In America, smartphones have become the important factor, which transforms the way how people manage their health habits; especially people, who have chronic conditions or the severe health needs.
A survey proposes that some of the app makers are falling short on many counts when it comes to the aspect of actually serving people who could get the most benefits from the mobile health or mHealth apps.
The research was conducted by a team who belongs to a University of Michigan Medical School, a mobile health researcher. This team publishes their findings in the new issue of health affairs. This survey was based on the comprehensive review of the most rated or highly recommended mHealth apps, which are aimed at the people who have high health needs. People who are in need of high health needs have high health costs and people who have low income and low level of health knowledge has to be given more care. They only the best apps from Google play Store and Apple App Store, which are aimed at people with high health needs.
People who have low income can’t manage high health costs and they require special care to be given. But it was found that the best apps for such people are found less.
From The Survey:
- People with diabetes and depression condition can find a large number of highly rated apps, which offers great help to the people. People with other conditions like pain or arthritis will find only a few options when they search for high-quality apps.
- App Store ratings, other users usage are not always the stable guide when selecting the high rated apps. During the survey, the researchers found that physicians and non-physicians rated the apps much higher or lower than the app store ratings, based on how the apps will be useful for the actual patients.
- Most of the mHealth apps require users to enter their health condition and its related information on their phone such as blood sugar level, blood pressure level when they feel they are not normal. Among 121 apps, only 38 apps reacted aptly when the reviewers entered a false value. The app showed the result like very high blood pressure, super-low blood sugar level, etc.
- The results of the apps were somewhat appropriate when it was aimed at the certain population. Half of the people in the list were aimed at asthma or stroke patients and some of the aims are aimed for the old and elder people. Apps, which focus on elder people, provide more acute results and they responded correctly to the false values entered by the users.
- Most of the apps offered tracking functions, education, alerts and, reminders that could be useful to the high need and, high-cost population. Few apps provided guidance based on what the user entered into their tracking interface or they have offered ongoing engagement, which in turn produced good results.
- Most of the apps encourage users to share their information with others. But during the research, researchers have found that this was done through insecure methods. Some of the apps allowed sharing of information by email and 17% of the apps allowed text-message sharing. After the launch of Apple and Google options for secure sharing of health information, the apps were tested. Only one app allowed the users to share the data directly with the electronic health record, this is the record that their team uses.
- The number of mHealth apps is rapidly growing at an increasing rate. And many people have started to switch over to smartphones. But the question is to what extent the apps are serving to meet the requirements or needs of the patients with chronic disorders and their caretakers. And the apps should be opposed to generally healthy people who are seeking help with their wellness.
mHealth apps helps most needed customers
The ratings given by the physician and the normal people differs, physicians rate the app based on how the app is useful to the normal people, Whereas, normal people rate the app based on how the app satisfies their needs. The work will not get over once the users have rated the app. Moving forward, people should rate the apps, based on how they will benefit the physicians and organizations, which will provide clinical guidelines and will start recommending them to the patients.
The team focused on the apps, which were developed to meet the needs of the people who are suffering from asthma, arthritis, diabetes, depression, lung disease, kidney disease, heart failure, liver disease, and addiction to alcohol, drugs or tobacco. They have also looked for the apps, which helps the people who have survived from a stroke, battled cancer, diagnosed with dementia or memory loss or for the ones who are with obesity or living with pain.
The “high need” and “high cost” patients often face economic and social barriers related to health care and they also have complex health needs, which are seen as a key group for mHealth apps.
There are about 165,000 mHealth applications. Many of the apps help people to keep track of their health condition day-by-day. People can do home-testing, medication and they can share information electronically with their care teams and get encouragements and education between the doctor’s appointments. Basically, this could help the patients to solve their long-term problems and avoid emergencies. And they can also reduce the high cost of the treatment.
The researchers request the app developers to have better-alerting techniques about the dangerous levels and they should provide the patients the best course of action such as they can call people for help when they can’t bare the pain or alerting their key contacts when their blood sugar level is relatively low and when they are at a risk of passing out.
Users want the mHealth apps to be passive observers? Or even more from them. And reshape themselves after the crises with the special plans. The direct advice to the patient is something lacking in the mHealth apps.
Apps are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, which can respond to all the misleading claims, the Civil rights sector from the Department of Health and Human Services, which deals with the compliance of health privacy laws, Food, and drug administration. It can remove the mHealth apps from the app store if required but it doesn’t have to review most mHealth apps before they are made available in the market.
Clinicians also need to modify and adapt their thinking to the new era of mHealth apps. Most of the clinicians think apps in a way they think of paper and pen. A patient enters health information in an app, the information has to be tracked, the app then communicates the health information with their health providers and then they will confirm their appointment.
The information entered into the app is important and they have the given safe and special care. They should be dealt in the right way. Users have great hope on the mHealth apps and it is the duty of the apps to fulfill the customer’s needs.
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