Ipsos finds doctors remain wary over patient use of health data, but are excited about AI in diagnosis

More than two in three of the physicians Ipsos surveyed globally are excited about the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the future of healthcare, according to the 2023 Ipsos Digital Doctor global survey.

One of the largest surveys of its kind, Ipsos’ Digital Doctor Survey of 3,428 physicians across 20 markets provides a comprehensive overview of digital behaviour and future trends among physicians.

More than two in three (68%) of the physicians we surveyed globally are excited about the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the future of healthcare, with improved accuracy of diagnosis perceived as a key benefit of AI solutions. Eight in ten of the doctors globally believe that digital health can enable patients to more proactively manage their health, but six in ten (58%) are concerned that patients may misinterpret the data from connected health devices. 

  • Only a quarter of the doctors surveyed have recommended a digital therapeutic (DTx) to their patients, with 62% believing that there is not enough training on how to use DTx.
  • Only 35% of the doctors feel knowledgeable about AI.
  • 70% of the doctors agree that remote consultations will improve the environmental impact of the healthcare industry.
  • 69% of the doctors believe that decentralised clinics can increase participant diversity by accessing a wider patient pool; however, 44% cited patient equipment and connectivity issues as the main barriers to telehealth adoption.

2021 Digital Doctor results indicated that, one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors were experiencing an acceleration in the use of digital tools and solutions. In 2023, there is now a need to focus on addressing barriers surrounding emerging popular technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Digital Therapeutics (DTx) to facilitate greater adoption.

Some key themes in 2023 include:

  1. Patient empowerment is central to the increase of connected healthcare solutions (see data 1.1).
  2. A shift in remote engagement points to a new post-pandemic “normal” for telehealth (see data 1.2).
  3. Opportunities exist to drive adoption of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Therapeutics (see data 1.3).
  4. There is a move to an omnichannel reality, requiring a mind shift towards a more consumer centric model (see data 1.4).
  5. There is a drive towards a more sustainable and equitable future via digital solutions (see data 1.5).

Reena Sooch, Head of Digital and Connected Health, Ipsos, said:

We have been running Digital Doctor since 2015 and it is exciting to see the dial move from the perceived possibility of the benefit of technology in health to, now, a reality! Doctors want to use technology in their day-to-day practice, virtual care is happening at scale and there is so much potential for AI and digital therapeutics if we get the infrastructure and reimbursement approaches right.

1.1.    Patient empowerment comes with challenges

There is a high level of agreement (80%) that connected health devices, by providing real-time data, will enable patients to pro-actively manage their health, especially at a time when it is most needed to reduce the strain on healthcare systems. This proactivity, however, garners scepticism amongst physicians who feel that it can lead to the misinterpretation of data by patients (58%) and potential for patients to self-diagnose without physician supervision (52%).

1.2.    Telehealth is here to stay

While the COVID-19 pandemic facilitated increased uptake of digital health solutions, this wave’s findings suggest a new reality for telehealth following a re-adjustment period. The proportion of those currently using telehealth solutions (40%) drops this wave, although this proportion remains significantly higher versus pre-pandemic (28%): a true picture of how things have “adjusted” after COVID-19.

1.3.    Excitement around AI in healthcare, yet scepticism exists for DTx

Two in three physicians (68%) are excited about the future role of AI in healthcare, although a minority (31%) have used AI in the practice within the last 12 months. The main benefits are reported to be improving the efficiency (40%) and accuracy (40%) of diagnosis. However, more important still is the automation of repetitive tasks (45%). Meanwhile, only a minority have prescribed (18%) or recommended (25%) a treatment that can be considered a digital therapeutic. Main concerns are lack of training (62%), lack of efficacy (48%) and lack of clinical evidence (45%).

1.4.    Future medical information needs must be supported by a flexible approach

As lockdowns have eased, use of face-to-face channels to obtain medical information have returned and are popular. A significantly greater proportion of respondents are obtaining information via in-person events hosted by a pharmaceutical representative versus last wave. However, appetite for digital channels remains, and the perceived usefulness of digital channels is high among users, particularly for non-pharmaceutical company websites (89% rated these fairly or very useful). The question remains, how can these channels be leveraged to address healthcare professionals’ complex needs?

1.5.    The digital divide

Although 69% agree that remote consultations will improve the environmental impact of the healthcare industry, only 33% regard positive environmental impact due to decreased travel as one of the main benefits of telehealth, showing more needs to be done to understand the true benefits of telehealth. With regards to patient diversity, the majority (69%) see increased patient diversity by recruitment from a wider pool as a benefit of decentralised clinical trials, and 72% agree that telehealth facilitates greater access to healthcare. But still there are fundamental barriers to overcome, such as broadband issues.

Technical note:

Ipsos conducted an online survey among n=3,427 physicians across 20 markets using SERMO (fieldwork partner). Fieldwork took place between October 6th, 2022 to March 30th, 2023.

Screening criteria ensure that all were:

  • Aged between 25 and 77 years
    • Quotas were set to allow for a mix of doctors in terms of age
  • Between 2-35 years in practice
  • Paeditricians only to have personally recommended/ prescribed/ administered vaccines
  • Neurologists and Oncologists to spend more than 70% in direct patient care (more than 60% in the UK)

Physicians we talked to include:

  • Primary Care Physicians/ General Practitioners/ Family Doctors/ Consulting Physicians (in India)/ Internal Medicine (in Japan and South Korea) in total n= 1,852
  • Paeditricians in total n= 855
  • Oncologists in total n= 361
  • Neurologists in total n= 360

The full breakdown is below:


Markets PCPs Paeditricians Oncologists Neurologists
United Kingdom 100 70 61 60
France 100 70 60 60
Italy 100 70 60 60
Spain 100 71 60 60
Germany 100 70 60 60
United States of America 200 72 60 60
Turkey 100 50    
India 150 50    
China 151 71    
Japan 100 71    
South Korea 50 50    
Vietnam 50 50    
Australia 51 40    
Brazil 100 50    
Belgium 50      
Netherlands 50      
Ireland 50      
Canada 100      
Algeria 100      
Hong Kong S.A.R. 50      

More insights about Health