Smartphones are contributing to health management (mHealth) needs by constant development of health and medical applications. West Wireless Health Institute (WWHI) feels that chronic health diseases are the biggest opportunities for mHealth apps. The apps can help people in managing their chronic health conditions. The question is; are apps being developed in health and medical area, addressing chronic diseases?
What are chronic diseases?
World Health Organization (WHO) defines chronic diseases as “diseases of long duration and generally slow progression.” The most common chronic diseases include heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and arthritis.
- WHO states that chronic diseases are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world.
- It represent 60% of all deaths world wide and 70% in the US as per Center for Disease Control (CDC).
- WWHI states that chronic diseases about to ~75% of our healthcare cost (~$2.3 trillion)
- The CDC predicts one third of American adults will develop diabetes by 2050, which is huge.
- WHO – 80% of chronic disease deaths occur in low and middle income countries and these deaths occur in equal numbers among men and women;
- WHO – This growing threat is an under-appreciated cause of poverty and hinders the economic development of many countries;
- CDC – More than one-third of all adults in the US do not meet recommendations for aerobic physical activity based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, and 23% report no leisure-time physical activity at all in the preceding month.
- CDC – More than 43 million American adults (approximately 1 in 5) smoke; Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, and cigarette smoking causes almost all cases.
- CDC- Nearly 45% of high school students in the US report consuming alcohol in the past 30 days, and over 60% of those who drink report binge drinking (consuming 5 or more drinks on an occasion) within the past 30 days
If you collectively think about statements from WHO and CDC, I feel that developing countries pose challenge due to availability of resources and growing population. Developed countries are becoming victim of chronic diseases because of their lifestyle.
Now, how can mHealth apps help you manage your chronic disease? There are several...
- Monitoring apps like heart rate, blood pressure, glucose level, weight, etc
- Management apps like diet recommendation, exercise schedule, etc
- Alert and motivation apps like sending message to remind if you checked you BP, or motivate you to exercise
Where do we stand on chronic disease apps?
In 2020 itself, between February and September 2010 more than 200 new apps chronic condition management apps were launches as per mobilehealthnews. The launched apps included more than 53% for diabetes management. But still, mobilehealthnews reports that we need much more. Especially considering the fact a few of them could make it to Apple’s top 1000 apps. The ten apps below were the chronic condition management apps with the highest ranking in Apple’s Top 1000 for Health & Fitness along with their original rankings:
77. GoMeals developed by Sanofi Aventis
164. GlucoseBuddy developed by oneAppOneCause
193. Allergy Alert developed by SDI Health
232. Livestrong developed by Demand Media
323. WaveSense Diabetes Manager developed by Agamatrix
331. Diabetes Log developed by Distal Thoughts
432. Diabetes Companion developed by dLife
441. Diabetes Health Mobile developed by Diabetes Health
471. hCG Diet app developed by CodeQ
537. BloodPressure+Pulse Grapher Lite developed by Michael Heinz
What is the challenge with mhealth apps?
If I think about what mHealth apps can do lot more for chronic disease, but how would you motivate people to use it? As per latest report from Pyramid, 70% of people worldwide want to use mhealth, if it is cheap enough. Just look at the health insurance provided in the US, we can go for free annual check up. How many people avail this free service every year? Another question that comes to my mind is, what would be the metrics of success of mhealth for chronic diseases? What does revenue model look like for mhealth app developers?
None-the-less, I think you will agree that there are many more apps needed for chronic disease. I hope innovatoers recognize this need and come up with ways to motivate people to use the apps they develop.