I suspect the news my smartphone will soon turn into my doctor is exaggerated. While a consultation with my phone will always be easier to arrange than an appointment with my GP, I know for a fact that even the techiest among us still want to see a living, breathing, qualified person when they’re under the weather.
I say this with confidence as this is one of the key findings from the first ever mHealth report by Ruder Finn. The report, based on a survey of more than 1,000 smartphone and tablet users, shows that while there’s an appetite for healthcare applications, and consumers generally love a good app, developers of health applications have not convinced the public of this kind of app’s value to them. The survey’s results show that apps for social media, games and news are the most popular with users of smartphones and tablets; healthy living apps languish in last place in terms of popularity.
The survey, conducted on our behalf by pollster YouGov, reveals some interesting links between type of device and the likelihood of the user to use health & lifestyle apps. The research suggests apps that help take away some of the pain associated with healthcare – booking appointments and getting hold of test results for example – are more popular than those to actually manage health. Our results suggested a great deal of caution around apps to help patients manage long term health conditions – significantly even among those suffering from chronic disease/ health problems. These findings may come as a disappointment to the World Health Organization, which along with The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is launching an mHealth initiative to help combat noncommunicable diseases, based on the fact that mHealth is cost effective, scalable and sustainable.
In our survey, there is a difference between the generations and the impact that might have on app usage. While 75% of respondents between 25-34 owned a smartphone fewer than 30% in the 55+ category did. Although everyone accesses healthcare it’s usually the oldest among us who use it most. It will be interesting to see how usage patterns change as the gamers and Tweeters of today get older.
This presentation also contains slides from Prof. Christopher James
Professor of Healthcare Technology (University of Warwick) and
Director, Institute of Digital Healthcare; Dr Tom Barber
Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant Endocrinologist,
University of Warwick and UHCW NHS Trust and Owen Booth
Head of Content, Diabetes UK.
The event can be seen at the hashtag #rfmhealth too.