Report: mHealth apps primed to hit mainstream this year

This will be the year that mHealth apps hit the mainstream and become as ubiquitous as mobile games, personal time management software and retail shopping apps, according to a new report from Mobiquity.

The study, "Get Mobile, Get Healthy: The Appification of Health and Fitness," reports 70 percent of consumers are using fitness and health monitoring apps on a daily basis and 63 percent plan to expand use over the next five years. The report also reveals 69 percent believe health and fitness tracking is more essential than using a smartphone for social networking and 30 percent describe mHealth app use as more valuable than making or receiving calls.

"From breakfast to bedtime, we can count calories in, calories burned, pounds gained or lost, REM cycles and more. So it's no surprise, and perfectly natural, that we're using these apps with greater frequency. They fit into our lives--with designs, features and prompts that encourage 'stickiness,'" the report's authors write.

The market outlook and adoption prediction comes as vendors push out new products and healthcare providers deploy innovative mHealth initiatives that promise to cut operation costs and boost healthcare services and treatments. A few examples include an emergency room using Glass, a home care agency tapping tablets to improve data sharing and treatment efforts and smarphones being used a teletrauma tools.

"The ubiquity of smartphones combined with awareness of public-health issues like obesity, diabetes and smoking has created the perfect use case for health and fitness apps. Consumers are already primed to use them," the report's authors write. "However, many businesses and healthcare organizations are still trying to figure out the best strategies, technologies and business models for reaching mobile audiences."

Yet there remains a gap between consumer use and integrating it into overall healthcare strategy. The report reveals 60 percent of app users have not shared progress or use of a mHealth app with a health professional, with most stating they hadn't even considered doing so. But one in three said they would be more likely to apps for health and fitness if a doctor recommended it.

That fact indicates a big opportunity for app makers and mHealth device developers as well as the healthcare provider segment.

"For businesses and healthcare organizations, now is the time to get serious about the mobile opportunity," states the report.             

For more information:
- download the report

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