About 70% of all U.S. consumers have smartphones today. If you’re one of those “smart” people, then it’s no surprise to you that apps are what drives activity on our phones, helping us to do everything from obtain news to getting directions to your next appointment and everything in between. They certainly can enrich, inform, and help to manage your life. Even I have joined in the 21st century and use my phone for a lot of those exciting and beneficial resources, and according to research, the number of people doing that is growing every day!
Despite the expansive number of app choices out there for use, believe it or not the most commonly used apps are healthcare related. According to survey earlier this year from Pew Research Center, 62% of smartphone users used their device to look up healthcare information during the past year. I know when I was in the hospital earlier this year, my wife and I relied on our smartphones to gather information to discuss with the doctors, as well as to find out information about my medications and my insurance plan coverage. But it goes beyond simple information, as more than 66% of Americans would use a mobile app to help manage their health-related issues according to a survey from Makovsky/Kelton.
Consumers now have such easy access to mobile health apps (or mHealth as they’re collectively called) that they can do such tasks as remember to take their medication, update their medical records, and even comparison shop for medical services. Reports are predicting that mHealth will save healthcare costs for consumers, healthcare professionals, and other stakeholders by more than 100 billion dollars over the next 10 years.
Navigating through Healthcare Apps
The most difficult part about mHealth is simply the abundance of apps available making it somewhat overwhelming to choose between them. Mobile apps, once mastered, can track your appointments, manage your prescriptions, check your medical claims status and even pay your bills. Apps are available for free (or at a small fee) for both Android and Apple devices and can do such things as enable you to find information (on conditions, medications, treatments, providers, and costs), record information such as emergency contacts, weight changes, symptoms, and daily workouts, give you information such as reminders to take medication or lab results, or take action such as schedule an appointment or pay your insurance bill. That leaves open a lot of possibilities for managing your healthcare!
The most common use is probably comparing prescription costs. Nearly 48% of all Americans currently take at least 1 prescription drug and almost 40% of older Americans used 5 or more prescriptions during the past month. You can imagine the power knowing price information can have on controlling your medical costs as well as making you an informed consumer, which is one reason why GoodRx is currently the top free medical app in the Google Play Store.
If you’re looking for general medical information, iTriage is a one-stop reference for most health questions you might have. There is also the well-known WebMD guide to help you find information and treatments for hundreds of diseases. To help you gauge what your health costs should be, try Healthcare Bluebook or Fair Health Cost Estimator apps to help you save money.
Of course preventative care saves the most of all, so be sure to try out apps like FitBit (designed to work with the popular wearable technology) or MapMyFitness which can help you track your fitness and dietary goals.
There are so many great apps that I couldn’t possibly list them all here, but you can check out Greatist’s Best Health and Fitness Apps of 2015 for lots of great ideas to help you stay healthy and save money in the process.
As technology evolves, it can really make a difference in our lives. The next wave lies in devices that attach to our smartphones and let you take medical readings such as blood pressure and glucose levels, but for now, we have a lot of great tools at our fingertips that can help medical professionals take care of our health. Good luck and good health in your endeavors to stay well and save money at the same time!
Do you use any healthcare apps on your smartphone? If not, why not? If so, which ones do you recommend?
Image courtesy of nenetus at freedigitalphotos.net (with changes)