Gaps in Using Digital Technology

The event “Better Together: High Tech & High Touch” sponsored by the Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP) and the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) held in Washington D.C., focused on a new consumer healthcare survey just released. The survey points out that a majority of Americans are unaware or simply don’t have access to the technology needed to communicate with their doctors.

The survey conducted by Nielsen Strategic Health Perspectives, polled more than 5,000 Americans ages 18 and over and looked at attitudes about the use of technology to inform, access, and manage medical care.

The survey also highlighted four consumer groups who were most interested in gaining greater access to their doctors through digital and electronic technology. These groups include parents with children covered under their health plans, chronically ill patients, patients with acute conditions, and adults under 35 years of age.

Specifically, results from the survey specifically showed:

  • Less than half (45 percent) receive even telephone appointment reminders
  • Only one in five (21 percent) have access to online appointment scheduling
  • Fifteen percent use email to communicate with their provider
  • Fourteen percent have 24/7 access to medical advice
  • Fewer than one in ten (9 percent) receive reminders by text
  • Only three percent are able to send a photo of a medical condition via email
  • Just two percent have access to video visits


“These findings emphasize how few patients and providers are actually using the technologies that we use in most other aspects of our daily lives,” said Janet Marchibroda, Director of Health Innovation at BPC. “A lack of appropriate incentives plus regulatory and legislative barriers prevent many healthcare providers from implementing these technologies.”

She adds, “In the 21st century, as healthcare organizations are increasingly responsible for improving the health of large populations, they must rely more on efficient technology-driven patient-physician relationships to achieve performance goals. This means that society must work to create incentives to facilitate adoption of these tools and technologies.”

Robert Pearl, MD, Chair of CAPP Executive Director and CEO, the Permanente Medical Group, keynote speaker at the event, emphasized how vital it is to have ready access to a doctor to achieve high quality healthcare. Yet, the busy schedules of consumers and physicians often prevent timely attention to routine and urgent healthcare problems in the traditional 9 to 5 physician office visit.

The event highlighted four real-life stories demonstrating accountable and technologically-enable care:

  • Felipe a blind man due to complications from diabetes now receives care using tele visits
  • Karen diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer is able to navigate treatment by connecting with her doctors’ via connected communications
  • Emma was burned as a baby in a routine household accident but was able to make a full recovery by being followed using video visits
  • Teresa required a complex heart procedure uses telemedicine to access pre-and post-procedure care at home


To watch the videos, go to and stroll down to featured stories.

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