Health IT, Patient Engagement

Vendor: People don’t use health apps until they get sick

So many health apps, so few users, unless they’re sick. But, hey — surprise — HealthMine has the perfect wellness program for those who do use apps.

So many mobile apps, so few actual users.

Back in March 2013, Research2Guidance counted in the neighborhood of 100,000 health, fitness and wellness apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play. That number almost certainly has increased since then.

Today, consumer health engagement company HealthMine said that while 64 percent of Americans own smartphones, just 18 percent of the general population enjoy learning health, wellness and lifestyle information via mobile apps. That’s based on a survey of 1,200 people by the Dallas-based company.

And then comes the money quote from the HealthMine press release: “Mobile health is still far from broad engagement—unless you are sick.” That’s because another HealthMine survey of 509 people with diabetes or pre-diabetes from August found that 42 percent manage their condition with mobile blood-sugar monitors, while 39 percent use mobile monitors for blood pressure.

“Many people do not engage in health until they are sick. But taking action then can be too little too late,” HealthMine CEO and President Bryce Williams said in a press release. “Today, people can be constantly connected to their health, but they are not.”

And now we get to the part that shows why we always take vendor-sponsored surveys with several grains of salt: the veiled self-serving pitch. “Mobile devices and applications, when integrated tightly into a wellness program, can actually help prevent chronic disease,” Williams added.

Still, there is some good information to be gleaned from this survey. Yet another HealthMine consumer poll from the spring indicated that 83 percent of people do not know their blood-glucose level. “The cost of ignorance about diabetes is colossal,” the company said, citing American Diabetes Association research that pegged the tab at $322 billion annually. That’s more than $1,000 a year for each resident of the United States.