By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff
Nearly half of U.S. workers (49 percent) said they are excited by the prospect of a digital transformation of health care, according to recent research from Mercer. The Health on Demand survey found that 48 percent said they would have more confidence in a digital health solution if it were offered by their employer, and 26 percent said they would be more likely to stay with an employer that offered digital health solutions, such as an app to locate providers or access to virtual health care.
The survey of more than 16,000 workers and 1,300 employers around the world suggests that new technologies may be a game-changer for U.S. employers that face the highest health benefit costs in the world as they strive to satisfy employees’ desire for quality, convenient and affordable health care. In fact, nearly 68 percent of U.S. employers plan to invest more in digital health solutions over the next five years.
Respondents were shown a list of 15 specific digital health solutions and asked how valuable each would be to them or their families. The solution that the most workers said they would value, both globally and in the U.S., is an app that “helps find the right doctor or medical care when and where needed.” In the United Kingdom, the most popular solution was wearable technology to help self-manage chronic conditions. And in China, where 76 percent of workers said they are responsible for the health care of a family member (compared to an average of 53 percent across all 13 countries), the most popular digital health solution was “companion robots that help elderly relatives stay healthy at home”, the solution that ranked near last or last in each of the 12 other countries surveyed.
Workers were also asked how willing they would be to try each of the 15 solutions. Nearly all U.S. workers (94 percent) were willing or very willing to try at least one. Across the growth markets, workers were willing to try an average of 10 digital health solutions, compared to an average of 5 in mature markets. To some extent, this disparity may reflect generational influence; a higher percentage of workers in growth markets are Millennials and Gen Z (54 percent) compared to the workers in mature markets (43 percent), and younger people tend to be early adopters of technology regardless of geographic location.
“The survey found that while people have different comfort levels with digital health in general, they are open to solutions that squarely address their values and needs, like an easier way to find the right care,” said Kate Brown, Mercer’s Center for Health Innovation Leader. “In the U.S., more than in most countries, the cost of health care is an important concern. That may point the way to digital solutions that help reduce out-of-pocket spending, like telehealth and wearables.”
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