With the rise of personal health trackers and other healthcare technology over the last decade we’ve seen a fundamental shift in how we approach looking after our health and wellbeing. These days, the same way we have control over our financial and social data, we now expect to have control of our health data, with many of us seeking personalised support to meet our health and wellness goals.
At ParentsandBrands, we recently carried out an insights project asking parents about family health and we saw this trend to turn to tech with regard to health management reflected in the findings. In this article, we’ll take a closer look into some of the insights we uncovered and consider potential opportunities for healthcare brands and businesses.
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Parents are embracing health tech for their families
Personal health trackers are making a splash
Whether families are gamifying their fitness goals by competing with family members on daily step count challenges or tracking clinical markers such as their blood sugar levels, Irish parents are going all-in for health tracking devices.
Fitbits are the device of choice, with 50% of the parents we spoke to telling us either they or another member of their family uses one. 10% said they used an Apple watch, while smartphone health and exercise apps were also popular (49%).
Remote healthcare services bring peace of mind to parents during the pandemic
Parents told us that they still prefer to consult with healthcare professionals in person where possible but were largely positive towards the growing trend of accessing healthcare via digital means. For example, the ability to video chat with doctors since the pandemic began has been an invaluable service and source of peace of mind for parents during uncertain times. At least where more minor illnesses and general medical advice is concerned, parents say they are happy to continue accessing appointments online.
“It’s very convenient and feels much more safe during COVID-19, however I much prefer in-person consultations as they feel more personable.”
“I think that it has benefits as you can catch all sorts of bugs in a surgery. Although, theDoctor cannot take your blood pressure or listen to your heart or take a hands on approach online.”
“It can be great, if it means you don’t have to leave the house to get medical advice when you are feeling ill. And it offers more privacy.”
Are pharmacies and health insurers missing a trick when it comes to integrating health tech?
Pharmacies and pharmacists – beacons of trust
We asked parents to list their top reasons for visiting pharmacies. Unsurprisingly, the number one reason was to fill their prescriptions, but we also found that seeking medical advice from pharmacists was similarly high up on list. It turns out that parents seek guidance from pharmacists much in the same way that they would book remote video consultations with their doctor – to seek advice on minor ailments.
“I would ask a pharmacist their opinion before booking an appointment with a doctor to assess whether symptoms are something small or should betaken further.”
“A lot of things from teething problems to constipation, to ear ache – they are often as good as doctors. Most are lovely friendly people.”
Parents also told us that they value and have trust in the relationships that they have with their local pharmacists. The personal touch makes them feel that their wellbeing is important and it strengthens their sense of local community. It’s a relationship that goes two ways – when parents feel valued as customers, they are more likely to want to support local businesses.
“I prefer my local pharmacy, as the pharmacist knows me and my family and we value this special personal touch and trust.”
“I ask them for information on the winter season, vitamins and minerals and what products are good for your body and skin. They are so helpful for advice.”
Opportunities for pharmacies/pharmacists
Given the strong sense of trust that parents put in local pharmacies around matters concerning their family health and the widespread receptivity towards emerging health tech, it begs the question – is this an area that pharmacies should be investing in?
Certainly, we can see that bigger pharmacy chains have already capitalised on this growing appetite. For example, McCabe’s Pharmacy offers a wide range of online resources offering advice on different ailments, products and treatments available as well as a newsletter to keep its customers up to date. Allcare Pharmacy has launched its own mobile app where customers can order repeat prescriptions and book appointments with online GPs.
Though smaller, independent pharmacies might not have the resources for extensive extra digital services, there’s certainly an opportunity there to hone in on the great strength that they have over larger chains – that personalised, local community touch. For instance, can your business set up or leverage existing social channels to emphasise any special, personalised services your pharmacy offers in your local community?
How can health insurers benefit from health tech?
Parents have told us that they have a love/hate relationship with health insurance. On one hand, it offers a much needed security blanket but on the other, it is often perceived as too expensive and needlessly complicated. When we asked parents to tell us how their health insurers could improve their offerings, we were surprised to find that technology could have a part to play.
In the same way that car insurance providers reward customers for responsible driving (e.g. no claims bonuses), parents want recognition of the efforts they make towards maintaining good health.
“Health supplement vouchers, pharmacy vouchers and fitness tech vouchers. Supply thermometer to family with kids, etc. More dental cover and free contraception options!”
“They could offer more options for discounts on gyms and fitness wear.Better coverage for mental health. And an easier/clearer method of inputting receipts.”
Opportunities for health insurers
As explored above, most parents we spoke to have already adopted health tech into their everyday lives. There is an opportunity here to leverage this take up of health tracking devices and apps to offer health insurance policy holders added value.
There’s a perception (and often resentment) amongst parents that health insurance policies are too expensive. Offering customers the opportunity to link data from their health trackers to reward positive health maintenance efforts with discounts, vouchers etc. is an example of how heath insurance providers could attract and retain new customers.
Hungry for more family health insights?
If you’ve found this article useful, don’t forget to download the full insights report to see what parents are saying about family health today.
Find out how to attract parents to your health brand
Looking for ways to connect your brand or product with Irish parents? Contact us directly to find out how ParentsandBrands can help you with valuable in-depth parent-specific insights concentrated on your business/product sector.
Would you like business-transforming insights from parents for your business? Use our tailored panels of engaged parents and our dedicated private platform to gather critical insights to help influence consumers to deliver long term profitability. Contact us now to find how we can help.