Mobile health (mHealth) apps are exploding in number and popularity, a development that presents new challenges for patients and health care professionals.
As a patient, how can I determine which among the thousands of health-related apps on the market fits my needs?
Before we dive into the topic of how to choose the right mHealth App for your needs, let us explain why we at Telemedicols believe using the right health Apps can really improve your health. The scientists call it the Hawthorne effect. It refers to the observation that individuals modify an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.
In regard to mHealth Apps, many of which track users' sleeping, exercising, and other habits, means that measuring certain health related parameters can lead to healthier behavior. As an example, when people start to measure their steps daily, they begin to walk more just because they realize they are measuring it.
1. To choose the right mHealth for your needs, first determine what your mHealth App is supposed to do. For example, mHealth Apps can educate and inform users. They can track symptoms and exchange patients' journeys within a community with similar conditions. There are health apps that remind users to take the prescribed medication or to exercise regularly. Some of them can provide individual advice from a therapist or a personal coach. When choosing a mHealth App, the first questions should be:
What am I going to do with this App?
Do I need an app to track my biometrics?
Do I need a journal function? Or a reminder for my medication?
Can my health professional get access to the data stored in the App?
2. In case you want to use the mHealth App to share data with your health care providers such as the symptoms or treatment options, etc., it might be useful to ask your health care provider before choosing the App if they support your choice. Are they are familiar with this type of data tracking and willing to look at the data you provide? It can be very frustrating if you go to your doctor's office after six months of continuous data tracking only to find out your health care provider didn't even look at it.
3. mHealth Apps can only help if used appropriately and regularly.
The best advice here is to test out several health apps before choosing one and to commit to it. If an app isn't easy to use, if you don't like the design or it is missing a critical feature, you probably won't use this App regularly. And those healthy changes you're trying to integrate into your daily routine probably won't become a habit. However, don't give up if the first few apps don't fit your needs. Test-driving different Apps can teach you about your preferences and features that are crucial to you.
And add some fun into your app-testing equation!