mHealth might be the motivation patients are looking for in order to stick to recommended diet, exercise, and wellness guidelines if a poll by the Center for Connected Health holds true among the majority of Americans. With 65% of the 2000 respondents indicating that health tracking devices, apps, or websites could be beneficial for motivating them towards health and fitness goals, the idea of mHealth becoming a major tool for preventative medicine and patient engagement may not be so far off.
“We know that if we give people – young and old – insights into their health and help them understand how lifestyle choices impact quality of life, they feel more accountable, engaged and live a healthier, more active life,” says Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, founder and director, Center for Connected Health. “Integrating ‘self-health’ tools like activity and nutrition trackers and sleep monitors into our daily lives, we can learn from our own behaviors and make positive changes to take charge of our health. We’re taking these devices and apps, personalizing the experience and helping people figure out the right health technologies, the right strategy and the right inspiration to get on the right track to health and wellness.”
Nearly a third of respondents believe that the added accountability of mHealth would help them stay on top of their goals, while just over half of patients between 18 and 44 believe that tracking tools are “essential” to achieving sleep, exercise, and diet targets. Slightly older patients, including 42% of women and 20% of men, added that support from their healthcare provider is also essential. Patients over 55 were more confident in their ability to keep track of their own health compared to their younger counterparts.
While enthusiasm for mHealth is high, the number of patients who had actually taken advantage of a tracking app or device remains relatively low. Fifty-six percent of consumers have never used mHealth or health tracking websites in any form, and only 5% of adults of any age have used a sleep tracking app.
This is likely to change as mHealth takes off as an industry and physicians start prescribing apps as part of their patients’ ongoing health routine. The market could be worth more than $20 billion within the next five years if projections are correct, with vital sign trackers and diabetes management devices leading the way.