Majority of Americans Don’t Use Digital Technology to Access Their Doctors

Nielsen Survey Shows Gaps in Availability That Must Be Fixed to
Improve Patient Care

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, Americans manage much of their lives through digital and
electronic tools, except when it comes to healthcare. According to a new
Nielsen survey released today by the Council
of Accountable Physician Practices
and the Bipartisan
Policy Center
, a majority of Americans are unaware of or don’t have
access to the technology they could use to communicate with their
doctors for better quality healthcare.

“Having ready access to a doctor is vital to high quality healthcare.
Yet the busy schedules of consumers and physicians alike often prevent
timely attention to routine and urgent healthcare problems in the
traditional 9 to 5 physician office visit options. Digital technologies
can help overcome the barriers to accessing medical care, yet our survey
shows that these tools are not available to most Americans,” said Robert
Pearl, M.D., Chairman of the Council of Accountable Physician Practices
and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group and the Mid-Atlantic Permanente
Medical Group. “Healthcare providers must step up our adoption of these
common-sense and available solutions if we are truly going to reform
healthcare delivery.”

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

Results from those surveyed showed that:

  • Less than half – 45 percent – receive even the traditional telephone
    appointment reminders.
  • Only one in five – 21 percent – have access to online appointment
    scheduling with their doctors.
  • Fifteen percent use email to communicate with their provider.
  • Just 14 percent have 24/7 access to medical advice.
  • Fewer than one in ten – 9 percent – receive reminders by text.
  • Only a small percentage – 3 percent – are able to send a photo of a
    medical condition over email.
  • Just 2 percent have access to video visits.

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

The data also showed that consumers who don’t currently have access to
their providers through electronic or digital communications are most
interested in ready access and online interactions: 36 percent preferred
traditional telephone-based medical advice, while 34 and 36 percent,
respectively, expressed interest in one-way engagement such as online
appointment scheduling and online portals to access test results.

“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 the
Bipartisan Policy Center. “A lack of appropriate incentives as well as
regulatory and legislative barriers have prevented many healthcare
providers’ from implementing these technologies. Yet 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. That means
society must create incentives that facilitate adoption of these tools
and technologies.”

Some technologies showed wider gaps between usage and interest than
others among the people surveyed: 36 percent of adults were interested
in a 24/7 telephone line for medical advice, yet only 14 percent had
used such a tool; 28 percent were interested in text appointment
reminders, yet only 9 percent had used them; and 26 percent were
interested in submitting photos of conditions in preparation for phone
or email consultations, yet only 3 percent had used such tools.
Additionally, “virtual care” innovations, such as telemedicine, were
found to be almost completely inaccessible to the average patient.

“Within these survey findings, it is important to note that the gaps
between usage and interest levels may be an awareness issue. Consumers
who expressed low interest levels in certain technologies may actually
have limited awareness of available tools and the possible beneficial
impact these applications may have,” noted Jennifer Colamonico, VP of
Healthcare Insights and Chair at Strategic Health Perspectives, Nielsen
Consumer Insights North America. “If consumers aren’t familiar
with all the options, or cannot imagine how those options could enhance
their healthcare experience, they place little value in such options.
But consumer education can increase demand for and usage of these tools.”

Pearl concluded, “Our CAPP medical groups and health systems are
committed to integrating the appropriate technologies to ensure that
patients receive the high quality, coordinated and convenient care they
deserve. The findings in this survey show that we all must ramp up our
efforts to use technology to support the patient-doctor relationship and
improve medical outcomes. Appropriate technology used in the context of
accountable, coordinated care settings will improve access and produce
better results. If we don’t take these steps, our efforts in population
health management and in delivering accountable care will be seriously

For more information on the survey, click
. To see videos of real-life patients whose lives and health
have been impacted by the appropriate use of healthcare technologies,
click here.

About the Council of Accountable Physician

The Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP), an affiliate of
the American Medical Group Foundation, is a coalition of visionary
medical group and health system leaders. We believe that physicians
working together, backed by integrated services, systems and data and
technology, can best shape and guide the way care is delivered so
that the welfare of the patient is always the primary focus. For more
information, contact CAPP at

About the Bipartisan Policy Center:

Founded in 2007 by former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom
Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell, Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is
a non-profit organization that drives principled solutions through
rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation and respectful dialogue. With
projects in multiple issue areas, BPC combines politically balanced
policymaking with strong, proactive advocacy and outreach.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management
company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers
watch and buy. Nielsen’s Watch segment provides media and advertising
clients with Total Audience measurement services for all devices on
which content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment
offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the
industry’s only global view of retail performance measurement. By
integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data
sources, Nielsen also provides its clients with analytics that help
improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over
100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For
more information, visit


for Council of Accountable Physician Practices
Scott Public
Joy Scott, 818-610-0270
Policy Center
Joann Donnellan, 202-204-2384
Aronson, 646-654-5742