Health technology

Analysis

Technology-enabled home health

Are consumers ready?

As technology becomes more affordable and connected, it should enable an increasing variety of health care services to migrate from a hospital or physician office to the home. But how do consumers view technology’s role in health care? What concerns and reservations do they have? How willing will they be to adopt new technologies that bring care to their homes?

How do consumers view technology’s role in health care?

As technology-enabled home health becomes more pervasive, how will consumers respond? What concerns and reservations will they have? Will they readily adopt new technologies? Deloitte conducted focus group research to better understand consumer expectations and preferences for receiving health care services in the future, focusing on care in the home.

In general, consumers are optimistic: To them, the benefits of technology-enabled home health far outweigh the risks, and they are eager to try it. For the unwell, home health technology can help manage their conditions and slow disease progression. For caregivers, it can offer peace of mind. For the healthy, it can provide the tools and support to maintain healthy behaviors.

Even though interest is high, we heard some concerns. Consumers value the personal nature of health care and the patient-doctor relationship. Many are concerned that increasing reliance on technology will erode the relationships that they feel are already threatened by the fragmented nature of health care, decreasing face time with doctors, and difficulty establishing and maintaining those meaningful relationships. While it may seem obvious that technology should reinforce and facilitate relationships rather than supplant them, consumers' previous experiences with technology temper their enthusiasm.

Technology-enabled solutions that are perceived to intrude on people's privacy, such as sensors that monitor an individual's sleep quality or motion patterns at home, face resistance. Education may be required to effectively convey the benefits of such monitoring; consumers are then able to evaluate the pros and cons, and many are amenable to the tradeoff.

As more care moves to self-care, consumers want to have influence and control over their own care and health information. They expect to learn about new technologies and to be actively involved—as patients or caregivers—in deciding which technologies are used for their care, how they are used, and what data will be disclosed and shared.

Companies—whether newcomers or traditional players—developing the technology for home health are expected to negotiate a number of challenges:

  • Addressing interoperability and building a unified patient record may require unprecedented levels of collaboration among multiple stakeholders (e.g., providers, health plans, patients, wellness vendors, home health agencies, and social services).
  • Redesigning provider workflows should take into account changing roles and responsibilities of individuals on the care teams, the fluid nature of the teams, and the cultural shift from a provider-centric to a patient-centric model of care. We expect the most acceptable solutions will incorporate care teams because consumers trust their physicians and want those continued relationships.
  • New technology solutions will serve diverse segments of users; among them, patients, caregivers, physicians, and care team members. Their needs, technology platforms, and comfort with technology will vary and issues, such as health conditions, disease stage, culture, income, and education will come into play. For example, a solution that might be appropriate for someone with diabetes who is highly engaged and tech-savvy will likely be different from a solution for a caregiver of someone with dementia.
  • Sustaining consumer and provider engagement in technology-enabled home health may be one of the greatest challenges. To be able to customize engagement approaches, stakeholders will need to earn customers' trust and develop in-depth understanding of their needs, limitations, and preferences. By involving future customers in solution design and testing, stakeholders will be able to not only derive useful early lessons but also inform engagement approaches that will lead to sustained use of the solutions.
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