Survey: Diabetes patients who use digital tools self-report better health

By Jonah Comstock
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Livongo Health's device for monitoring blood glucose. Livongo Health's device for monitoring blood glucose.

New survey data from digital health agency Klick Health shows that diabetes patients who use digital tools to manage their health also feel healthier.

Klick Health employed Survey Sampling International (SSI) to poll 2,000 American adults with diabetes either online or via the telephone. Based on responses about how they use technology to manage their health, they segmented the group into three categories: those who manage their health daily or weekly with integrated digital technologies (integrators), those who go online to seek health information on a monthly basis (seekers), and those who don't use the internet to manage their health at all (traditionalists).

The integrators group, the true digital health users, made up just 18 percent of the sample, but 13 percent of integrators reported being in excellent health. Seekers made up 47 percent of the sample and 4 percent of seekers said they were in excellent health. Finally, the remaining 35 percent were traditionalists, and only 2 percent of that group reported being in excellent health. 

Because it's a survey based on self-reported health status, the data doesn't prove that connected patients are actually healthier than non-connected patients. But it does provide evidence that either they're healthier or they believe they're healthier, which is significant in and of itself.

Overall, 98 percent of the group had some kind of internet access. And while they used resources like WebMD with roughly the same frequency as those without chronic conditions, they were nearly twice as likely to go to online forums (38 percent vs 20 percent)

Within the integrator segment, two-thirds reported using digital means to do research across the patient journey: before and after doctor visits, after therapies had been prescribed, and when they had issues with their condition or therapy.

Nineteen percent of patients reported using mobile technology for a health-related activity. Of these, most wanted more data-driven interactions with their doctors. Two-thirds said they would like an app to remind them to take their medication, 75 percent wanted apps to connect them with their doctors, and 78 percent were open to sharing personally-collected health data with their doctors.

Overall, 80 percent of the mobile connected group were interested in having an app recommended to them by their doctor.