Poll: Patients say they’re more honest via digital channels

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 19, 2012        

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Convenience is one of the major value propositions offered by digital channels like text messaging and email for patient engagement. Often these channels are more readily usable for both patient and provider. It’s not just about convenience, though. New survey data from health texting provider TeleVox says 34 percent of American adults are more honest about their medical needs through automatic calls, email, or text messaging, than they are in a face to face conversation with a doctor.

televox survey

The survey is part of TeleVox’s latest Healthy World report. The company worked with Kelton Research to survey a representative sample of 1,015 American adults, using an online poll accessed via an email invitation. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percent. The survey looked at the ways in which digital engagement tools affect patients.

In addition to the 34 percent who said they were more honest about their medical needs, 28 percent said they were more honest about nutritional habits via digital channels, 27 percent said they were more honest about their fitness regimen, and 18 percent said they were more honest about personal vices.

The survey also asked patients if receiving texts, voicemails, and emails increased their level of trust in their doctor. Thirty percent said they thought it would. Of the 66 percent surveyed who had received digital communication from their doctor, 51 percent reported feeling more valued, 35 percent said it improved their opinion of their provider, and 34 percent said it made them more certain about visiting that same provider again in the future.

Respondents were asked to rate how they would prefer to be contacted by their care provider for various reasons such as payment reminders, care between visits, requests for feedback, or tips for healthier living. Generally, respondents preferred to be contacted by email. In only one category did the majority want to be contacted by phone, instead: appointment reminders. Of course, since the survey was opted in via email, it’s possible it was biased toward email users.

Thirty-five percent of patients who don’t follow the treatment plans laid out to them by their physician said they would be more likely to if digital tools like email or text messaging were deployed to remind them.