In this article, Questia Group focuses on self-care. Our research was conducted through an online survey on our platform http://questia.ro covering 651 respondents. The survey was active between 13 and 14 June 2017. Our key findings are presented below.

Overview

For a couple of years now, we are witnessing how, at the global level, the ‘patient’ experience is becoming more and more digitalized. This trend can be understood by taking into consideration numerous factors, from the high level of internet penetration, the individualization of the ‘selfie-culture’, but also the decrease of government responsibility for health care and its shift onto citizens/consumers. Coupled with our need to take more control over most aspects of our lives – health and fitness apps and are on the rise.

A Business Insider survey from 2016 of more than 8,000 consumers in seven countries, 33% of respondents said they use mobile health apps, compared to 16% in a similar survey in 2014. On top of this, The Wearable in The Healthcare Sector Report points out to the following:

  • The wearables market is still in the early phases of expansion. Global shipments will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.8% over the five years, reaching 162.9 million units in 2020.
  • For consumers, interest in quantifying personal health metrics is translating into demand for fitness tracking devices and smartwatches.
  • Device accuracy and regulation are two major sticking points for device makers and technologists to address.
  • Concerns surrounding privacy and a lack of utility must also be addressed.

Moreover, as understood from PwC Health Research Institute’s annual report on the healthcare industry in 2017 modernization is a continuous project and the question is how to use emerging technologies such as blockchain, drones, and artificial intelligence to enhance the overall wellbeing of patients.

According to a U.S. study from 2015 individuals more likely to use health apps tended to be younger, have higher incomes and be more educated. The same study shows that, among those who had downloaded health apps, trust in their accuracy and data safety was quite high, and most felt that the apps had improved their health.

All in all, the mobile health market (the global digital health market in the period 2015-2020) is expected to reach over 200 billion U.S. dollars by 2020.

Findings

Asked what types of health apps do they have on their smartphone/tablet, 35.0% of answers were attributed to body mass index calculator, 20.2% to health diagnosis/treatments and 17.5% to apps related to the measurement of sports activity (number of steps, hours run, etc.). A minority 10.9% use sleep induction apps, while the majority (43.9%) don’t use health apps at all.

health apps

The top fitness apps that respondents use are pedometers (37.5%), apps that count the physical effort (from trips, jogging, cycling, etc.) (29.8%), 5-7 minutes exercise apps or video tutorials for staying fit (20.4%). Cardio (18.9%) and water consumption monitorization are used less, while mindfulness/yoga/meditation have a small penetration (10%) in the Romanian sector.

fitness apps

As for nutrition apps, healthy recipes (29.3%), tips/tricks /rewards for losing weight (24.2%) and counting calories apps (20.3%) are most common among respondents. Like the other apps regarding health and fitness, most respondents don’t use digital tools to stay fit.

nutrition apps

According to Greg Hager, professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University in the absence of trials or scientific grounding, it is impossible to say whether apps are having the intended effect. Also, professor John Jakicic, of the University of Pittsburgh, and its team found that fitness trackers did not help people lose weight. Regardless their utility, health and fitness apps are marketing tools on the rise of the ‘self-care’ culture that aim to improve people’s lives.

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