Mobile Health Monitoring at a Stalemate?

As highlighted Monday by American Medical News, the number of mHealth resources available to the general public has exploded in the last 36 months. But during the same period, the percentage of patients using these innovations hasn’t grown much at all.

Last month, the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 69% of U.S. adults track at least one health indicator. 49% monitor their progress in their heads, 34% track on on paper, and 21% depend on technology, like mobile apps.

Unfortunately, however, these results largely resemble the same findings from a 2010 Pew survey.

“As a tech industry thought leader, I’m disappointed when I see a survey like that,” explains Dr. Bill Crounse, senior director of worldwide health at Microsoft Corp. “But as somebody who has served as a physician and was involved in patient care for 20 years … I’m not particularly surprised.”

Dr. Crounse said most people have an idea of what they weigh because they occasionally step on a scale. But a much smaller population would write that number down, enter it into a patient portal or document it through a mobile app… But many remain optimistic that mobile health monitoring will be an important aspect of health care.

“I don’t see this as a plateau, but the very beginning,” Michael Esquivel, a health IT attorney, tells AMN with regard to new mHealth monitoring tools and resources entering the market today.

“People are buying these things, and they are using them. But unless that data is actionable and meaningful and it actually helps improve your health in some manner … then the mere collection of data is a novelty that will wear off,” Esquivel asserts.

For the time being, Dr. Crounse “does not foresee an immediate boost in the number of people using technology to track their health.”  Until physicians “are given incentives to encourage use of mobile tools,” adoption may remain painfully slow.

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