mHealth - Innovative Technology for a Sustainable Health Service - Part II

mHealth user adoption and, even more importantly, retention is a common area of discussion and, through a lack of published evidence, some conjecture across health circles. Where is the evidence to suggest we are ready for the significant time and financial investment mHealth will require? A research article published in May 2016 by the School of Pharmacy at Curtin University, W.A.: Mobile Health Apps to Facilitate Self-Care: A Qualitative Study of User Experiences cites one participant as saying “I think it's not so much the app, but it's where the app can go. . . If it's just an app in isolation, it doesn't have as much power [compared to] if it's something that you can feed into information that you need somewhere else.”, e.g. your GP, your specialist, etc.

Combining tenets from three established technology evaluation models: TAM (Technology Acceptance Model used to quantify consumer acceptance of technology), HITAM (Health Information Technology Acceptance Model extending TAM to include behavioural, personal, social and IT factors) and MARS (Mobile Application Rating Scale used to assess the quality of Health Mobile Apps), these authors have conducted the first known research into Health Apps in terms of User Experience and, by extension, Retention.

“Data from this limited sample of health app users suggest self-management by health consumers with chronic conditions can be enhanced via use of mobile applications” with recurring themes including “the desire to use the app, particularly until consumers had reached their self-management goal” and the “ability to send data to allied health professionals…”. Combine these results with the increase in self-service preferences and acceptance amongst consumers generally must lead to the conclusion, yes we are ready and, it would seem, for even more sophisticated/tailored applications.

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