The great mobile health sham

KEY TAKEAWAY:  There is a HUGE disconnect between what people say they would do and what they would actually do when it comes to mobile health.  Sure, they say that would wear a device to track things like blood pressure but how are they going to use the data and is the data really accurate.

In research people always raise their hands and say “yes, I would definitely wear a device to help me monitor my health” but I have found in real life that there is a huge disconnect between what they say they would do and what they actually would do.

First, let’s remember that the mobile health hype is in overdrive .  There is a lot of VC money out there and the hype is meant to attract that money.  Second, let’s also remember that most people are too damn busy to monitor their health and that even hen they do most physicians don’t trust the data.  Have an app that gives you readings of an EKG?  Good, but your doctor in all likelihood won’t trust the data and will want to run an EKG himself.

Does this mean mobile health is null and void?  No, not at all.  It means that pharma and tech companies need to forge a relationship to develop and clinically test mobile health apps, then share the results with physicians and, more importantly, insurers.  They need to clearly show that patients will use the apps and that by doing so, they will lead to better health outcomes.

The other issue with mobile health is that apps need to be tested with the audience and consistently updated with new information as well as ensuring they work with current mobile operating systems.  That’s a lot of time and money.  We also have to remember that most mobile apps are deleted shortly after they are downloaded because users don’t find them valuable.

Right now, mobile health is an unexplored jungle.  Too many developers are trying to blaze trails, but most patients don’t want to walk on these trails.  Last summer I can still hear Type 2 diabetics telling us, in research, that they didn’t want an app to help them control their diabetes because it would mean “too much work” and being tied to their “smartphones”.

I’m sure that somewhere, someone will break through, but it’s going to take a pharma approach to get the healthcare community to buy in and recommend them to patients.  Mobile health is coming, but marketers have to be able to separate the hype from reality.

 

 

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