FRIDAY, March 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Are you managing a chronic health condition, whether it’s obesity, diabetes, heart disease or asthma?
There’s probably an app for that.
Health apps are increasingly sophisticated, providing smartphone users with help in coping with chronic illnesses, said Dr. patients and healthcare technology.
“It varies a lot from app to app, but some apps have been shown to have benefits,” Bates said during an interview with HealthDay Now. “Some of the weight loss apps really help people lose weight. Similarly, some of the diabetes apps can help you control your [blood] sugar more efficiently.”
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine which app is the best, given the bewildering assortment available to the average person.
In 2020 alone, more than 90,000 new health apps became available on the Apple and Google app stores.
“There are actually several hundred thousand on the market, which is just baffling as a patient,” Bates said. This means that many people with Chronic diseases are not taking advantage of these new tools, according to a recent health day/Harris Poll Survey.
About 61% of people living with a chronic condition said they used some sort of health app, but only 14% said they used an app specifically designed to manage or track their specific health condition, the survey found.
A third of people with a chronic condition said they didn’t bother with an app because they didn’t feel the need to constantly track their health, according to the survey results. And a quarter of people with chronic conditions said they are concerned about the privacy and security of the medical information they share with the app. About 17% said they simply couldn’t afford health apps, and 14% said they found them too complicated.
Bates’ own research on the use of health apps found similar trends.
“There’s reasonably widespread use among a variety of age groups, but they’re especially popular among young people and tech-savvy people,” Bates said. health day now. Here is the full interview below:
Bates pointed to a recent study of people with language barriers or low education. He found that “everyone wanted to be able to use the apps, but many people struggled with even simple tasks, like a diabetic entering your blood sugar [numbers],” he said.
Privacy issues are also part of people’s resistance to health apps.
“Privacy issues are a real concern, and the apps aren’t doing as good a job as they could in terms of protecting our privacy,” Bates said. “That’s something we need to continue to focus on. A lot of this kind of data isn’t that private, but some of it is.”
People looking for a health app should be aware that online ratings in app stores “are not necessarily a very good indicator of app quality for you,” Bates said.
Bates and his colleagues suggested that an independent third party start evaluating health apps, so people can find quality products that meet their needs.
“We have to do something to limit the number of choices because when you have so many options people often can’t choose. It’s too difficult,” Bates said.
Limiting the number somewhat would be really helpful, he suggested. “For example, in England they have around 60 apps which are nationally endorsed and promoted. “, he explained.
With the advent of telemedecineapps become even more important, Bates added.
Patients often have to take their own vital signs and track their own health data, so they can report their findings to their doctor during a telemedicine visit.
“Typically, the patient has a lot more responsibility to manage things on their own, and an app can help you a lot,” Bates said. “It can help you monitor some of the different things you should be monitoring,” like your daily blood sugar levels or your weekly exercise sessions.
Eventually, Bates thinks medical professionals will start “prescribing apps. You will go to your doctor and he will recommend that you use an app. Things will be set up so that the data can come back to them, and they can see how you are doing. If you are well, they will congratulate you, and if you are having a little trouble, they can help you.
But for now, he warns that some apps have downsides. In particular, Bates worries that the apps won’t be effective at notifying people of life-threatening conditions.
“For many applications, you can tell your blood sugar is 10, which is very low, and the app won’t necessarily tell you that you need to do something urgently,” he said. “I wish apps would do a better job for you warn if there is a serious situation.
The National Council on Aging has more information on manage chronic diseases.
SOURCE: David Bates, MD, chief, internal medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston