More mHealth apps means a more healthy society  —  right?

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In an interesting article by Mike Walker (Via Medium), it is argued that mobile health apps alone aren’t the answer to the public health crisis. As we have seen ourselves in recent projects here in Brazil over the past 12 months we increasingly have digital technology that empowers patients over doctors.  In a country in which the public health system (SUS) is terminally ill the can be especially powerful. The mobile model makes it more convenient to manage our health from home and on the go than to visit the GP. In this idealised model the patient doesn’t have to act unless there are warning signs in the data. As Walker argues, “mHealth promises to be patient-centric, which is a very good thing indeed”. 

However, out of tens of thousands of mobile health apps and services, only a handful are proven to be based on validated research — and mental health and mindfulness apps are especially controversial. Although that sector includes some of the most visually compelling apps in the market, researchers found that of 700 mindfulness apps available, only 23 are providing any mindfulness training and only one is based on empirical evidence. The implications here in Brazil are again especially interesting as mindfulness is very much at a nascent stage here in South America. 

Walker’s conclusions are important not only for the health industry and the end user but also for those responsible for designing such experiences,  

“the effectiveness of mHealth services rests on a tug of war between clinical efficacy and engaging user experience. At one end of the rope, commercial app developers are experts in creating engaging digital experiences and are quick to get them in user’s hands. At the other end, health providers are experts in medicine, but are slow and inexperienced in bringing digital products to fruition in user-friendly ways. Which means that in order to be successful, clinicians and entrepreneurs need to put down the rope and figure out how to work together.”

(This post comes from our Designing Deeper blog)
(Este post foi retirado do nosso blog Designing Deeper)