Older diabetics want more customization for mHealth apps

Diabetics age 50 and older are interested in using mobile apps as part of their treatment and care, but say the technology should be customized and greater education is necessary regarding data security and privacy protection, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR).

Noting that mHealth apps offer "great potential" to boost diabetes therapy and prevention of secondary diseases, the researchers sought to determine why older patients don't accept mobile health tools as easily as younger peers. They interviewed 32 diabetics who, on average, were 68 years old. Each participant tested two diabetes apps to reveal potential challenges. Of the group, just two diabetics had used a diabetes app and nearly half, 47 percent, were aware of the availability of such apps.

Low enthusiasm was tied to the belief that such apps offer no benefit, a lack of interoperability with other devices and lack of entertainment value, according to the researchers.

However, it's a different scenario for younger diabetics. A recent Makovsky Health/Kelton study reveals that roughly two-thirds of responding Americans are enthusiastic about tapping digital tools for managing personal health. The study notes "stark differences" between Millennials and those 66 and older when it comes to apps, with Millennials more than twice as likely to use the tools.

For the JMIR study, patients said the apps they tested lacked important personal functions and also included unnecessary functions.

"A lack of additional benefits and ease of use emerged as the key factors for the acceptance of diabetes apps among patients age 50 or older," the study's authors said. "A helpful diabetes app should be individually adaptable. Personal contact persons, especially during the initial phase of use, are of utmost importance to reduce the fear of data loss or erroneous data input, and to raise acceptance among this target group."

For more information:
- here's the JMIR study

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