Connecting for Health: Using Mobile Health to Track Health and Well-being

Blog post by Poonam Khanna

My smartphone is generally never too far away from me — and in fact, if it is, I feel like something is missing. So it’s the perfect device to help me track the number of steps I take everyday, a metric I check in on at least once a day, if not more. It prompts me, sometimes, to go for a walk if I’m just shy of my daily goal, and gives me something to be proud of on those days when I more than surpass it.

I use my cell phone to stay in touch with friends and family, keep up with the news, compose grocery lists and make sure I don’t miss appointments. It makes sense, then, that I also turn to it to track my health and well-being. I’m not alone. According to a recent study funded by Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) and conducted in partnership with HEC Montréal and CEFRIO, 32 per cent of Canadians use mobile apps to track their health. Another 24 per cent own at least one connected object, such as a smartwatch or bracelet, that captures data on their health and well-being.

While almost a third of Canadians use mobile health apps to track their health, only 28 per cent of Canadians who self-identified as being in poor health use either a mobile health app or smart connected device to track their health. When those with poor health do use mobile health apps, or connected devices, to track their health, it can make a real difference to their quality of life. In fact, it can mean fewer trips to the emergency department for those in telehomecare programs who use connected devices to track their vital signs (such as heartrate) from the comfort of their home while also receiving coaching advice from a nurse. This, and other interesting findings from the study, will be up for discussion during the Digital Health Week #HCLDR tweet chat on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 8:30 p.m. ET (for your local time click here).

I can’t think of a better way to mark Canada’s Digital Health Week, a celebration of how digital health is transforming health care, than by discussing how mobile health can empower people to take charge of their health. I hope you can join me and my colleague Chad Leaver (@chadnandrew), Infoway’s resident expert on the study, for a discussion on mobile health:

  • T1 32% of Cdns use #mhealth apps to track their health & well-being. Do you? Why or why not?
  • T2 Only 28% of Cdns with poor health use #mhealth apps or smart connected devices to track their health. How can we improve this?
  • T3 Would you be more likely to use a health app if your doctor prescribed it or recommended it? Should they?
  • T4 #mhealth apps have a high abandonment rate after 6 months of use. How can app developers improve this?

To lean more about the study, please read the Infoway blog post series on the findings and visit www.BetterHealthTogether.ca/digital-health-week to learn about the many other events taking place during Digital Health Week.

References

Diffusion of Smart Devices for Health in Canada – Final Report, Canada Health Infoway, HEC Montréal and CEFRIO, Sept. 18, 2017. https://www.infoway-inforoute.ca/en/component/edocman/resources/reports/benefits-evaluation/3366-the-diffusion-of-smart-devices-for-health-in-canada-study-final-report

Canadians’ Use of Mobile Health Apps and Connected Devices to Support Health and Well-being Gaining Momentum, Chad Leaver, Sept. 19, 2017. https://www.infoway-inforoute.ca/en/what-we-do/blog/consumer-health/7596-canadians-use-of-mobile-health-apps-and-connected-devices-to-support-health-and-well-being-gaining-momentum

One Quarter of Canadians Using Connected Objects to Track their Health and Well-being, Claire Bourget, Sept. 26, 2017. https://www.infoway-inforoute.ca/en/what-we-do/blog/consumer-health/7601-one-quarter-of-canadians-using-connected-objects-to-track-their-health-and-well-being

Telehomecare: Remote Data Monitoring Can Promote Self-Management of Health, Heather Pezzola, Oct. 31, 2017. https://www.infoway-inforoute.ca/en/what-we-do/blog/telehomecare/7631-telehomecare-remote-data-monitoring-can-promote-self-management-of-health

Image Credit

Social Media App Icons On The Screen of A Smartphone – Mike MacKenzie https://flic.kr/p/XaYGXv

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