Could self-tracking lead to mobile hypochondria?

As fast as the tidal wave of mHealth innovations is rising, so too are the complaints about its potential ill effects. Security breaches, distracted doctors, patients gaining access to information they can't understand ... critics' voices are getting louder on a host of fronts.

Here's a new, particularly interesting one: That self-tracking health apps will create the "next generation of hypochondriac patients." mHealth Insight blogger David Doherty tackled this criticism, which he found leveled in a LinkedIn discussion group.

The basic complaint was that a small number of patients--often those with imagined or overestimated symptoms--consume an inordinate amount of health resources. Offering them new tools for "digitized navel gazing" will only increase their hypersensitivity, and their trips to the doctor, a commenter charged.

Doherty fired back that mobile data collection provides far more good than bad to the healthcare industry. And he predicted that while the initial users of mobile self-tracking apps may be "a few demanding early adopters," relatively soon, the technology will be mainstream.

Perhaps the more important point is that those early adopters may bring a much-needed consumer perspective to the healthcare industry, ultimately adding value to the way healthcare is delivered, he said.

"Why do we have to persist with this group think in which the end result will always be 'us' doing more for the patient?" he asked. "Maybe letting go of some of the control will mean 'we' do less and the patients do more."

To learn more:
- check out Doherty's blog post

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