The shift to digital healthcare didn’t start with Covid-19, but the global pandemic undoubtedly accelerated it. According to Deloitte, back in 2011, investment in health tech was about $1.1 billion; in 2019, it was $7.4 billion and jumped to a staggering $14 billion in 2020.
So, what does all of this investment mean for healthcare organizations (HCOs)? That change is coming to the industry faster than many previously thought.
Some of the biggest changes are in the area of patient experience, where traditional providers face challenges against digital-first HCOs. According to one study, HCOs that discover and apply customer insights are 5x more likely to grow revenue.
Tellingly, patients see their app and associated communication experience as a reflection of their care team, leading to high engagement with digital experiences. For example, push notifications earned reaction rates upwards of 40% for HCOs in another study — over 30% higher than average reaction rates.
To help you understand other ways the healthcare industry is shifting, we’ve compiled a list of the most telling statistics in digital healthcare and optimizations. With these stats, HCOs can contextualize the changes happening in healthcare, so they don’t get left behind as this industry rapidly develops.
You can learn more about how other HCOs are using these strategies to improve patient experience on their platforms in our report on CX in the healthcare industry by Forrester.
Health Tech Industry Statistics
As we’ve seen, overall investment in health tech has grown enormously. However, those billion-dollar figures don’t tell the whole story. Looking at the healthcare industry as a whole, we can see who is poised to reap the benefits of the new money flowing in and what pitfalls exist for current companies making the move to modernize.
- Investors are looking for HCOs willing to innovate and experiment with new ways of providing healthcare to patients.[Source] The majority of healthtech investments in 2020 went to two areas: “well-being and care delivery models” and “data and platforms” ($6.4 billion and $6.1 billion). These investment figures are even more impressive when put in the context of the massive growth seen in overall healthcare venture funding in 2020. According to the same Deloitte research, the total investments in healthcare startups in 2020 was around $14 billion—nearly twice the $7.4 billion in 2019.
- Mental health startups are projected to raise around $1.16 billion in 2020 (compared to $691 million in 2019).[Source] With around 1/5 of U.S. adults experiencing mental health illnesses, this sector represents a potentially massive area for HCOs to expand into to differentiate their offerings and reach more patients.
- 98% of surveyed pharmaceutical and life sciences executives say they expect digital investment in clinical trials to increase next year.[Source] These investments show how digital adoption is not just on the patient-facing side. HCOs involved in clinical trials should also consider investing in digital platforms to help them take advantage of new ways of getting new procedures and medicines to market.
- On the Google Play Store, mHealth app numbers in Q1 of 2021 increased to 53,054, up from 49,809 in Q4 2020.[Source] The proliferation of mHealth apps is mirrored by the continued growth in the digital fitness and well-being industry — an industry projected to grow from nearly $40 billion in 2020 to over $51 billion in 2021. HCOs that want to continue growing should look to see how they can tap into this obvious public interest. With the number of users increasing from 152 million to 193 million and the average revenue per person growing from $142.89 to $150.69 over the course of 2020 and 2021, this seems to be a trend that is likely to continue for some time.
- In 2020, healthcare breaches rose by 55.1% compared to 2019.[Source] This increase shows that HCOs need to invest more in cybersecurity to keep their data safe. However, it’s important to note that breaches should not affect HCOs’ willingness to experiment through methods like A/B testing. Half of HCOs think anonymized customer data is risky, but the truth is anonymous data carries minimal risk and allows you to improve patient experience on your platform.
- The majority of healthcare breaches came from IT incidents and hackers (67.3%), followed by unauthorized disclosure (21.5%).[Source] Therefore, HCOs moving into the digital space should invest in more secure data platforms and training to ensure that patient data is never stolen or accidentally released to the public.
- Healthcare incurred the highest average breach costs of any industry at $7.13 million.[Source] Even though these costs can be eye-watering, it's important to remember that the cost of data breaches cannot solely be counted in dollar values. A data breach can personally harm patients and damage an HCO's reputation, and it may be hard to rebuild public faith in your institution once it's doubted.
Digital Strategy, Optimization and Personalization Statistics
Optimization and personalization are two ways that HCOs are looking to set themselves apart from the competition. Creating a data-backed digital adoption strategy that improves patient experience increases profits, but that doesn’t mean everyone has improved in these areas enough to take advantage—as these stats will show.
- HCOs that manage to harness customer insights when optimizing their platform are 5x more likely to increase their revenue.[Source] This revenue growth is because of the ability of digitally forward HCOs to “create differentiated patient experiences,” a level of personalization only possible with customer insights mined from data analysis.
- 76% of respondents in a survey of HCO managers said digital customer engagement was “important or critical for [their] business.”[Source] One of the major reasons digital engagement is considered so important is that digital platforms are often some of the first places patients turn to when they have questions or concerns about their health. Improving your digital offerings can be a step toward becoming the trusted source your patients check first when they have questions.
- 72% of HCO managers believe “digital customer engagement is only going to become more important to their organization.”[Source] Digital customer engagement strategies are how HCOs connect with their patients online and reinforce that they are their patients’ trusted source of health information, online or otherwise.
- 85% of healthcare executives agree that the keys to benefitting from a digital transformation are acting on patient insights at scale (85%) and developing data management processes to meet the specific needs of patients (83%).[Source] This means that for HCOs to improve their digital offerings successfully, they’ll need to collect patient data, draw meaningful insights from it, and then act on those insights to improve the overall patient experience by optimizing the UX and personalizing care.
- 1 in 7 HCO executives says their HCOs data strategies were immature or non-existent.[Source] When we break down the results further, we can see that there is a lot of room for improvement. Three percent of HCOs said they had no data strategy, 11% described their data strategy as immature, 50% saw them as currently “maturing,” while only 36% of HCOs called their data strategy “very mature.” For the nearly two-thirds of HCOs that have yet to reach the “very mature” stage, improving their data strategies should be one of their top goals in the coming years if they want to keep pace with more digital-forward organizations.
- Prominent hurdles to bringing data strategies up to speed include “a lack of staffing (46%), insufficient funds (46%), and difficulty implementing and integrating marketing tech (29%).”[Source] If HCOs are to truly implement data strategies that can enable better digital adoption, more investments in these key areas will be necessary first.
- 1 in 5 HCO leaders says “their organization can’t keep up with the volume, velocity, and variety of data.”[Source] The top concerns HCOs had about health care data were the number of metrics they needed to track (34%), privacy concerns (33%), and the speed of new data flowing in (32%). None of these problems will be going away on their own. HCOs concerned about their healthcare data should invest in a data platform that can keep up with new data, find relevant insights, and keep privacy secure.
- For areas of growth, 49% said they’d focus on telehealth awareness, and 20% plan to offer online scheduling.[Source] Just as health care as a whole is learning to embrace digital solutions, so too are HCOs increasingly looking to digital avenues to spread the word about their platforms. Thirty-one percent of companies said they planned to increase their investment in search engine optimization (SEO), 30% planned to spend more on paid social media advertising, and 10% said their full advertising budget was in digital marketing. If your advertising has yet to embrace the digital world, you may be missing out on patients not reached by traditional advertising methods.
- 74% of health executives said they would invest in predictive modeling in 2021.[Source] Predictive modeling allows HCOs to predict future behavior based on current data. Investing in this technology will help HCOs anticipate their patients’ needs, providing a better level of patient care.
Patient Experience Statistics
When thinking about optimizing in the healthcare industry, patients need to be your top concern as they are the ones you are ultimately optimizing for. It’s no surprise 2020 was a hard year for many patients, and insights from them can help you understand what they need from HCOs.
- The use of virtual visits grew to 19% in early 2020, up from 15% in 2019.[Source] The same research found that virtual visits grew to 28% in April of 2020. Although an encouraging sign, this was also during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether this is solely a reaction to an unprecedented health crisis or an acceleration of a current trend has yet to be seen. Understanding the true lasting impacts of the pandemic on virtual visits and digital health care is still probably many years away.
- 80% of people are likely to continue doing virtual healthcare visits even after the pandemic ends.[Source] This is particularly true among the younger generations, with 86% of GenZ and 83% of millennials saying they would continue to use virtual visits. It’s good news that patients are walking away with good first impressions of telehealth services. However, there are still areas where telehealth can improve. For instance, some patients still complain of long wait times and being unhappy with their clinicians. These issues are common in traditional health care settings as well, so if telehealth can reduce these friction points, it may help further encourage telehealth adoption. Another key takeaway from this statistic is that these positive sentiments are coming from people who have used telehealth already. These people may be more inclined than the general population toward telehealth, and more needs to be done to reach out to people still unsure about digital healthcare options.
- Telehealth use is 38x higher now than it was before the pandemic.[Source] This meteoric rise could be the jumping-off point where telehealth truly becomes a mainstream alternative to in-person doctor visits. HCOs would do well to position themselves now to take advantage of this growing market.
- In the U.S., 42% of consumers report using tools to “measure fitness and track health-improvement goals.”[Source] This statistic shows that more Americans are interested in learning about and improving their health through digital technology. Including features on your platform to help patients track their progress at home could help them connect more with your service.
- More than 75% of people who use wearable health tech report that it helps change their behaviour.[Source] Wearable tech and smartphone integration may be the future of patient interactions. Building your platform with these devices in mind can help you prepare for a world where push notifications and HCO apps help patients improve their health every day.
- 65% of consumers want to own their own health data.[Source] This statistic speaks to some of the unease many patients have with private companies and their handling of personal information, health or otherwise. Regardless of how you handle data ownership, it’s important to consider how you’re actively reassuring patients that their data is protected and not being abused. If patients doubt the integrity of HCOs, it could put a major stumbling block in the way of increased digital adoption in the years to come.
- In some studies, push notifications have been shown to improve health outcomes.[Source] For example, out of those in a clinical weight loss program, participants who recieved push notifications saw significantly better results than those in a control group. Besides facilitating access to healthcare, digital HCOs should also foresee more digital and mobile-enabled treatement in the future.
Learn More About the State of Digital Adoption in Healthcare
If HCOs want to continue to succeed and grow, it’s clear a strong digital adoption strategy will need to be a part of their future plans. Patients and investors are asking for more digital adoption, and HCOs have yet to meet that challenge wholeheartedly. The good news is for HCOs willing to adapt and change the way they provide services to their patients, a sea of potential improvements is waiting to be put to use. One of the best ways to find the changes you need to implement is with data-backed optimizations and personalization found through data analysis and A/B testing.