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Are Medical Apps for You?

Posted by | 1:30pm on Monday, October 4, 2010
girl looking at mobile phone

patient adoption can drive physician adoption 

The adoption of mobile applications (apps) is impressive, especially given that they’ve only been around for two years. In July 2008 there were 500 third-party applications available for iPhone and iPod Touch in the App store. Today there are 250,000.

The question is, who is using them? What audiences are they appropriate for? And more importantly, are they audiences that you want to reach?

A Pew Internet and American Life Project study released last week noted that “having apps and using apps are not synonymous.” According to the study, 35% of adults have cell phones with apps, but only 2/3 of those who have apps actually use them. “Older adult cell phone users in particular do not use the apps that are on their phone.”

Who Is Using Apps?
Overall, the app user population skews male and slightly Hispanic when compared with other adult cell phone users. App users are also younger, more educated, and more affluent.

That’s overall. One segment where apps are generating strong interest is in health care. A Price Waterhouse study found that 56% of health consumers like the idea of remote care and 41% would prefer to have more of their care via mobile.

Healthcare Unwired, the Price Waterhouse report, is worth taking a look at in depth, because it contains some surprising insights. For example:

  • Although women make most healthcare decisions for their families, men are twice as likely as women to get health reminders on their phones.
  • Of physicians who use mobile devices in their practices, 56% said the devices expedite their decision making and 36% said the devices increase collaboration among physicians.

Currently healthcare apps are being used for everything from medication reminders to boost adherence to remote monitoring of health metrics like weight, blood sugar and blood pressure between doctor visits.

Apps and Rare Disorders
But do mobile apps have a place in the world of rare disorders? Shire thinks so. They created a mobile app for patients with Gaucher disease that allows them to track bone pain, haemoglobin levels, liver volume, platelet count, and spleen volume and report this information at their doctor visits. The app also connects patients to dedicated case managers who streamline insurance coverage issues.

Shire chose to start with patients because they’re a highly motivated, tight-knit community. The lesson to be learned is that, especially in small disease populations, patient adoption can drive physician adoption. In helping patients and doctors make informed decisions, these tools may also create allegiance to a particular therapy.

I’ll be writing again soon on the topic of the FDA monitoring mobile healthcare apps.

This post was contributed by Pamela Todd, Content Strategist at Siren Interactive.

(Image courtesy of rayand on Flickr)

About Pamela Todd

Pam’s extensive work in online intelligence, competitive analysis and audits allows her to provide clients with insights into their audiences’ needs and preferences. She puts those insights to work in creating and implementing user-centric, interactive content strategies to reach targeted patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.

View other posts from Pamela

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