By Lisa Zamosky
Want to use your smartphone to help you manage your health? There’s an app for that…or if there isn’t, there likely will be one soon.
Healthcare consumers want the convenience that comes with accessing health information both online and on the go. And healthcare providers, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies see the future potential of mobile apps and other technology-based tools to help you improve your health and possibly lower the cost of delivering care.
Health On the Go
A recent survey by global management consulting firm Accenture found that most people want the ability to conduct common healthcare-related tasks via a mobile device, such as a smartphone.
According to the survey, which was conducted as an online poll of 1,100 U.S. residents, 73% of consumers want to be able to request a prescription refill with the use of their mobile phone.
The convenience of booking, changing, or cancelling a medical appointment by mobile phone was appealing to 68% of those surveyed.
And 63% said they would be open to getting reminders for preventive or follow-up care from their doctor via mobile phone.
The Future Looks App-y
There are already a slew of health-related apps available for consumers, including some from WebMD, that allow you to check your symptoms and access first aid information, monitor your diet, and track how many steps you take in a day. To see a list of the tools you can download to your smartphone right now, check out the iTunes Health and Fitness App Store.
And get ready for insurance companies to increasingly use mobile apps, as well as online games and social media, to encourage you to do a host of things: take better care of your health, use your benefits more efficiently, and entice you to buy their insurance products.
As the Affordable Care Act brings millions of new customers to market starting in 2014, consumers will have more choice than ever about which health plan they choose. People will be shopping on the new insurance markets set up under the law and will no longer be denied a health plan even if they have a pre-existing health condition. Insurance companies are working to demonstrate their value and attract consumers, and making cool mobile apps available to members is just one way they’re doing that.
Pharmaceutical companies are building apps at a rapid pace too, many of which are provided to patients by their doctors.
Today, companies offer apps that help patients track their medication regimens and remind them of upcoming appointments. There are apps to help people with diabetes keep close watch on their diet, or parents stay on top of their children’s vaccination schedules. Apps are also available to help cancer patients keep track of their chemotherapy schedules. And this just begins to scratch the surface of possible applications.
The New York Times just wrote an interesting article about how the near future may have doctors prescribing smartphone apps — as they would other treatments or medications — to patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease as a way of better managing their condition. The idea in the long run is to put technology to work in the service of good health.
Are you app-y? What apps do you have on your smartphone to help you manage your health? Have they helped you meet your health-related goals? Please share your experience in the comments section below.