As the number of health and wellness applications rise, so is usage by doctors and patients.
With every passing week, the number of mobile health apps that are available takes another spike, and as this happens, doctors are taking the opportunity to open their minds and arms to the trend and see how they can use these applications to enhance the care that they provide.
A recent survey showed that over one in three physicians have recommended an mhealth app in the last year.
The results of that survey were published within the Medical Economics journal and represent a defining trend in mobile health. At the time that this article was written, it was estimated that there were over 40,000 different apps available for health, fitness, and medical focuses. That said, doctors are facing certain considerable challenges, particularly in terms of the lack of evidence that would show that these applications can actually live up to the promises that their developers make about them. This can make it very challenging for them to know which ones to recommend and prescribe to their patients.
Still, even without empirical evidence, doctors have been prescribing certain mobile health applications.
These have been particularly popular in the mhealth categories of smoking cessation, dieting, and fitness/exercise. Still, evidence from clinical trials that show effectiveness remains very important to doctors who are considering the recommendation of certain applications. This is particularly true in the case of apps that are specific to chronic diseases. In these areas, physicians are more likely to hold off and wait for the evidence before they will prescribe them to patients.
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The article in the journal predicted that over the next few years, the majority of devices and mobile apps that are meant to help doctors to diagnose and treat patients will be studied in clinical trials in order to be able to obtain their FDA approval.
In the meanwhile, doctors seem quite satisfied to be able to try out certain mobile health applications for themselves and to tell patients with chronic diseases about certain options while still cautioning them that it should be considered a tool and not a defining part of treatment. Physicians, themselves, have been warned to remember that they should be judicious about the prescription of mhealth apps so that they don’t find themselves becoming overwhelmed with data. They must find a method of screening and using gathered data so that it can be made useful.