Apps and Availability of Health Information

More and more, people are turning to mobile data for health information and tracking. Since the introduction of smartphone apps in 2008, apps have been developed for all sorts of purposes, including games, productivity, communication and social media, education, and health and fitness. It is estimated that 20 to 30% of smartphone users have downloaded apps about health and fitness. Scrolling through the google play store, one can see many apps designed to help someone lose weight, track running or biking paths, prepare nutritious meals, gain mindfulness to reduce stress.

Many of these apps have been developed by hospitals and medical schools, but many others were developed by corporations seeking to make a profit. In addition to personal use, health and fitness apps have great potential to be used in medical settings. As technology, apps reflect the beliefs and practices of the culture and can even be seen as active participants of culture. These apps have not been studied from a social science perspective, so we are not sure how this would change the patient-doctor relationship and society at large. With technology progressing faster than ever, it is important that social scientists keep up. A greater understanding of how health and fitness apps affect how people interact with their health care providers would benefit both medical institutions and individuals alike.