Home > Uncategorized > DIY Health is A-OK.

DIY Health is A-OK.

Mobile Health App ImageRecently, Trendwatching.com released its annual list of “12 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2012” and I’m pretty intrigued by item number two: DIY Health.

According to the article, DIY (Do it Yourself) Health is increasing and we can expect to see an influx of apps and devices designed to let consumers track and manage their health by themselves. These devices are feeding off a “never-ending desire among consumers to be in control.” Apple’s App Store currently offers over 9,000 mobile health apps and this number is expected to reach 13,000 by mid-2012. A wide variety of apps are currently available, including nearly 1,500 cardio fitness apps, over 1,300 diet apps, over 1,000 stress and relaxation apps, and over 650 women’s health apps. With the global mobile health market expected to reach USD 4.1 billion by 2014, consumers can expect even more advanced apps all designed to give them the power to confidently control their own health.

As an advocate for anything that encourages consumers to control, manage, and better understand their own health, I think trendwatching’s prediction is correct and much needed. As someone who actively partakes in the mobile heath app craze, I’m looking forward to the future of this trend. My favorite app is RunKeeper, which acts as a GPS and tracks my runs. I also use MyFitnessPal (MFP) to manage my caloric intake, and a few various others. I find all of these apps easy to use, helpful, and convenient and they really do let me manage my health.

Worrying about health and going to the doctor isn’t “easy” or “convenient” so the fact that there are apps that let you DIY is a really great thing for consumers. There are so many people who do not properly take care of themselves, be it a lack of exercise or not regularly seeing a primary care physician. Yet, the number of people who have smartphones and utilize these apps is growing. Therefore, I strongly encourage and look forward to the advances in mobile health apps. If we really wanted to make these apps worthwhile, I’d like to see doctors encourage their use and work them into checkups. For instance, using the new Skin Scan, “an app that allows users to scan and monitor moles over time, with the aim of preventing malignant skin cancers,” a consumer could show their doctor their mole’s change over time. Consumers want to use these apps and they’re more likely to take care of their health if we make it easy for them. Therefore, with proper marketing and direction, the DIY Health boom, particularly when it comes to apps, is going to be really important as society increasingly relies on mobile smartphones more and more.

However, I do have some areas of concern and I caution our complete reliability on these mobile health apps. For starters, anyone with some skill and money can create an app so you want to do research on what you’re downloading, particularly if you’re going to use it for legitimate purposes, like the Skin Scan, or if it’s an app used to diagnose issues. You want to make sure that your app has been positively reviewed and look to see if doctors or other health professionals have reviewed it as well.

Another potential issue I see with the growing reliability is consumers using their apps to replace their doctor. These mobile health apps should be used in conjunction with regularly scheduled visits and procedures and should not be used to take the place of speaking to a trained, licensed physician. Nothing can replace the one-on-one conversations with your doctor and even though I encourage anything that makes health easier for the consumer, people cannot expect that good health can be bought for $1.99 at the Apple Store. Good health is hard and requires effort and consumers need to remember that. The apps can be used to track issues or diagnose a problem, but its the consumer’s personal responsibility to take the information they’ve found and go see their doctor for a proper diagnosis. Just remember, Steve Jobs, as brilliant as he was, was not a doctor.

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