Digital health tools used more for 'lifestyle' than disease management, says report

The popularity of health and wellness apps and devices is being fueled more by fitness or activity trackers than clinically-focused tools to help manage chronic conditions.
By Mike Miliard
11:05 AM

Health apps and wellness devices have “exploded in growth,” in recent years but they’re not being used by the people who need them most.

That's according to a HealthMine survey published this week that polled 500 insured consumers and found that 59 percent of them have a chronic health condition. It also found that just 7 percent of those people are using disease management tools – even as 50 percent use a fitness or activity tracker app.

[Also: Different chronic illnesses demand different connected health strategies]

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The survey built off another recent report by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which found that its newly-insured members tend to have higher rates of diabetes, depression and high blood pressure, to name just a few chronic conditions, and visited the ER more frequently than those who'd been insured before the ACA.

Of those consumers polled by HealthMine – many of whom reported conditions such as anxiety, chronic pain, obesity, oral health conditions, heart disease and more – more than half (52 percent) are enrolled in a wellness program; 33 percent got their health device through that program.

Activity trackers and nutrition apps were among the most popular, with roughly half of respondents saying they use those.

But more clinically-focused tools were much lower on the list, including patient portals (22 percent), blood pressure app (19 percent), medication trackers (14 percent), glucose monitors (9 percent) and telemedicine apps (5 percent).

[Also: How many health apps actually matter?]

"Digital health tools have exploded in growth – but more so in the lifestyle management category than in clinical/disease management," said HealthMine CEO Bryce Williams in a statement. "Every member may not benefit from an activity tracker. For these tools to be effective, they must be tailored to individual needs and connect to the individual's bigger picture of health data." 

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
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