- Smartphone users seem to have a high regard for mobile health apps, especially those focused on providing diet and fitness support. A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research shows that 58 percent of surveyed mobile phone users have downloaded at least one mobile health app onto their device.
Out of more than 1,600 smartphone users polled, it was discovered that exercise and nutrition were the most likely areas of mobile health apps downloaded. The respondents who did not use mobile health apps cited their “lack of interest,” prices of the applications, and security concerns regarding data collection.
The survey was conducted in June 2015 and included 36 questions about sociodemographic background, reasons for using health apps, the amount of trust put toward these products, potential reasons for no longer using the apps, and general health background questions.
The research study uncovered some interesting demographics of the mHealth users, which app developers may need to consider when creating these products in the future. The typical user is younger, well-educated, has a higher income, a large body-mass index, and is often Latino or Hispanic.
The most commonly used mobile phones were sold by either Apple or Samsung with AT&T as the most popular service provider followed directly by Verizon.
The researchers discovered that the smartphone users had high trust in the accuracy of these applications. Additionally, 45 percent of respondents stated they had stopped utilizing some mobile health apps due to data entry burdens and high costs.
The findings from this study illustrate that mHealth app developers will need to consider some of the consumer concerns regarding the products such as excessive data entry requirements and the associated costs.
With more than 40 percent of the population still staying away from mHealth apps and many others stopping the use of these platforms, developers and entrepreneurs will likely need to incorporate the consumer experience in pilot programs or other designs before bringing a product to market.
“This research suggests that critical problems remain for the future of health apps. At present, apps are concentrated in the activity and weight-loss domain, which may limit perceptions of their utility for large portions of the population. Pricing and data entry problems also emerged as important concerns,” the study authors wrote.
“App development by for-profit companies is a primary pathway for creating innovative products, but companies need to better respond to these user barriers in order for these products to reach a broader population. For health care systems, significant interest exists among users for communicating with doctors and using apps to seek health care-related services. The potential in this use of apps is great, and health care systems must embrace this technology and work through privacy and regulatory barriers to supply the services that patients are already requesting.”
While this study does find that not all mobile phone users are jumping on the mHealth bandwagon, the market for mobile health apps did grow tremendously over the last five years, mHealthIntelligence.com reported.
When compared to 2010, the mHealth app market rose by more than $400 million. In fact, medical apps grew faster than the rest of the segments within the mobile app space. Additionally, the number of physicians using medical apps has grown from 50 percent in 2010 to 70 percent this past year.
“In terms of revenue, medical apps have grown a tad bit faster than other app categories,” Publisher of Kalorama Information Bruce Carlson stated in a press release. “Price and a willing user base are factors.”
As the mobile health field continues to show promise for the healthcare industry, app developers will need to address consumer needs in order to continue delivering quality products.