Key highlights

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) ranks highest on the FHI, Japan lowest.

The UAE leads the other countries on the index by a significant margin due to positive views on the current state of integration throughout the health system and patient and healthcare professional readiness to adopt technology – 43% of UAE patients feel the health system is very or completely integrated, the highest rate among countries polled. Japan, meanwhile, is stifled by a perceived lack of access to health services and a perceived lack of knowledge regarding connected care – just 27% of Japanese patients say they have access to the information and resources they need to live healthily, by far the lowest rate among countries surveyed.

Developed countries score better in terms of access; emerging countries are blazing a trail for technology adoption.

Three-quarters (76%) of healthcare professionals in developed countries agree their patients have access to the treatments needed for current and future medical conditions, versus just over half (58%) of those in the emerging countries polled. However, some emerging countries, such as South Africa and the UAE, appear to be leading the way in terms of connected technology adoption, and more healthcare professionals in the emerging economies surveyed expect connected technology to be used to manage health in the future.

Regulations can stop integration in its tracks.

The rigorous data and privacy protection regulations designed to protect patients in developed countries present challenges to the free flow of information needed in more integrated, technology-driven healthcare systems. In the US, for example, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws prevent healthcare professionals from sharing any medical information without written consent from the patient. In Germany half (50%) of healthcare professionals see privacy and security concerns as a top barrier to the adoption of connected care technology.

Technology is a generational issue, for both healthcare professionals and patients.

Across the countries surveyed less experienced healthcare professionals and younger patients are more likely to see, use and share information from connected technology than their older peers. This indicates that adoption will rise in the years ahead as a ‘digitally native’ generation comes of age. Over half (57%) of patients aged 18-34 report owning or using at least one health monitoring device, and one-quarter (25%) feel they are knowledgeable about connected care technology, versus 14% of those aged 55 and older. However, the poll also indicates older patients are more conscious of the potential bene ts of connected technology, indicating many could well be adopters under the right conditions. For example, 79% of patients 55 and older see connected care as important to improving treatment, versus 69% of those aged 18-34.

Patients and healthcare professionals are divided about patients’ ability to monitor themselves.

Technology is making it easier for patients to track their health indicators, and, perhaps not coincidentally, a majority of patients surveyed feel they have the tools (56%) to manage their own health effectively. However, less than half of healthcare professionals (46%) agree, and some experts note the potential misuse of connected technology could raise possible legal and reputational issues for healthcare professionals, making them reluctant to recommend it.

Data is proliferating, but doesn’t travel.

Sharing data between institutions or agencies is a key step in integrating healthcare. Yet despite progress towards universal medical records in some countries, the vast majority of patients (74%) report having to repeat the same information to multiple healthcare professionals, and most (60%) have also experienced repeatedly taking the same tests. Many patients also have yet to share data from connected technology with their healthcare professionals even though two-thirds (60%) own or use the technology.

Bureaucracy is seen as a major stumbling block.

Over half (54%) of healthcare professionals and 43% of patients name health system bureaucracy as a major barrier to the further coordination of healthcare in their country. This view is especially prevalent in countries with large publicly funded systems, such as the Netherlands and Sweden, whereas those in emerging nations are generally less conscious of a bureaucratic barrier.

Trust is key – and, in many cases, lacking.

While according to the survey a majority of healthcare professionals and patients overall trust their national healthcare systems, rates of trust are low in some emerging countries (only 20% of patients and 35% of healthcare professionals in Brazil trust the system), and healthcare professionals tend to be more con dent than patients. The survey indicates there is a strong relationship between trust and technology adoption: healthcare professionals who trust their healthcare systems are more likely to say their patients are sharing information, and view their countries’ health systems as more integrated.

Integration is viewed as worth pursuing.

Sizeable majorities of both patients and healthcare professionals (69% and 85%, respectively) believe integration of the health system can improve the quality of care for patients, and most healthcare professionals (88%) agree that integration can have a direct positive impact on the health of the population. These views are widely shared across countries with the exception of Japan, where nearly one-third (30%) of healthcare professionals think integration would have no or a negative impact on the population’s health.

Yet connection comes at a cost.

The investments required to encourage the adoption of connected technology are a concern across developed and emerging countries, and are shared by the patient and healthcare professional populations. Half of healthcare professionals and patients (52% and 51%, respectively) believe connected care technology would increase the cost of healthcare overall, and there are also worries about the resources needed for associated needs, such as training and data security.