Medical apps – the rise of self-tracking

We all know that mobile is changing the way we consume media, interact with brands, purchase products and browse the Internet.

We also know that mobile can also be a tool for improving our health outcomes; especially amongst people with chronic conditions.

There is a vast selection of apps available on the app store and we would seem to be spoilt for choice.

‘Tracking For Health’, a report conducted in January 2013 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reveals how we are using technology and mobile as part of a routine to track health and symptoms. It also identifies that there is a still a large proportion of users who don’t track with technology whatsoever.

health track infographic

















Whilst the research is from the US, it still provides an insight into the common trends. If I’m being honest, the figures for the UK are probably very similar but I have yet to come across a detailed report covering this country.

As the article from the Pew Internet & American Life Project states, this was the first national survey  from a poll of 3,014 US adults that measured health data tracking in its many forms. The survey also found that: –

  • 46% of trackers say that this activity has changed their overall approach to maintaining their health or the health of someone for whom they provide care.
  • 40% of trackers say it has led them to ask a doctor new questions or to get a second opinion from another doctor.
  • 34% of trackers say it has affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition.

Traditional methods still rule

As the graphic reveals, many of the respondents (from a poll of 3,014 US adults) still use traditional methods to track health such as ‘in their heads’ or in a notebook or journal.

Whilst this is certainly a challenge for technology in general, it’s not as a powerful restraining force as we may think. I attended a conference recently, healthcare apps: maximising impact, which was full of innovation and the willingness to change behaviour and attitudes.  It will take time but we are on the right course and heading in the right direction.

In fact, this is the topic of my next blog post coming soon.

Source: Fox, Susannah, Duggan, Maeve. Tracking for health. Pew Internet & American Life Project, January 28th, 2013,, accessed on February 12th 2013