Self-motivation, not reward, encourages consumers to use digital health tools

Digital health devices and apps are becoming more widespread, allowing people to monitor their health and giving valuable data to healthcare providers.

But new research shows that the market is still being driven by fitness and activity trackers rather than clinically-focused tools to help manage chronic conditions. And motivating people to use digital health tools is not simply a matter of offering incentives or rewards.

Consumers use digital health tools for a variety of reasons, but the study by HealthMine, a consumer health engagement firm, found that most people can’t be incentivised to use them by an outside force. Instead, the biggest motivator is a person’s concern for their own wellbeing and desire to improve their health.

HealthMine surveyed 500 people and found that 59% suffer from a chronic condition. Yet only 7% of these individuals are using a disease management tool, while 50% use a fitness/activity tracker device or app.

More than half (52%) of all those questioned are enrolled in a wellness programme and two thirds (66%) said their programme offers incentives for using digital health tools.

But when asked: “what is the biggest motivator to use these technology tools?”, the number one answer, cited by 42%, was “knowledge of my numbers”. For 26% the biggest motivator was improving their health, with digital tools helping them to manage their condition or reach their health goals.

Only 10% of consumers said that incentives were their biggest motivator to use digital health.

Despite this, when asked if incentives motivated users to use their digital health tools more frequently, 91% said yes.

“Digital health tools have exploded in growth — but more so in the lifestyle management category than in clinical/disease management,” commented Bryce Williams, chief executive and president of HealthMine.

“For these tools to be effective, they must be tailored to individual needs and connect to the individual’s bigger picture of health data,” Williams added.

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