across most groups] were willing to share their data, but there is an inherent concern in the health sector over privacy.”
“Such a situation needs to be reviewed,” he said. “A lot of the policies we are working with were written a long time ago, and the government needs to look at the potential that is here now in, say, Cloud technology… and reconsider health policy in terms of connected care.”
Australia ranked third in terms of access to healthcare in the Philips report.
The United Arab Emirates came in at number one in what the survey calls the “perceived adoption of connected care technology and current state of health integration.”