A 2013 Snapshot of Patient Engagement

Patient engagement was certainly among the buzz terms of 2013. As the year draws to a close, and the market noise begins to briefly recede, how engaged are patients today? These 5 data points provide some answers.

In the opinion of many, true engagement is not possible without some sort of tracking. After all, how does one measure progress without capturing some sort of data capture? This study from Pew was also corroborated by similar findings from Manhattan Research. 70% engagement is encouraging.

While 32M digital health trackers is impressive, watch for growth here. The adoption curve of mobile devices has been among the steepest of any technology adoption in history and has put the adoption of home broadband to shame.   

This should come as no surprise. Health-related sites have been a popular destination for web users since WebMD's launch back in the Web 1.0 days of 1996. The difference is that today the breadth and depth of health-related information is astonishing. From social support groups, for even the most obscure to diseases, to academic clinical research, and consumer health blogs -- virtually all health information needs can be accommodated in some way online.

25% year-over-year growth is huge. It stands to reason that growth is booming here. Mobile devices are with you when health events happen in a way that desktops and laptops never were. Want to capture a migraine episide when it strikes you in line at the grocery store? No problem. Will growth slow in 2014? There are no signs of deceleration yet. Look for continued growth here as mobile adoption continues across age and income categories and as health sensors and other wearable devices enter the mainstream.

Time and attention is a relatively fixed pie. Don't expect people to start spending 8 hours a day researching health issues and logging biometrics. It won't happen. The opportunity for health systems is to become a go-to resource that users rely on for health management and support. Health systems will face an uphill battle if they take the fragmented approach and offer a discrete app for patient portal functionality, a discrete app for disease management, and another app for navigating the health systems people and facilities. Those that consolidate functionality into a single comprehensive app will have a grateful patient population. 

It's been an exciting year. Here's to 2014!