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Survey: Many Chronic Patients Not Using Disease Management Tools

April 4, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Digital health devices and apps may not be doing enough to help newly insured consumers, according to a recent survey from Dallas-based consumer health engagement company HealthMine

Consumers insured after the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) expanded coverage in 2014 are sicker and costlier healthcare patients than previous generations, according to a new report by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA). As such, HealthMine's survey of 500 insured consumers found that 59 percent suffer from a chronic condition. But, just 7 percent of these individuals are using a disease management tool, while half use a fitness/activity tracker device or app. Fifty-two percent of respondents are enrolled in a wellness program, and one-third received their health device/app from their wellness program, according to the survey.

The BCBSA report found that newer insured customers had higher rates of diabetes, depression and high blood pressure, among other conditions. They also visited the emergency room much more frequently than people who had private, individual coverage before the law expanded. HealthMine's survey respondents suffered from a range of chronic conditions, with mental illness, chronic pain and obesity among the most common.

Two-thirds of respondents said their program offers incentives for using digital health tools. But when asked: "what is the biggest motivator to use these technology tools?", "knowledge of my numbers" was the number one answer (42 percent). Only 10 percent of consumers reported that incentives are their biggest motivator to use digital health. However, when asked if incentives motivated users to use their digital health tools more frequently, 91 percent said yes.

"Digital health tools have exploded in growth—but more so in the lifestyle management category than in clinical/disease management," Bryce Williams, CEO and President of HealthMine said in a statement. "Every member may not benefit from an activity tracker. For these tools to be effective, they must be tailored to individual needs and connect to the individual's bigger picture of health data."

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