Health Has Gone Mobile

Mobile health apps have hit the mainstream, and many experts believe  they’re poised for immense growth. Currently, a Pew Internet study confirmed there is a widespread use of mobile health, especially smart phones users who account for the largest area of growth and use. Information seeking is the biggest use of mobile health technology; at least half of smartphone users have used their phone to look up health information. In addition to information seeking, there’s an increased use of mobile apps to track and manage health, especially for exercise, diet and weight management. Looking forward, one report projected the mHealth market revenue in 2017 will have grown by 61%.

There’s a particular group of users who are high users of mobile health technology, but not often focused on: caregivers. A recent study found that they are a large group of people- approximately four out of ten individuals are caring for a child and adult with a significant health issue, and most of those caregivers view the internet and mobile technologies as a crucial tool. This group seeks and tracks health information at greater rates than non-caregivers, but don’t seem to use health apps at a greater rate than non-caregivers. In particular, managing medications is a major obstacle for them, but only 2 out of 10 caregivers use mobile health apps to manage medications.

Caregiver’s relatively low adoption rate could be because of the general lack of efficacy and evidence in mobile health technology. Proper regulations or systems to check information must be put in place before mobile health apps can reach their full potential. Assuming developers and other stakeholders are able to build more trust in their products,  it will be interesting to see how they are able to more specifically target certain audiences in need, such as caregivers.

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