People are ready for digital health. Are you?

We asked 3,200 participants about their thoughts, attitudes and behaviours surrounding digital health. Learn more about delivering impactful digital health solutions with our key insights.

Full study results

If you are interested in the full study results, you can download the reports here:

Download the full study results

Our key insights are:

People want to manage their own health

... but they seem to lack resources they can trust.

There is a vast amounts of health-related data out there

... and people are willing to share it.

People expect digital health services to be free

... so the healthcare industry must get creative to monetise new solutions.

People want to feel empowered to make health decisions... 

Mature sportsman stretching on the beach after a run.
...but seem to lack resources they can trust.

Knowledge is power, and today, people want the power to make the right health decisions. This growing public health literacy is particularly prevalent among younger generations. But the responses suggest a lack of digital resources that provide trustworthy, evidence-based information. There is a mismatch between whom people trust to provide health knowledge and who is actually providing it.

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Overall, 58% of all respondents indicated they would like to improve their health situation. The largest proportion came from younger people (age) where 74% of participants felt that they would like to live healthier lives than they currently do. This reflects the overall trend of younger people being more likely to become engaged, proactive and empowered in their personal health journey.

Eight in 10 people use the internet to access information on therapies and medications but feel the sources don’t always meet their needs:

41% ‘Google’ symptoms at least once a month: Just under half of respondents use Google to check their symptoms at least once a month. Of those, 66% have been worried about the information they find – but their worries were only justified in one-third of cases.

46% feel empowered by knowledge: 46% of respondents who Googled their symptoms felt more confident speaking with their doctor about treatment options afterwards. One-quarter did not feel a need to visit a doctor after researching online.

55% use online information to self-diagnose: More than half of UK respondents use online information for self-diagnostic purposes. However, they are cautious about which sources they trust.

Only 30% of respondents would trust the information provided by health apps like Ada or Babylon. On the other hand, 82% would trust hospitals and clinics, 78% would trust medical specialists and 74% would trust health insurance companies.

58% prefer insurance companies as health app providers over start-ups and large tech providers: In Austria, Germany and Switzerland, six in 10 respondents would prefer to use a health app provided by health insurance companies. Only 15% would prefer to use an app provided by one of the large technology providers (like Apple, Amazon or Google), and only 12% would prefer a start-up as the app provider. 

74% of UK respondents would trust the NHS as a health app provider: In the UK, almost three-quarters of the respondents would trust the NHS as a health app provider. Interestingly, this confidence has grown following the rollout of the NHS Covid-19 app during the pandemic — showing how quickly people adapt to new technologies. 

So, what should health leaders do?

Take a human-centric, holistic perspective on digital health management and embrace ecosystem innovation.

Health literacy is rising, and people are increasingly managing their own well-being. They want digital resources that support them on this journey. To provide the added value and information people need, firms should collaborate with people’s trusted health information sources – healthcare providers and health insurance companies.

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  • Take a human-centric perspective

    To support people in taking a more proactive approach to their own well-being, companies have to take a new perspective on health. Consider people’s journey from end to end – especially with personal health management and prevention. A holistic, human-centric approach will provide personalised guidance aided by digital tools that empower patients with the right information at each stage of their journey.

    These new digital health services should anticipate people’s needs, not react to them. Partnering prevention programmes with online health practitioners will lead to better outcomes in the long term. The potential rewards for health leaders include increased revenue and a prominent position in the future health ecosystem. Catering for each step of the journey will bring companies closer to people in the long run, even before they might become patients.

  • Identify trusted partners

    The need for trusted resources is a big opportunity for the health industry. It will be crucial to work with customer-facing companies that people trust, such as healthcare providers, health insurance companies and, specifically, the NHS in the UK. In some cases, people may only “consult” one provider as their go-to source of information – and health leaders should plan any new services accordingly. 

  • Embrace Ecosystem Innovation

    No single player can provide all the health services people need. Companies must work together to create digital services that bring true added value to people’s health journeys. To collaborate effectively, health leaders must first be aware of their company’s strengths, limitations and future roles within the ecosystem. They should consider their own position and then identify partners that bring complementary capabilities. Remember that not everyone has direct contact with end-users – but the benefits of this contact can be shared.

    To prepare for effective collaboration, companies should improve their technical, organisational and cultural readiness. This includes using APIs to link software and share data, as well as having an agile mindset and radical innovation methods that help build solutions faster, free of traditional architectural constraints.

  • Human-centric Perspective: 

    Zühlke's interdisciplinary approach combines efficient and agile software development, user-centric healthcare app design and machine learning skills. This helps companies design a human-centric healthcare journey, providing personalised and relevant digital health services that empower patients with the right information at each stage. It also helps cater to a diverse population - including non-digital natives.

    Embrace Ecposystem Innovation: 

    Zühlke plays an instrumental role at the centre of the digital health ecosystem, ensuring that health apps are developed according to the highest security and privacy standards, and bringing prototypes to an industrial scale. Zühlke can support health companies developing new solutions in collaborating with trusted ecosystem players, like healthcare providers and insurers, to create digital services and products that add real value and align with user needs.

    Technical, Organisational and Cultural Readiness: 

    Zühlke guides companies in improving their readiness. This is achieved by  leveraging APIs, secure data platforms, and agile innovation methods, to deliver solutions rapidly, not limited by traditional architectural constraints, and compliant with medical standards such as IEC 62366, IEC 62304 and ISO 13485. 

    Learn more about how Zühlke can support pharma companies with digital, data-driven solutions that add value for patients and MedTech companies to modernise their processes and products with the help of digital, data-driven technologies.


There are vast amounts of health-related data out there...

Portrait of a confident woman with friends on urban soccer field
...and people are willing to share it.

People are increasingly tracking many aspects of their health – from movement metrics to sleep patterns. More than half of respondents use activity apps and cite benefits including more movement and better motivation. They are becoming more and more aware of the value of their data – and they’re willing to share it in the right circumstances.

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Once again, young people show the most enthusiasm for taking ownership of their health. While 55% of all respondents monitor their health in some way, 71% of under 40-year-olds are already tracking various wellness metrics. This massive amount of data is potentially insightful but mostly remains siloed, non-standardised and unused in the current health ecosystem.

A huge 81% of respondents would share their data in particular circumstances. Among under-40s, this rises even further to 88%.

•   32% would share if they could choose who has access to the data

•   30% would share if their data was anonymised

•   18% would share it their data helped to advance scientific knowledge

•   17% would share if it helped to improve healthcare for everybody

•   15% would share if it gave them more information about their own health

Less than one in five respondents would not share their data under any circumstances. This shows that the majority of people are open to sharing health information. People are also aware of the potential of their data, only sharing it if they receive something in return.

So, what should health leaders do?

Become a data and AI pioneer:
Users, particularly from younger generations, are becoming more aware of the power of health data. But they also know how valuable it is to third parties – and need to trust that it is managed well. Data and AI pioneers should consider leveraging this power to deliver added value.

  • Follow a clear data strategy that puts people first

    There is an ever-increasing amount of health data out there. But that does not mean that companies can access this easily or that the data is useful. In this situation, companies should focus on the added value for the users. They should think about what data they would need to provide such added value – and how they can use the available data to achieve it. 

    Health leaders need to become experts in handling and managing the growing amount of health data available. Manufacturers should determine what kind of real-world data can be generated for machine learning, AI and advanced analytics – then identify how it can benefit patients. 

    Personalised data isn’t always necessary to gain deep and meaningful insights. But if it is, data protection is mandatory. Data strategies must be transparent about using personal information for AI in healthcare, so companies should communicate clearly why and how they are using it and what people get in return. In the near future, blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies may provide a solution for managing consent levels.

  • Leverage data and insights together with others

    More data sources don’t just provide more data – they also allow for different interpretations of data. This enables companies to create additional added value. Companies should adopt a collaborative approach that will encourage data sharing across more partners. This is already starting to happen through initiatives such as the European Health Data Space.

    To prepare, health leaders should start using data to make strategic decisions. They can start with data that’s already inside their organisation. These can be the first steps in creating advanced data and AI solutions technologies that enable the analysis of large, distributed datasets.

    At the same time, companies should create APIs and think about data cleanrooms or Digital Health Platforms that help to collaborate with others.

  • Machine Learning: 

    Zühlke assists in every step of the machine learning journey, from identifying valuable use cases to developing ML algorithms. This ensures responsible AI use and establishes efficient ML operations.

    Data Platforms & Engineering: 

    Zühlke designs and builds reliable, scalable data platforms tailored to your organisation's needs. We provide efficient data pipeline implementation and maintenance, ensuring adherence to data governance, compliance, and security requirements.

    Data-Driven Business Transformation: 

    Zühlke supports you in developing your data transformation strategy, implementing the necessary data governance and organisational structures to succeed.

    Data Ecosystems: 

    Zühlke enables the creation of an effective data ecosystem. This facilitates real-time, unbiased data availability, shared parameters for data handling, and clear governance rules that ensure transparency and trust across organisations.

    Learn more about how Zühlke can support you in solving complex challenges and creating new opportunities with data and AI solutions.


People expect digital health services to be free...

Portrait of woman with senior mother resting after exercise outdoors. companies must get creative with their business models.

People are looking for more information and new services – but they expect these digital health resources to be free. Even with younger generations being more willing to pay for digital health services in the right circumstances, health leaders must provide genuine added value and communicate it effectively to monetise digital health services.

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Most respondents said they would not pay for a health app. However, this value is reduced to 34% if we look at the under-40s – so there is an opportunity for direct-to-consumer solutions. 

Only 34% of respondents indicated they would consider paying a monthly fee for a health app, with 27% willing to pay up to 10 EUR/CHF/GBP. Younger people are more likely to pay, with 32% of under 40s saying they would pay over 20 EUR/CHF/GBP per month for a health app. While this growing trend may increase in future, it will not be easy to monetise now.

People will use health apps if paid for by a healthcare provider or other payer. Six in 10 UK respondents would use a health app if the NHS provided it on prescription, for example. This finding mirrors Switzerland and Austria, where 61% said they would use a prescribed app. Patients would most likely use such apps to manage mental health and sleep disorders. In Germany, 28% of respondents did know about digital health apps on prescription (“Digitale Gesundheitsapplikationen” or “DiGAs”), highlighting an even greater potential audience for services on prescription.

So, what should health leaders do?

Identify a business model for digital health:
Monetising digital health services is an ongoing challenge. Our survey shows that most people will not consider subscribing to a paid health app, for example. However, most would use an app paid for by a healthcare provider. Health leaders should look at creative and unique ways to achieve a positive ROI for their digital health services.

  • Focus on the added value in direct-to-consumer solutions

    Even if people expect new solutions to be free, it’s not impossible to establish affiliate programmes, commission fees or subscription models for digital health solutions. However, to do so, these solutions must provide added value to the customers that they don’t get for free – and it is essential to communicate this added value clearly. In addition, companies should accept that there may be a narrow target market.

  • Use reimbursement opportunities

    Health leaders should consider new opportunities for reimbursement. Germany is taking a leading role with the DiGAs (digital health applications) legislation, with similar models planned in other countries. For health companies, legislation like this offers a huge opportunity to create new revenue streams. However, this requires expertise in the respective legislation and a short time-to-market. Companies should team up with the right partners to leverage such opportunities.

  • Consider cost-savings as a business case

    Besides direct revenue – be it by reimbursement, income or cost savings – digital health solutions can positively affect health companies. For example, companion apps can make products more attractive and increase market share. Beyond that, providing real added value with innovative solutions can be an opportunity to earn people’s trust – something that’s incredibly valuable in a more holistic, human-centric health system.

  • Consider the whole impact of a digital health solution

    Besides direct revenue – be it by reimbursement, income or cost savings – digital health solutions can positively affect health companies. For example, companion apps can make products more attractive and increase market share. Beyond that, providing real added value with innovative solutions can be an opportunity to earn people’s trust – something that’s incredibly valuable in a more holistic, human-centric health system.

  • Clarifying and Aligning Goals:  

    Zühlke provides clarity and direction for digital health aspirations. This helps align strategic objectives with customer needs and identify potential opportunities to innovate and grow in the digital health market.

    Transforming and Scaling Operations: 

    By designing strategic transformation plans and optimising scalability with modern technology, Zühlke equips health companies with the tools to effectively reduce costs, increase innovation, and swiftly generate value with new digital business models.

    Validating and Prioritising Initiatives: 

    Zühlke assists in validating new business opportunities in the digital health sector, providing guidance on focus areas and offering effective tools for investment forecasting and hypothesis testing.

    Find out more about how Zühlke can support you to ensure your digitisation programme and innovation initiatives deliver lasting strategic value.

About the Digital Health Study 2023

  • The respondents were representative of the general population in each country.
  • Our questions aimed to learn what patients want, their experience of healthcare and digital health services to date, and what they want in the future.
  • The ‘Zühlke Health Study 2023’ took place online in April and May 2023, with all respondents aged over 18.
  • The study consulted 3,200 Participants:
    • Austria: 600 participants
    • Switzerland: 600 participants
    • Germany: 1,000 participants
    • UK: 1,000 participants
two employees working on a screen on data
Contact person for Germany

Jürgen Pronebner

Regional Managing Director Health Industry (a.i.), EMEA & Partner

As one of the first employees at Zühlke Germany, Jürgen Pronebner has helped to shape the Zühlke journey. Currently he acts as Regional Managing Director Health Industry (a.i.), EMEA. He is a Member of the Zühlke Ventures Advisory Board and a long-time Partner in the Zühlke Group.

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Contact person for Switzerland

Philipp Tholen

Head of Health
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Albert Frömel Zühlke
Contact person for Austria

Albert Frömel

Industry Lead Health & Life Sciences

Together with his team, Albert Frömel helps his clients improve health outcomes for patients, modernise work environments, and future-proof business models. As a Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry Lead in Austria, he helps find solutions to key digital challenges. He has years of experience working with leading national and international healthcare organisations.

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Kevin Murray
Contact person for United Kingdom

Kevin Murray

Director Solution Center
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Jim Lim
Contact person for Singapore

Jim Lim

Head of Health Industry Singapore

With more than 25 years of ICT industry experience, Jim brings a wealth of experience providing business and strategic advice to clients regionally. Having held various leadership positions across enterprises, Jim was also the founding CEO of Good Doctor Technology. Jim has worked with clients across multiple industry verticals, including healthcare and pharmaceutical. As Head of Health Industry Singapore, Jim will expand Zühlke’s healthcare expertise and offerings to healthcare and pharmaceutical companies in Singapore. 

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