Admit it. You have an app on your phone that helps you monitor your weight, track your diet, or perhaps consult a symptom that’s been bugging you but you don’t want to go to the doctor. With the introduction of several mobile applications that can help us manage our everyday activities, the health sector also made sure that they are being represented in this digital arena. Called digital health management, mobile health apps allow the users to do many things that are related to health and wellness. To date, there are thousands (and counting) of mobile applications to choose from that will suit the users’ personal needs. Every day, thousands (or even millions) are being downloaded by a lot of people for many reasons.
In 2015, Forbes Magazine wrote an article regarding the increase in the number of users that will use mobile health apps in the coming year instead of consulting a doctor for their health problems. The article highlighted the following points:
• Two-thirds of Americans are in favor of digital health management over physical:
○ 79 percent of Americans said they would be willing to use a wearable device to manage their health
○ 45 percent wanted to track of symptoms
○ 43 percent wanted it to manage a personal health issue or condition
• Two-thirds of women would use a mobile app to manage health-related issues.
In the early part of 2017, an article was published in Business 2 Community website projecting the statistics, trends, and analysis of mobile applications. The same projections were presented mentioning the possibilities of a surge in apps download and usage by consumers. The article also presented the results of the 2014-2015 study on the number of hours spent on these apps. Health and fitness applications ranked second to music apps as the most time spent app.
Reasons for the increase in apps usage
Aside from its convenience and accessibility, health apps are most preferred by consumers because it’s cheaper compared to going to a doctor or therapist. With the rising cost of health care nowadays and how much therapy costs it is understandable why a lot of people would consult an app that can tell them why they are having problems with swallowing or difficulty sleeping at night. There are some apps that present a virtual doctor or nurse. You just enter your biometrics and the application is able to determine your whole body system. With a pre-programmed vitals, the virtual doctor or nurse can interpret and even provide a possible medical diagnosis of your reported symptoms.
Others go for reasons of confidentiality and privacy. Although the app requires entering basic information about yourself, your medical problem remains only between you and the app. Preliminary diagnosis sometimes can provide temporary satisfaction and allows the person to relax for a little bit.
A word of caution
My grandfather always tells me “it’s not what it seems”. This same principle can be applied in this situation. Apps are totally in hype right now and they are terribly amazing. As the years’ progress, more apps are developed, intentionally surpassing another and eventually replacing some. Nonetheless a word of caution for these digi-doctors or health apps: do not totally rely upon your health and well-being in these apps. It is always practical and best to consult a professional medical provider whenever you need answers to your health concerns, especially if they are serious. Health apps can serve supplementary health advisors, but they can not replace a true doctor or nurse