Day in and day out we are flooded with new healthcare apps, many used on regular computers and of late more mHealth apps and yet few use them.  There’s little or no interest and we have this stigma out there that if we create an app that people are just going to salivate and jump all over the next app?  They don’t as “people don’t work that way” and it’s hard no doubt to get the right match to generate interest from consumers. 

Sure when you have a proof of concept how an app can help and will be used, it all sounds good and you read news that says the same thing, “oh wow look at this” and then that’s the end of many apps.  imageSure they hang around there’s a few that will decide to give things a try but in time many of those drop off with interest.

There’s a lot of time and code written here on apps that get flushed down the toilet as consumers don’t use them.  It’s almost like we are at the point of write something and throw it against the wall and see if it sticks.  I have said for a long time too that there are way too many apps that “just do one thing” so unless that app addresses something that is absolutely hot with consumers, the interest vanishes there as well.

Truth of the matter here is that consumers know better that “using an app is not going to fix them” so why bother.  We a drug can fix us as well as a device.  Granted there are apps out there that are tied to something tangible that seem to have a better success rate than others but even then, those can turn out to be a fad and fade away too.  When they go away there’s a whole new bunch out there waiting in line. 

Now there’s actually clinical mobile apps that are working and these are ones, well guess what, that involve doctors and other clinical personnel that do something and we come back around to the fact that the underlying success here is we are back to people working with people, what a surprise (grin).  People do use the web a lot to look up healthcare information and that’s increasing, a good thing as that shows a definitely move in the direction of getting educated. 

Plus on the apps we know the other side of many of the apps connect and sell data too, maybe not identifiable data but a profile of what information is there and sure that still bugs a lot of people, me too.  You get a privacy statement that you can’t figure out with all kinds of legal mumbo jumbo so why bother as that could change at any time and maybe more than a profile gets sold.  We have these behavioral folks that want to study every thing you do and we know that but we like privacy too, so again a real turn off even when you do think about maybe using an app.  That’s a bit scare too as there’s little protection at all for consumers and take this case below with a data broker that can’t pay his $1 million dollar fine and gets it reduced to $60,000.00 instead and gets to stay in business.

Two Data Brokers Get Fined by the FTC For Non Compliance, One Gets Most All Of The Million Dollar Fine Reduced as They Could Not Afford To Pay By the Court, But If You Are A Consumer With Medical Bills You Go To Bankruptcy Court..

What a contrast as a person with a million dollars of medical bills ends up in bankruptcy court, so not frigging fair, so again if any of your information ends up with one of the data brokers, why bother.  Sometimes though and I have done this by asking, you find with consumer health apps that the developers don’t even use their own app so wow that’s another big one there if they don’t even use their own stuff but tell you that you need it?  Then you have the readers on the web, what I call the “peanut gallery” that will read the news and write this blazing blog article on “how you need this app” and they just think it’s neat and have no intention of even messing with it themselves:)

So it’s time to get smarter about this and stop trying to tell consumers this this app or a game disguised image73as a healthcare app is going “to fix you” because “people don’t work that way”…another big case of “The Grays” to where folks can’t tell the difference between virtual values and real world values in in this case, it’s not the consumers, it’s the developers, as it get all of us at some time.  When you read all these reports and studies too it’s also important to realize that you have some virtual values creeping around here too.  When you use an app it may not be like everyone else does as you have this thing called “life” which is the “real world” that comes into play as everyone is different and thus use, time of use, etc. of an app will be different too.  Sometimes studies that you read leave this element out and focus on what is common so you only get part of the story. 

It Will Never be 100 Bottles of Beer, Healthcare, Financials, Etc.-A Simple Explanation and Guide To Think About With Reports and Analytics Floating Around Out There Today When You Look for Value..

Here’s a video clip using a little math that breaks this down for you with 100 bottles of beer which is the goal.  In a very simplistic way world renown Quant Paul Wilmott tells you why with “non linear” data studies as to why you never get a 100, in other words look at all the “real world” interruptions that occur here as to why it’s never going to be a 100 as you have “real world elements” that figure in here with someone not wanting to sell you the 100 bottles for some reason or another and that is real life. 

So if an app is promising you the equivalent of 100 bottles of beer to go fix yourself, well you can see why the interest falls off here as it doesn’t work that way.  There are not that many apps that draw consumers and those that do have been games or something that is usually entertaining and let’s face it, I don’t consider healthcare entertaining but it is something that needs my attention and continued education as I read all the time but in my mind it’s in separate spot from “apps that say go fix yourself” as that’s the way my brain works, they are two different categories to me on how I rationalize on where I need to focus. 

ONC Has Another New Contest–Toss Another App Out to the Consumers, But Hey Around 69% of all mobile apps Have Just Been Reported “Dead”…

Efforts that involve other people are always better and those can work short term for some apps but again when the competition is done, so is the app.  Right now a lot of the apps out there involving group participation are the same principles we have had around forever with “people helping people” and the app intersects and becomes part of it with tracking results, but you know what, people helping people is the best and it won’t go away by any means to be replaced by an app and whether or not people think an app fits in to this process remains to be seen.  12 step program processes are what the basis of a lot of these apps really are. 

Virtual Worlds, Real World We Have A Problem And It’s A Big One With A Lot of Gray Areas Finding Where The Defining Lines Exist, Confusing Many With A Lot of Weird Values And Strange Perceptions…

Yes I get tired of the marketing and all the news about some new consumer app that’s going to set the world on fire and fix everyone too.  Consumer or patient engagement is not saying “here’s an app and go fix yourself” by any means but some still think this is a fix as we keep getting hammered day in and day out that this is the answer.  Then we have this vicious cycle of “scoring” everything we do and that gets old too.  Sure we need some scoring and some of it is helpful but that’s the other side of this in determining what is valuable and what is not. 

Recently the world privacy organization put out a report on the FICO medication adherence “scoring” to where they say they only need your name and address to “score” you if will take your medications, which is again this non linear nonsense and goes back to the 100 bottles of beer example and sells it to pharma and insurers.  Any app that plays with any of this of course is dangerous by far as again you are “scored” on a curve per se and people pay for this type of junk.  Amazing that a name and address and buying a bunch of data from data brokers can do this?  Lots of flaws in the data for sure but they good marketers at FCIO that tell it’s reliable. 

mHealth and Other Technologies in Healthcare Experience Slow Growth Is As the Data Selling Epidemic for Shear Profit in the US Continues to Grow Leaps and Bounds Leaving Manufacturing in the Hole and Non Competitive

So I guess until we better understand the education process of this and the involvement of people, we can look forward to more apps that say “go fix yourself”..and for clarification I’m counting apps that really have value in this group by any means as those do exist like ones that can help you analyze something like a spot on your skin, vision tests, etc. as those have value but those apps are on an “as needed” basis and good to have them when we might need them and are not a long term every use consumer app. 

Again those mobile health apps that with clinical use have value for the doctors as well and again that’s is not what I’m talking about at all here so again just wanted to make that distinction that this is not about those apps at all but rather about the garbage trucks of consumer apps that are dumped out there every day to “fix you”. 

I do like the FDA mobile app because it’s useful, check it out and it helps educate me for one simple example here and I use it on an “as needed” basis. 

I think if you maybe look at it that way with an “as needed” basis when you think about apps, maybe that might help you separate the “junk science” apps (that might be disguised as data mining and selling apps) from the ones that have real value here. 

Long and short of this muse here is that no app alone without people is going to fix or engage you so would folks back off just a little bit on the daily dumps we get on this topic (grin).  Apps alone won’t succeed with engaging patients and oh yeah the advertising folks will jump in here to suck you in with a “conversion” rate too (grin) which has no effect at all on whether or not you consider yourself fixed..more of “The Grays” when you go there. 

The developers making these apps need these will want conversion numbers so we can get more silly reports on how many people they have been able to fix and and engage, but again we go back to the 100 bottles of beer video for the basis of those reports, it’s never going to be 100.   On the topic of those types of reports be careful and watch video #1 in my footer for more insight on how some of the reports and studies tend to suck you in too.  The professor very eloquently explains why there’s no happiness or perfect butt algorithms but you will probably see news article proclaiming they exist.  BD


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