News Feature | May 2, 2014

2014: The Year mHealth Goes Mainstream?

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

mHealth Goes Mainstream

According to a new consumer survey, mobile apps are going to become mainstream in 2014, fueled by consumers who want to monitor their health.

"Get Mobile, Get Healthy: The Appification of Health and Fitness," a new report from Mobiquity, reveals this year will be big for mobile healthcare. “A healthier you is just an app away,” begins the introduction to the survey results. “Over the past 12 to 24 months, the ‘quantified self’ movement has taken off with customers eager to learn more about how their lifestyle impacts their well-being. To investigate further, Mobiquity commissioned independent research firm Research Now to survey 1,000 people in the United States who use, or plan to use, mobile apps to track their health and fitness.”

Fierce Mobile Healthcare reports the study found 70 percent of consumers are using health and fitness monitors on a daily basis and 63 percent of them plan to expand that use in the next five years.

“The market outlook and adoption prediction comes as vendors push out new products and healthcare providers deploy innovative mHealth initiatives that promise to cut operation costs and boost healthcare services and treatments,” write Fierce.

Report authors write, “We believe 2014 is the year that mobile health will make the leap from early adopters to mainstream. The writing is on the wall: from early rumors about a native health-tracking app in the next version of Apple’s iPhone operating system to speculation that Apple will finally launch the much-anticipated iWatch, joining Google, Samsung, and Pebble in the race to own the emerging wearables market.”

Additional findings include:

  • The most popular uses for mobile health and fitness apps are tracking calorie intake and monitoring weight and physical activities. The main perceived benefits of using apps: tracking goals, becoming aware of health issues and motivation.
  • One in three people have stopped turning on a health and fitness app after having used it for some time. The top excuse? “I forget to use it.”
  • Sixty-nine percent say that tracking their health and fitness with their smartphone is or will become more important than using their phone for social networking. Thirty percent even said it was more important than making or receiving phone calls.
  • More than half — 53 percent — of those surveyed discovered that they consumed more calories than they thought after they recorded intake with their health and fitness apps.
  • Twenty-three percent found they took fewer steps than they thought.
  • Sixty percent of health and fitness apps users have not shared their progress, achievements or discoveries with a health professional. The majority claim they never thought about it.
  • Eleven percent thought their doctors wouldn’t take them seriously. But one in three said they’d be more likely to use apps to track their health and fitness if their doctor actually recommended it.

“It may be a while before we are all sporting a smartwatch, but already wearable health and fitness tracking devices are becoming popular.” says the report, “It won’t be long before apps paired with wearables become increasingly mainstream, providing further insights into the quantified self and creating opportunities to impact behavior change.”