mHealth still untapped resource for docs

People cite privacy concerns for lack of adoption

For the most part, providers are still wary over the mHealth movement. And this caution just might be preventing them from big care improvement opportunities, say the findings of a new study.

The study, commissioned by mobile professional services firm Mobiquity, finds some 70 percent of consumers use mobile apps every day to track physical activity and calorie intake, but only 40 percent share that information with their doctor.

[See also: mHealth market scales to new heights.]

Privacy concerns and the need for a doctor's recommendation are the two factors hindering the use of mobile and fitness apps for mHealth reasons, say officials with the Boston-based Mobiquity, which produced "Get Mobile, Get Healthy: The Appification of Health and Fitness."

That, officials said, means the healthcare community has to take a more active role in promoting these types of apps and uses.

"Our study shows there's a huge opportunity for medical professionals, pharmaceutical companies and health organizations to use mobile to drive positive behavior change and, as a result, better patient outcomes," said Scott Snyder, Mobiquity's president and chief strategy officer, in a press release. "The gap will be closed by those who design mobile health solutions that are indispensable and laser-focused on users' goals, and that carefully balance data collection with user control and privacy."

[See also: FCC creates mHealth task force.]

The study, conducted between March 5 and 11, focused on 1,000 consumers who use or plan to use health and fitness mobile apps.

According to the study:

  • 34 percent of mobile health and fitness app users say they would use their apps more often if their doctor recommended it
  • 61 percent say privacy concerns are hindering their adoption of mobile apps. Other concerns include time investment (24 percent), uncertainty on how to start (9 percent) and not wanting to know about health issues (6 percent).
  • 73 percent said they are more healthy because they use a smartphone and apps to track health and fitness
  • 53 percent discovered, through an app, that they were eating more calories than they realized
  • 63 percent intend to continue or increase their mobile health tracking over the next five years
  • 55 percent plan to try wearable devices like pedometers, wristbands or smartwatches
  • Using a smartphone to track health and fitness is more important than using the phone for social networking (69 percent), shopping (68 percent), listening to music (60 percent) or even making/receiving phone calls (30 percent).

"We believe 2014 is the year that mobile health will make the leap from early adopters to mainstream," Mobiquity officials said in their introduction to the survey. "The writing is on the wall: from early rumors about a native health-tracking app in the next version of Apple’s iPhone operating system to speculation that Apple will finally launch the much-anticipated iWatch, joining Google, Samsung and Pebble in the race to own the emerging wearables market."

[See also: Realizing the mHealth promise.]

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