Use of Mobile Health Apps Lags

Relatively few Americans are using them.

Mobile health applications may be the next wonder of the world, but relatively few Americans are using them.
The Washington Post, citing data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, breaks it down this way: While 88 percent of Americans have a cell phone, only 10 percent have downloaded health-related mobile apps. That percentage hasn’t changed since 2010, despite an explosion in the number of available apps -- from 2,993 in February 2010 to 13,619 in April 2012, according to MobiHealthNews.
The good news is that 15 percent of younger cell phone users (18-29) and urban African-American users had health apps on their phone, at least in September 2010, according to a Pew report from November 2011. But that also meant that only 8 percent of cell phone users aged 30-49 -- ages at which health issues are more likely to arise -- downloaded mobile health apps.
A follow-up study conducted in August 2011 found similar results. Not surprisingly, adults 50 and older were least likely to download mobile health apps to their cell phones, the researchers found.
Part of the reason might be the type of health apps available, MobiHealthNews editor Brian Dolan told the newspaper.
 “(A) persistent trend is that the majority of these apps are focused on tracking fitness or diet -- there are two or three new BMI calculators released every month, for example -- and far fewer are focused on what most people would consider true health problems, like chronic conditions or chronic condition management,” Dolan said.