Despite the growing popularity of apps dedicated to medical issues, health and fitness, there are many who still think the mobile health market might just be a flash in the pan and soon we’ll all tire of tracking our steps and blood pressure and calorie intake and workouts each day. How exhausting. However, a new US study about the growing interest in mobile health technology has found that 19% of American smartphone owners have at least one health-related app downloaded to their device already and many turn to their mobile devices for all kinds of medical queries and emergencies.
The new research, carried out by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, has found that smartphone users in the US are using their phones to track their health and find out medical advice when they’re on the move. However, it’s not just apps that people are turning to, one in three of those with a cell phone have also used it to look for health information at some point, which according to Mashable is up 17% from a similar survey by the same organisation two years back.
Researchers at the Pew Internet & American Life Project have begun to ask questions about why there’s been an increase and it’s obviously partly to do with the fact more and more of us have smart phones. Over in the US more than 45% of US adults now own a device that lets them to download apps and access the internet on the move, which Pew’s Associate Director Susannah Fox thinks is key, saying that in the past “you had to go find the Internet”, but now “the Internet is with you wherever you are”, so people become used to checking up on things that are important to them, including their health, fitness and any medical issues.
Interestingly when people use their smart phone for health reasons 52% are looking for topics about how to care for friends and family and find the answers for urgent medical problems, whereas others say they turn to apps when they want to make a big health change. So 38% of those with health and fitness apps say they use at least one to track their exercise, 31% use an app to monitor their diet and 12% to manage their weight. Some other apps that were mentioned but are slightly less popular include those that monitor blood pressure, diabetes and track menstrual cycles.
However, it’s not just apps that are being used for health and fitness purposes, texting looks like it could play a key role, with 9% already signing up for services that give you text updates about health and medical issues. It seems reminders are key here, whether it’s to tell you to check your blood pressure or apply more sunscreen.
The study commissioned by Pew Internet & American Life Project polled 3,014 adults in the US.