Patient Access

Connected and Consumer Health Technology in Europe Survey

Consumer health technology at home

As part of the HIMSS Trendbarometer series, the latest edition provides information on the adoption and maturity of connected and consumer health technology in European countries.

At the beginning of the year, when most European countries were experiencing the third wave of the pandemic and had just started with extensive vaccination programs, internet-based ways to deliver care and prevention came more into focus. Such internet-based, consumer health technologies intend to bridge the gap between consumers and health resources, with the goal to increase personal engagement and connectivity to achieve health and wellness.

The pandemic naturally shifted expectations for how, when and where health-related services should be delivered. This has certainly become most visible in the usage of virtual care access gaining momentum, but also other solutions like tools to support the self-management of health and wellness, and will likely continue to do so in the next few years. And already before COVID-19, an increasing number of consumers, who routinely use digital solutions—like for banking or retail—demanded more personalized approaches in care delivery.

This study also enabled a broad picture about key trends and challenges during a pandemic. More than 350 healthcare professionals in Europe took part in the online survey, drawn from health facilities (50%), technology vendors (17%), consultancies (12%), health authorities (5%), and other sources such as the academic sector, media, insurance companies and research organisations (16%). As stakeholders of healthcare systems, they included doctors, nurses, IT leaders, managers, policy makers, consultants, researchers and experts from health IT companies. The survey was conducted between February and April 2021.

The five key findings of the survey include:

  1. European healthcare organisations have invested in and improved their people-enabled and connected health capabilities over the recent years. At the same time, there is still a long way to go to realize benefits holistically and proactively engage patients and consumers through the use of digital tools and services in their health and well-being.
  2. Dutch healthcare organisations are high adopters in terms of consumer-enabled and connected health technologies with almost three-quarters engaging in or supporting these technologies, followed by the Nordics. On the other end, Germany lags behind with only two-fifths of healthcare providers being involved in this area.
  3. Offering traditional services through online channels, such as virtual consultations instead of in-person consultations, has gained traction. New opportunities to deliver care via digital tools and programs that offer personalised, automated advice tailored to personal health goals are still rather rare.
  4. Insufficient budgets and reimbursement regulations, high costs of development and introduction, lack of interoperability, resistance by clinicians and citizens as well as data privacy roadblocks are the key barriers for the further rise of consumer-enabled and connected health technologies.
  5. After business expectations in the digital health industry have taken a modest hit in 2020, due to the pandemic, they have slightly risen again and are almost as high as before COVID-19.

Multiple times a year, the Trendbarometer series examines varying and recurring topics of the industry, and collects insights about the priorities and expectations of digital health professionals for the year ahead and beyond. For the second time, the report includes qualitative insights from digital health experts who agreed to discuss priorities and challenges to be addressed throughout the year ahead, and to help contextualize the findings from the quantitative study.

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