May 29, 2013

Are People Really Self-Tracking?

Even this topic brings out a lot of disagreement. Some think it should be more, others don't think it is growing fast enough, and others feel it should not be increasing. My blog here near the bottom may indicate why as people are encountering insurance problems. This is not addressed in the study and may explain why the growth rate is not growing faster.

In 2012, the Pew research people found that only 11% of adults track their health using mobile apps when only 9% were in 2011. The questions now being asked are relevant and more discussion needs to be sought. Pew is also saying cell phone usage is increasing about 20% a year, but mobile app usage is not.

Since this topic is gaining momentum in the blog world, I thought I would do a little unscientific research on my own. I stopped by a Radio Shack in a town about 30 miles distant and asked the manager of the franchise store about cell phone purchases and he said that mobile phone sales were increasing; however, cell phone app purchases were declining. He said that until recently, he had wondered why. Then one day a regular customer brought by an article showing that medical insurance companies were using data that they could collect from medical apps to help set individual insurance rates. He said this is why he is being requested to deactivate many medical apps and some other applications that could have medical uses. He estimated that for every medical app that he sells, he deactivates seven others.

He went on to state that some cell phones brands are not selling because of an article in an out-of-state Sunday paper showing a list of medical apps that were included on the cell phones and insurance companies were capturing this data.

In talking with another cell service company, they deactivate all medical apps and medical related apps now and only activate the ones that a customer wants. In talking to two different doctor practices, they said they are not equipped to receive medical data from any device currently, so they advise all their patients not to use cell and other mobile devices to collect data when they don't know where the data goes.

So it is rather obvious to me that we need to be cautious about our medical data and who has access to it. While my information is not scientific, it does convince me to be extremely careful if I ever upgrade my cell phone.

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