28.11.2013

30% of the U.S. population use mHealth applications

30% of the U.S. population use mHealth applications

Foto: Intel Free Press

In an earlier article I pointed out that the mHealth industry is in the middle of a boom period due to the increasing adoption of smartphones and a growing interest among people in looking out for their health. As a consequence, investors are entering this market and there are more and more innovative initiatives.

Well, the last surveys show that the upward tendency of the mHealth market will continue. In the U.S. alone, more than 95 million adults use their smartphone to obtain information about their health status. This interesting figure, which represents close to 30% of the total population, comes from a study with the title Cybercitizen Health US which was elaborated by Manhattan Research, a firm that specializes in health and pharmaceutical research. Last year, that same figure was only 75 million, which means an annual growth of 27%.

From the more than eight thousand people questioned, 38% declared that their smartphone is an essential means for finding medical or health related information. The people who are most interested in this type of information, are those suffering some kind of medical condition, especially those with kidney diseases, acne, hepatitis C, migraine, anxiety, bipolar disorders and growth hormone related problems.

30% of the U.S. population use mHealth applications

Photo: Juhan Sonin

Another study, though a few months older, confirming the growing interest in self-monitoring one’s health in the U.S. is the one by Pew Research, which reveals that 69% of the americans carry out this kind of activity. Another interesting figure is that 60% self-monitors their weight, diet or the amount of exercise they get and another 12% monitors the health of a family member. The relation of these figures to mHealth originates from the fact that mobile device are frequently used for monitoring and people usually possess a dedicated app for that purpose.

The study also mentions that two thirds of the people monitoring their own health keep the information they obtain to themselves. Meaning they do not share it with anybody – not even their doctor.

But maybe the most revealing figure from this is the study is that 34% confessed that monitoring has caused them to make an important decision about their health, while 40% claimed that monitoring has changed the way they take care of their health or the health of a loved one. This is the first study of this kind conducted by the prestigious firm.

Let us move on to another country, where the practice of self-monitoring health with a mobile device, usually a smartphone, is also growing: The United Kingdom. A study sponsored by Fitbit and executed by the Trajectory Group revealed that almost 50% of the questioned British, who are self monitoring their health, have greatly changed their behavior. 70% of the questioned self-monitor their health, a similar figure to the one revealed in the U.S. by Pew Research.

The situation in the U.S. and U.K. in this field is far from being representative for the rest of the world and these kinds of studies are always somewhat limited by the costs of their elaboration. But they can give us an idea of where the mix of mobile technology and health care is going and the impact this might have on people’s behavior.

We should not forget that mHealth is still in its initial development, even though that does not mean it not creating expectation. On the contrary, it is expected to bring a lot of good news, not only for its users, for example when it comes to prevention, but for humanity in general, including the national public budgets, good parts of which are spent on health care for the population.