Do you have a chronic health issue, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, or asthma?
There’s a good chance there’s an app for it.
According to Dr. David Bates, chief of internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and an internationally renowned expert in patient safety and health care technology, health apps are becoming increasingly sophisticated, offering smartphone users assistance in dealing with chronic ailments.
“It varies quite a bit every app,” Bates said in an interview with HealthDay Now. “But some of the apps have been proved to result in advantages.” “Some weight reduction applications actually assist people in losing weight. Similarly, some diabetes applications can assist you in better controlling your [blood] sugar.”
Unfortunately, given the bewildering array of apps available to the typical individual, determining which app is best can be difficult.
More than 90,000 new health apps will be available on the Apple and Google app stores in 2020 alone.
“There are many hundred thousand on the market,” Bates added, “which is just befuddling as a patient.” According to a recent HealthDay/Harris Poll survey, many people with chronic conditions aren’t taking advantage of these new tools.
According to the report, over 61 percent of people suffering from a chronic ailment use some form of health app, but only 14 percent use an app especially aimed toward managing or tracking their specific health problem.
According to the poll results, one-third of persons with chronic illnesses said they don’t use an app because they don’t feel the need to continually watch their health. In addition, a quarter of persons with chronic illnesses expressed concern about the privacy and security of medical information shared with the app. Around 17 percent claimed they couldn’t afford health applications, while 14 percent felt they were too complicated.
Similar findings were discovered in Bates’ own research into the use of health apps.
“They’re quite general use among a number of age groups,” Bates said, “but they’re particularly popular among young and tech aware folks.” Here’s the complete interview:
Bates cited recent research with people who were either illiterate or had limited education. “Everyone wanted to be able to use the apps,” he added, “but many people struggled with even simple activities, such as entering blood sugar [numbers] as a diabetic.”
People’s aversion to health apps is fueled by concerns about their privacy.
“Information concerns are real, and the applications aren’t doing as well as they should in terms of preserving our privacy,” Bates said. “That is something we must continue to concentrate on. Much of this data isn’t particularly private, but some of it is.”
People looking for a health app should be aware that app store ratings “aren’t always a particularly good indication of how helpful the app is going to be for you,” according to Bates.
Bates and his colleagues propose that an unbiased third party begin assessing health applications so that customers can obtain high-quality items that meet their needs.
“We need to do something to reduce the number of options available, since when there are so many, people often can’t decide. It’s too difficult, “Bates remarked.
He felt that limiting the quantity would be really beneficial. “In England, for example, there are roughly 60 apps that are endorsed and marketed on a national level. There’s a lot of competition to join that group, but it makes it a lot easier to figure out which ones are important to you “He went on to clarify.
Apps are becoming increasingly more significant with the introduction of telemedicine, according to Bates.
During a telemedicine session, patients are frequently required to take their own vital signs and track their own health data in order to submit their findings to their doctor.
“Typically, the patient is given a lot more responsibility to handle things themselves, and an app can really help you out,” Bates said. “It can assist you in keeping track of some of the things you should be keeping track of, such as your daily blood sugar readings or your weekly exercise sessions.”
Bates believes that health professionals will eventually begin to take action “Apps are actually being prescribed. You’ll visit your doctor, who will advise you to use an app. The data will be sent back to them, and they will be able to see how you’re performing. They’ll congratulate you if you’re doing well, and they’ll provide assistance if you’re having trouble.”
But, for the time being, he warns that certain apps have downsides. Bates is particularly concerned that applications aren’t very good at alerting people to life-threatening situations.
“You can tell a lot of apps that your blood sugar is 10, which is dangerously low, and the app won’t necessarily inform you that you need to do something right away,” he added. “I’d want to see the applications do a better job of alerting you if a critical issue arises.”