Fully 88% of those French people who do not own a health-related connected device have no plans to acquire one over the next three years. However, very few medical practitioners doubt the value of the ‘connected’ revolution in healthcare, a recent study reveals.

Atelier/IFOP Survey: Connected Objects Gradually Making Headway in Healthcare

Practically all French people own some kind of equipment – such as a set of scales or a thermometer – designed to measure their physiological data, and now the percentage of the population who own a ‘connected’ measuring device is also on the rise. The figure currently stands at 11% but this is likely to almost double in the next three years reveals a study carried out by L'Atelier in conjunction with the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) ahead of a recent ‘Théma’ discussion session entitled“Les objets connectés, au centre d'un nouvel écosystème de santé?” (Connected objects at the centre of a new health ecosystem?). However, the study also reveals that despite the increasing use of ever-more sophisticated mobile devices, relatively few people are even aware of the existence of ‘connected objects’. The main reason for this appears to be that healthcare practitioners are not driving penetration of these measurement tools. Only 16% of people who own connected objects learned about them at their pharmacy and a mere 9% from medical staff. “Today connected objects for measurement are targeted at the general public and sold in large retail outlets. This is a deliberate strategy but the downside is that it cuts them off from potentially being prescribed by medical practitioners and from the prudent advice that goes with that process,” points out Matthieu Soulé, a strategic analyst at L’Atelier.

Fostering a beneficial ecosystem

Owners of connected objects basically decide to use these tools in order to improve their physical well-being. So one owner in two uses this kind of tool to track or improve some aspect of their health. However, when they are asked for more details, it appears that only a minority actually make an effort to track their data very accurately: only 13% stated that they check their parameters on a daily basis. If connected objects are viewed as mere gadgets and arouse scepticism among the public, it may well be that these doubts arise from the sheer diversity and varying levels of usefulness of the whole ecosystem around the collection and analysis of the data. Another source of concern over the use of connected objects may be that people tend not to really get to grips with the measurements and what they actually mean. Half of the French people polled by IFOP indicate that these barriers arise from doubts about the efficiency of the measurements. Another drawback is the technical nature of the equipment. In this situation, the idea of setting up a broad platform for collecting and analysing data and enabling medical tracking and charging for access seems to have real potential.

People generally in favour of sharing medical data

Despite the current hot debate over the use of personal data, 61% of the device users surveyed by IFOP say they would agree to share data gathered from connected measurement devices, mainly with medical personnel. “Healthcare staff are the number one choice when it comes to sharing medical data, with close to 63% of those polled stating that they would prefer healthcare practitioners to manage their data, compared with just 42% who would rather do it themselves,” underlines Matthieu Soulé. However there is a wide disparity across ages and genders. “The results show that older people are the group with the highest percentage (86%) of ownership of health measurement tools today. We also see that women tend to be more wary than men when it comes to sharing data with health staff. Meanwhile among the socio-economic categories, members of the liberal professions and senior management personnel (… ) are the most optimistic that connected objects could one day be used to obtain medical treatment all by themselves,” Matthieu Soulé points out.

By Pierre-Marie Mateo