Mobile Multimedia Health Applications and Their Potential Impact on the Human Population
Mobile applications have become prevalent in every facet of human life from communication through social media and email to entertainment by watching videos and playing games. It is without a doubt that the majority of people, especially those from the Western world, have access to a smartphone. The aforementioned statement is supported by statistics from the Pew Research Center which indicated that in the year 2018, a whopping 95% of Americans possessed a cellphone and 77% of Americans owned a smartphone . In regard to just smartphone statistics, the percentage of users has more than doubled in the last five years . In this paper we have conducted a survey that included 10 questions and involved 91 survey participants where 85.4% own a smartphone. More than half, 56.7%, of the survey participants responded that they have previously used or are using a health application and 57.8% own a wearable device that possesses health related functionality. The survey revealed uncertainties concerning health related applications and wearable technology revealed. Based on these results, the paper provides suggestions for the mobile health applications to reach their full, wide-spread potential and be able to positively impact the well-being of the entirety of the human population.
Keywords — Apps; Applications; Cell phones; Health; Healthcare; Mobile; Mobile Multimedia Applications; Smartphone’s
The possibilities that exist for health-related applications are endless so it is no wonder why they are growing this rapidly in popularity and usage. These types of applications allow its users to do a plethora of useful things such as maintaining a log of their diet and even save their life by alerting authorities if their heart rate goes above a certain threshold. Evidently, health apps can provide countless benefits to individuals, communities, as well as organizations. As the popularity of and dependency on mobile health applications grows, however, so do the questions behind the usage of them. With the growing pervasiveness of smartphones and their increased importance in daily life, it is vital that mobile applications keep up pace. One of the most ingenious and dynamically usable types of applications that are more frequently being developed, offered to the public, and used are health related. Based on a study from 2015 by Paul Krebs and Dustin T. Duncan, 58% of people that owned a smartphone have downloaded a health app onto their mobile device. Mobile healthcare applications are on the rise as considerably more healthcare professionals adopt them for clinical practices. This demand has created a need for medical software applications to not only assist patients, but healthcare providers alike. These types of applications are part of what is referred to as the eHealth (Electronic Health) ecosystem that primarily focuses on providing these patients and healthcare providers with a wide variety of services. Typically, healthcare apps are catered to either provide for just the patients or just the healthcare providers since both seem to require them for different purposes. Patients require on- demand access to their personal health records, general services, and medical information as well as reminders for their medication and appointments. Healthcare providers, on the other hand, need to be able to use these applications for referencing current and previous patient records, monitoring of patients and their health conditions, training medical staff, and much more.
While mobile health applications have many practical uses for both the common individual and expansive organizations, there are still some issues with their use and development which is to only be expected from relatively new ideas. One of the largest factors hindering more widespread adoption of health smartphone apps is the issue of trust and quality. Creating applications is something anyone can do given that they possess the proper knowledge. Despite how accessible application creation is, however, there is not always a guarantee for the user end of the spectrum that the medical application they are using has the correct information or functions as advertised. Such example of this is briefly mentioned in an article by M.D.I. Husain which describes how a $3.99 smartphone application claiming to measure blood pressure is widely used by numerous individuals, but the fact that it is not Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved can only be seen by going through convoluted menu options. It is only that the quality of many health applications a r e not guaranteed, but there is also the issue of trust regarding personal information. Even with legitimate applications, as with any type of software that involves the dissemination of private information, it is important to be sure that an individual’s private information is safe especially from malicious intent. Modern hackers are becoming increasingly creative in the ways that they break into devices. A new attack vector, termed BlueBorne that can target smart phones through Bluetooth was recently discovered. For health applications to reach their maximum potential in widespread use, it is essential that these applications and mobile devices themselves have the same level of security that would be expected of other systems manage highly personal information. In the United States, mobile health application adoption is already considerably good. Based on a study by Markovsky.com, about 66% Americans used a health application to manage or look up health related issues. Based on the same study, the top searches in health application usages were:
- Tracking Diet / Nutrition (47%)
- Medication Reminders (46%)
- Tracking Symptoms (45%)
- Tracking Physical Activity (44%)
The potential that health related mobile applications have is astoundingly limitless and is inarguable something that all technology users should be able to take full advantage of without hesitation. Health applications have the ability to provide many services to its users such as measure their heart rate, log the daily amount of sleep they are getting, and even deliver reminders for appointments and medication. These features are not only convenient, but have been proven on multiple occasions to be a source of encouragement for better personal h e a l t h a n d s o m e t i m e s g e n u i n e l y l i f e -saving. In this paper we have conducted a survey that included 10 questions and involved 91 survey participants where 85.4% own a Smartphone. The participants of the survey involved 18 to 24 years old at 51.6%, followed by 24 to 30 years old at 30.8%. More than half, 56.7%, of the survey participants responded that they have previously used or are using a health application and 57.8% own a wearable device that possesses health related functionality.
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