A recent study designed by New York University and published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research exposed the consumer perspective of health app use in the U.S. More than 1,600 mobile phone users were surveyed, assessing sociodemographic characteristics, health app history and reasons for use and the status of their overall health.
Consumers want access to health records and physicians, to “more accurately communicate and monitor their health.” But product sophistication and an accurate understanding of consumer profiles limit capability.
More than half of mobile users have downloaded mobile health apps, with the majority seeking fitness and nutrition goals. However, while mobile health app usage is extensive throughout the population and increasing in popularity, there are a vast number of people not engaged. Even more stop using them.
One of the biggest survery trends was improved communication with healthcare providers; 57 percent of respondents were interested in apps capable of making an appointment or directly connecting to physicians. More than 60 percent wanted an app to access their medical records.
“The potential in this use of apps is great, and healthcare systems must embrace this technology and work through privacy and regulatory barriers to supply the services that patients are already requesting,” the report states.
One major barrier is that healthcare professionals aren’t involved with the design of the majority of health apps. In fact, 1/5 of health apps merely provide information with limited functionality. Also the data revealed app developers need to enforce clinical trials to test effectiveness, which will expand the appeal and reach. Additionally, there need to be cost reductions – a major consumer concern.