Diverse array of patient populations show interest in health apps

More than one third of mobile phone users with chronic conditions are already leveraging healthcare apps, while 86 percent are interested in using apps to boost their personal health, a recent study finds.

Nutrition, exercise and general information on medical conditions are the top interests by users, according to the report, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The researchers polled mobile phone use among patients at the Los Angeles County and University of Southern California resident primary care clinics; a majority of patients were of lower socioeconomic status.

"Given that cultural, educational and socioeconomic disparities strongly correlate with higher rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, access to culturally relevant mobile health tools may help both patients and providers with management of these conditions," the researchers say. The report also finds that primary care patients in lower socioeconomic status use smartphones and mobile apps to a "great extent."

The findings are the latest indicator of how mHealth apps are growing more popular with consumers and providers. A Mayo Clinic research trial revealed a smartphone app and Web-based portal helped patients lose four times as much weight compared to traditional cardiac rehab approaches, and Target's new "Connected Care" initiative is focused on smartphone users wanting access to medical-grade health assessment tools such as blood pressure checks.

The JMIR research notes that 25 percent of patients polled regarding app use endorsed mHealth apps, which is higher than the 19 percent national average.

"Given this comparable usage of mobile internet technology by these groups, further development of culturally and linguistically relevant mobile health apps should be pursued," the researchers write.

For more information:
- read the research paper

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