Today, Tuesday, July 17, 2012 iHealthBeat is reporting that although the number of mobile health applications has grown dramatically over the past few years, there has not been a corresponding rise in the number of people downloading health apps. Brian Dolan, editor and co-founder of MobiHealthNews, said data show the number of consumer health apps in the Apple Store has increased from 2,993 in February 2010 to 13,619 in April 2012. He noted, "But a persistent trend is that the majority of these apps are focused on tracking fitness or diet ... and far fewer are focused on what most people would consider true health problems, like chronic conditions or chronic condition management." Recent data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicate that about 88% of U.S. residents have a mobile phone and about 50% of those are smartphones. However, only about 10% of smartphone users have downloaded health-related apps, a figure that has remained steady since 2010. Susannah Fox, lead health researcher for the project, said, "We are in a situation where we have the technology and we certainly have the need -- just look at all of the statistics on the rise of obesity and other unhealthy trends." She added, "But what we have not yet seen is an uptick in the percentage of people who are adopting and using these health apps." Lee Ritterband -- director of the behavioral health and technology program at the University of Virginia -- noted that "We know very clearly that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to the range of health issues: People need different things and need to be helped along and prompted given their particular needs" (Butler, Washington Post, 7/16). Current national demographic trends highlight the problems of a one-size-fits-all approach to health and healthcare. First, the aging of the US population is one of the most important demographic trends that will affect the future healthcare system. The currently aging health workforce also raises concerns that many health professionals will retire about the same time that demand for their services is increasing and when the healthcare system has little ability to respond quickly through traditional provider training programs Secondly, the changing racial and ethnic distribution of the population also has substantial implications for the future healthcare system. Disparities in access to care account for part of this difference, in addition to other language, cultural and socio-environmental factors. This has significant implication for providers. Between 2000 and 2020, the percentage of total patient care hours physicians spend with minority patients is projected to rise from approximately 31 percent to 40 percent. So what’s the solution? Firstly you should always get health insurance. Given consumer health IT’s increasing role in clinical care and patients’ self-care and self-management, one potential solution lies in designing health IT that is socioculturally-informed. To Health IT designers though, creating culturally informed consumer health IT can seem daunting. Recently a Culturally-Informed Design Framework has been proposed as a guide to socioculturally conceptualize and personalize four key dimensions of health IT including 1) the technology device/platform, 2) application functionality, 3) technology content/messaging, 4) the user interface. Informing design choices by a deep understanding of the user’s clinical needs and sociocultural factors may be the only way for emerging health IT tools to help the US healthcare system overcome the health challenges that lay before us.
Read more: http://www.springerlink.com/content/2190-7188