Consumers More Willing to Share Health Data Than Before Coronavirus Pandemic

Beatrice J. Doty
Consumers More Willing to Share Health Data Than Before Coronavirus Pandemic
Consumers More Willing to Share Health Data Than Before Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has influenced behaviors such as the way we shop, travel and entertain ourselves. Now, new research suggests it’s changing the way we manage information about our health.

Global consulting firm Deloitte has tracked consumers’ perceptions and attitudes about health care and health insurance through surveys since 2008. This year, it followed its Survey of U.S. Health Care Consumers with a second, coronavirus-specific one to see how consumers’ opinions about health care may be changing as a result of the crisis.

A reversal to a trend

The pandemic has put a spotlight on a variety of health care and health insurance issues. A recent ValuePenguin study showed how little consumers know about health insurance.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the idea of sharing personal health information from health- and fitness-monitoring devices wasn’t overwhelmingly popular. From 2018 to early 2020, there was a decline in consumers’ willingness to share personal health data from such devices with their doctor, family and emergency services.

However, the pandemic appears to be changing consumers’ minds about how valuable sharing such data can be, particularly during a crisis:

  • 71% of consumers said they’re willing to share personal health information with their health insurance company, compared with 65% before the crisis

  • 73% said they’re willing to share data with a local health care system or hospital, compared with 71% before the pandemic

  • 53% said they’d share personal health data with a leading national health care provider, compared with 47% pre-pandemic

Some consumers also expressed a willingness to share their personal health data with entities outside of the health care industry, perhaps in a bid to help contact tracing efforts. As a result of the pandemic:

  • 18% said they’d be willing to share personal health data with tech companies, compared with 15% pre-pandemic

  • 15% would be open to sharing personal data with top retailers, up slightly from 14% before the pandemic

  • 15% would be willing to share personal data with top online-only retailers, compared with 13% before the crisis

Tools can help track chronic diseases

The surveys also shed light on which consumers were most likely to share personal health data they collected with their doctors.

In 2020, 42% of consumers reported using tools to track health-improvement goals and measure fitness levels. Among those who did, about half said they shared such data with their doctors. Those with difficult chronic diseases were most likely to share such information with their doctors, with 75% of that group doing so. Consumers who considered themselves to be “in excellent health” were also very willing to share such data with their doctors, with 62% reporting doing so.

With many consumers delaying medical care because of the pandemic, sharing information from tools that track health data might also help consumers stay in touch with their doctors without going in for an appointment.

Methodology: For the Survey of U.S. Health Care Consumers, the Deloitte Center of Health Solutions, a division that provides research on health care issues, surveyed 4,522 adults from Feb. 24 through March 14, 2020. For the Health Care Consumer Response to COVID-19 survey, Deloitte polled 1,510 health care consumers in April 2020.

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