Mobile Health Applications Show Great Promise for the Management of Chronic Illnesses

Mobile health applications show great promise for the management of chronic illnesses like diabetes.

Mobile health applications show great promise for the management of chronic illnesses like diabetes.

The development of health-related applications is an intuitive response to the growing popularity of smart phones, and the number of applications available to both clinicians and patients has increased by leaps and bounds. These apps are, of course, designed to be useful, and people download them with the expectation that they will be effective. But how effective are mobile health applications, really?

Honestly, I hadn’t thoroughly researched the topic, but I ran across an article in Medgadget highlighting research recently published in Diabetes Care. The study, which followed 163 patients from 26 primary care practices over the course of a year, found that glycated hemoglobin declined 1.9% in the treatment group using a mobile and Web-based self—management patient coaching system compared to 0.7% in the group receiving usual care (P < 0.001).

For people excited about the potential of mobile health applications for the management of chronic illnesses like diabetes, this is additional concrete evidence that they can work. Since I only have access to the abstract, I can’t comment on study limitations and what kind of compliance issues the investigators noted, and I also am assuming that the patient population was adult.

I automatically assume that adolescent compliance using a mobile health tool would be better due to a generational affinity and comfort with technology, but this may not necessarily the case. There has been some research that has explored why adolescents may not engage with e-health applications, but suffice to say that more investigation needs to be done. Information from this year’s eTELEMED conference suggests that a customized version of the e-health tool employed in the adult diabetes study, above (Diabetes Manager by WellDoc) is being evaluated for adolescents within the context of home health care.

Are there e-health applications being piloted for adolescent use in pediatric practices? If you are aware of any, please comment here.