Even with Digital Health Tools Available to Track Health Conditions, Most Still Would Rather Use Paper and Pen

According to a recent Pew Research report, adults prefer to track health data “in their heads” over tracking it digitally. Currently, only 20 percent of Americans track their health digitally using a variety of tools available to them, Pew reports.

The report was compiled through a national phone survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. The results of the survey found that 69 percent of U.S. adults keep track of at least one health indicator, such as weight, diet, exercise routine or other symptom. Of those, half of the respondents track “in their heads” while one-third keep notes on paper and one in five use technology to keep tabs on their health status.

When the respondents were asked to think about the health indicator they pay the most attention to either for themselves or someone else, 49 percent of trackers in the general population say they do so “in their heads” with men being more likely to keep track in their heads than women.

According to Pew, the report results are “surprising given the growing availability of digital health tools available to the consumer to monitor and track their health. It also validates the challenges many digital health developers face when creating digital health tracking tools.”

Another 34 percent of trackers in the general population say they track the data on paper, like in a notebook or journal as women are more likely than men to track health data using pencil and paper (40% vs. 28%) as are older adults (41% of those ages 65 and older, compared with 28% of those 18-29 years old).

One in five trackers in the general population (21%) says they use some form of technology to track their health data, which matches the previous 2010 findings. Other key findings specific to the technology adoption of tracking include:

The results of the report came from a nationwide survey of 3,014 adults living in the United States. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (1,808) and cell phone (1,206, including 624 without a landline phone).

Interesting that this is the case especially given all of the recent attention a variety of health tracking tools and patient portals are getting. Most likely, this falls into the category of one of two things: 1). the condition is so minor that it only needs to be tracked in someone’s head or 2.)  as younger patients “enter the market” we’ll see a considerable uptick in the number of people using technology to track their conditions.

Or, maybe patients will never care about such things and firms like Pew will continue to produce reports telling us the results of their surveys.

What say you? Will we see an uptick in the use of technology to track health data or not? Why?