A look at the top health 150 apps aims to show how consumers use their phones to lose weight or monitor their nutrition, offer insight to developers and doctors alike.
More and more people are tracking the number of calories they eat or the number of steps they take on their mobile phone — a trend that’s likely to continue as technology costs decrease.
Verasoni Worldwide, a marketing firm in Montclair, issued a report Friday looking at the 150 most popular mobile health applications downloaded onto both iPhone and Android devices as a way for developers and providers to better understand the way consumers are using these programs.
“It’s all the rage — it’s what you’re seeing. The mobile applications sector is exploding, so we wanted to see what people were actually downloading,” said Abe Kasbo, CEO of Verasoni. “We thought if we learned a little bit about what people were downloading, we would have a better understanding of what’s being consumed. What we found was people are downloading exercise, nutrition and weight loss more than any other apps.”
According to the Verasoni study, the top 150 health-related apps have been downloaded more than 67.5 million times onto iPhones, and more than 59.1 million times onto Android devices. Among these 150 apps, the most popular are related to weight loss. Also, iPhone users are seven times more likely than Android users to pay for an app, as opposed to downloading a free one.
Kasbo said the trend indicates that, as the cost of devices decreases, more and more people are taking control of their health in a less complicated, more easily accessible way. While consumers are the target of the top downloaded health apps, there are some health care providers trying to actively integrate the technology into their patients’ lives.
“There seems to be a lot of hype out there … all of these things about ‘download an app, it will take your blood pressure and send the information to your doctor,’ we’re not seeing any of those out there in the top 150 downloaded apps,” Kasbo said. “It might mean we’re not there yet, it doesn’t mean the platform can’t do it.”
VNA Health Group, in Red Bank, has all of its visiting nurses using Samsung Galaxy tablets to record health data during home visits. CEO Steven Landers said he hopes, in the near future, the tablets will also be used for access to medical education tools — for the providers and the patients — as well as a way to monitor patients in between visits.
Kasbo said The Mayo Clinic’s cardiac department uses a customized app that tracks patients’ adherence to care plans after cardiac surgery.
“All of that goes into your electronic health record. So you put in your medication, you put in your exercise … and the Mayo Clinic does a wonderful job in providing the training for this app,” Kasbo said. “I think it’s going to be a partnership between the health care provider and the individual patient who are going to have to come together and say, ‘This app is valuable, I need to use it to monitor my health.’”