New mothers expect digital interactions with doctors, still a lot of confusion around term digital health

A new Xealth report found gaps in the digital communication that new and expecting moms wanted and what was offered by hospitals.
By Laura Lovett
02:48 pm

As digital becomes the new norm, mothers and expecting mothers are looking for new ways to connect to their healthcare providers, however, the term digital health is still far from a mainstream term, according to a recent Xealth report. 

The report found that nearly half of new and pregnant patients expected to interact with their doctors digitally (47%). However, only 27% of those survey-takers said they are familiar with the term "digital health." Additionally, when asked to describe digital health in their own words, survey-takers responded with a number of different descriptions, which included everything from improving convenience to moderating time spent on digital tools. 

Of mothers who expected to interact with their healthcare provider digitally, the most popular means of this interaction was via online portals, followed by email and text messages. However, the report found gaps in expectations versus reality. For example, roughly 70% of women reported that they expected online access to their medical records at the hospital where they would be delivering their baby – but roughly 53% of their hospitals are providing this service. 

"Hospitals still have a long way to go in meeting the digital health expectations of our moms. At the top of their list is greater online access to medical-health records. And while hospitals are more likely to deliver on transactional digital health services, there is a significant opportunity to introduce digital offerings that provide greater convenience (online scheduling or electronic prescription refills), deliver relevant patient education, create a sense of community and belonging, and offer greater price transparency."

When responders were asked which company comes first to mind when talking about digital health, Apple topped the list, with Fitbit close behind. 

"When our moms hear 'digital health,' no clear company or technology is seen as the leader. They referenced a wide range of companies, from consumer technology brands like Apple and Fitbit, to health-related tools like WebMD or Teladoc, providers like Kaiser Permanente, or payors like Blue Cross Blue Shield," authors of the report wrote. 

The survey, which was conducted by Sid Lee on behalf of Xealth, included results from 932 women over the age of 18 who were new or expecting moms. The survey responders were mainly Millennials (70%), and 52% were new moms. 


The results show a gap between expectations and what is currently offered. It also displays some confusion surrounding the definition of digital health for new and expecting mothers.  

"This survey captured the perspective of new or expectant mothers, most of whom belong to the digital native Millennial and Generation Z cohorts," John Breen, executive director of Health Strategy at Sid Lee, said in a statement. "As they look to manage growing families and aging parents, their expectations for a digital health experience will only continue to rise."


The survey targeted new mothers and expectant mothers – a demographic which has increasingly caught the interest of digital-health companies. Some of the biggest names in the space include BabyScriptsWildflower Health and Mahmee.

Money is also pouring into the space. According to a Rock Health report, funding for Femtech companies has increased by 812% from 2014 to 2018. The report also found that these companies were starting to raise money in latter-stage rounds. In 2018, 30% of the funding deals for women's health companies were Series B or later. 



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