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M-Health Applications

M-health usage has rapidly increased over the years. The increased ownership of smartphones has facilitated the growth of m-health applications among people. In the United States, 77% of the population owned a smartphone in 2018 (Mahmood et al., 2019). These apps can be used for disease prevention, health diagnosis, and finding the healthcare profession. In the United States, over 35.9% of people use m-health applications (Smahel et al., 2019). The information on the various functions of m-health applications is particularly important for the future development of these applications. It will help developers know what features are vital for users. A study conducted to evaluate the functions of 167 apps showed that self-monitoring was a common function as 35.3% of the apps surveyed had this function (Smahel et al., 2019). Physical activity was the second most common function with 27.5%, followed by weight assessment which accounted for 25.4% (Smahel et al., 2019). Smahel et al. (2019) conducted a study to determine the socio-demographic and individual characteristics of users who use them-health applications in the Czech Republic. The location was chosen as the usage of smartphones in the area was high and accounted for 64% of mobile phone users. The study results showed that the individuals used the application to monitor their calorie intake and the socializing function was the least used function among the individuals.

M-health apps have also been found helpful in the management of chronic medical conditions. Chronic diseases are a global pandemic and the leading cause of mortality globally (Lee et al., 2018). Some examples of chronic diseases are cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. In the United States, 60% of Americans have at least one chronic medical condition, while 42% have two or more medical conditions (Mahmood et al., 2019). Various studies have been conducted to determine the relationship between m-health applications and promoting health behaviors among individuals with chronic medical conditions. For instance, Lee et al. (2018) conducted a systematic review in a randomized controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of m-health applications in the management of chronic diseases. The study results showed that the usage of m-health applications had a significant impact on the chronic disease management of patients who used these applications. Another study conducted by Mahmood et al. (2019) showed that individuals with the applications used them to promote healthy behaviors and track the progress of their health-related goals. M-health applications have had various advantages as they not only improve diagnosis but also improve interactions among people. In chronic disease management, this app can be used to monitor the weight and physical activities that are particularly associated with chronic diseases.

The functions of health applications by Smahel et al. (2019) provided insightful information on the most common feature in them-health applications among users. This study offered reliable results which were consistent with other studies that had previously been conducted. Individuals who wanted to maintain their weight used the app function of weight monitoring and position. The authors of the study recommend that these apps should incorporate risk-specific warnings to the users. This will reduce the risk of injury among the users who use these apps without professional help. The study results can also be interpreted to help application developers tailor the application in accordance with the individual needs. When the profiles are tailored in accordance with patient needs, high-risk patients will not be vulnerable to the effects of excessive exercise.

Both studies conducted by Lee et al. (2018) and Mahmood et al. (2019) showed that m-health had a positive relationship in managing chronic conditions among patients who used the app. The results of these steadies were reliable as they showed consistency with other studies that had been previously conducted. The participants investigated in the Mahmood et al. (2019) study reported that the m-health apps helped them to track changes in their health goals and to make more informed decisions about their health compared to the other participants who did not use the app. The study also used a large number of participants with broad applicability, thus allowing the results to be generalized. The study had two stages: random participants were selected from different residential areas, and the other stage adults from the household sampled were surveyed. An alternative interpretation from these studies is that m-health applications should be integrated into managing health conditions where patients can use the app to maintain a healthy lifestyle by following the health goals in the application.

An implication from the studies is that digital innovators should consider the needs of older people when designing them-health applications as the results of the studies have shown that the m-health applications are particularly important for managing chronic conditions. The development of m-health applications which are friendly for usage by older people is critical. Most of the patients who have chronic illnesses are older who have limited access to modern applications or literacy on the use of these applications; thus, digital innovators should consider the needs of these older populations when developing these applications.


DuBoff MP, Futrell E. The mHealth Planning Guide: Key Considerations for Integrating Mobile Technology into Health Programs. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Program; 2013.

Lee, J. A., Choi, M., Lee, S. A., & Jiang, N. (2018). Effective behavioral intervention strategies using mobile health applications for chronic disease management: a systematic review. BMC medical informatics and decision making18(1), 1-18.

Mahmood, A., Kedia, S., Wyant, D. K., Ahn, S., & Bhuyan, S. S. (2019). Use of mobile health applications for health-promoting behavior among individuals with chronic medical conditions. Digital Health5, 2055207619882181.

Smahel, D., Elavsky, S., & Machackova, H. (2019). Functions of mHealth applications: A user’s perspective. Health informatics journal25(3), 1065-1075.


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