Health Apps

I read an interesting article today talking about new research focusing on smartphone ownership and app usage for healthcare tasks.

You can read the article here:  http://mobihealthnews.com/content/report-40-percent-us-caregivers-smartphones-use-care-related-app

The article states that while 76% of caregivers (read: consumers who provide care for someone else) in US broadband households own a smartphone, only 40% of those use an app to help them with caregiver tasks.

The author points to a variety of reasons (for what she seems to consider low adoption rates…personally I thought these rates were pretty good) but mostly focuses on age disparities and related factors as key reasons for the low adoption rate.

I suspect there are deeper and more telling reasons for this lack of adoption of health apps, and you’d need to look at different data to get to the bottom of it.

For instance, how many people have tried a caregiver app in the past year and have stopped using it?  How long did it take them to stop using it?  A month, two months, a week?

Then, and here’s the telling question, why did they stop?

Was it too difficult to use?  Not intuitive?

Or, more importantly, did they not see any meaningful results from the app?

This is part of the larger question of patient experience in healthcare and something we, as technologists, need to be addressing.

If the technology we produce doesn’t lead to meaningful improvements in one of the Triple Aim categories, we are wasting our efforts, and most importantly wasting the time and efforts of providers and patients.

It would be really interesting to look at this same question of “healthcare apps” but from the stand point of what percentage tried an app (or two, or five, or ten) and gave up on them because they didn’t see any meaningful change as a result of using the app.

It’s all about patient experience (inside and outside of the clinical setting) and effecting meaningful change.