Mitchell Poll Reveals that Boomers will Purchase Health Care Apps

A common conversation amongst Boomers is that we all want to live longer and we all want more active lives.  Ask almost any Boomer what he or she thinks about getting older and you’ll hear the proclamation, “I’m not giving into aging.”

And we often say we will go to great lengths to keep the tentacles of Father Time at bay.

Now a new study shows that a majority of Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-64) who own smart phones are willing to put their money where their mouths are and purchase health apps that help monitor and combat chronic diseases.

According to our recently released Mitchell Poll of 600 Boomers nationwide who use smartphones, more than two-thirds would pay for a medical app.

About 36% would spend $1 or $2 on a medical app and 30% would spend $3 to $10.  This is good news, for app developers, insurance providers and doctors.

Before health care providers get too excited about this seemingly rousing news, they need to look beyond the download.

Even though Boomers say they will purchase and download the app, they still need human interaction to help them use it.  Sure, the app developers benefit from the download, but as we all know, just downloading doesn’t manage chronic disease―or solidify long term users.

My qualitative research with physicians and potential users supports this theory.  Both groups say that users want, and often need, to be taught how to use the app to increase their comfort level with technology.

Recently, I spent about 30 minutes guiding a group of tech savvy mid-range Boomers (ages 57-60) through the process of downloading and exploring a free weight and fitness app.  By the end of the half-hour, they were excitedly exchanging information and having fun working with the app and personalizing it.  Several days later, one participant contacted me and told me “this is the best app I have, thanks for teaching me how to use it.”

Lessons learned

·Just because chronic disease apps exist doesn’t mean they are used.
·Just because someone downloads a chronic disease app doesn’t mean he or she will use it.
·There needs to be a human liaison between the app and the Boomer user.
·Once the group gets comfortable together, they are willing to share their ideas and outcomes, which will make adherence to the app more likely.
·And, once they get used to it they’re very likely to share their app with friends, increasing the number of users!

Boomers and Chronic Disease

Our poll also discovered that there are a number of Boomers with chronic diseases.  One in four (24%) of the Boomer smartphone users have been diagnosed with diabetes (15%), heart disease (7%) or both (2%).

According to the Center for Disease Control 80% of adults over 65 have one chronic disease and 50% have at least two.  There are 78 million Boomers in the U.S. and by 2025 they will all be 60 or older.  That’s a lot of people with chronic disease.

The West Wireless Health Institute reports that chronic diseases make up 75% of our health care system’s $2.3 trillion costs.  While all of these people are not Boomers, as the years go on, the numbers will grow exponentially.

The takeaway

Boomers want to help manage their chronic disease care, they are willing to pay for the mobile apps to help them―but they need assistance in learning how to use the apps.  There’s an opportunity for health care providers to develop 12-step type app/disease management programs to help get this medical giant under control.

The national online survey (N=600 Smartphone Users) conducted June 19-21, 2012 by Mitchell Research & Communications, Inc. has a Margin of Error of + or – 4% at the 95% level of confidence.  It was paid for in its entirety by MitchellPR.

Mitchell Research, a national polling company based in East Lansing, Michigan, has been polling for the media since 1986.

Suzie Mitchell (@suziemitchell) is founder of MitchellPR a consulting firm focused on helping technology deliver mobile health and wellness apps to Baby Boomers.  A 30 year journalist and public relations veteran, she has a keen understanding of the 78 million person cohort. She is president of the nationally recognized marketing research, public relations and public affairs firm Mitchell Research & Communications, Inc. She writes the BoomerTech blog and a weekly blog for AARP called App of the Week.  She is co-author of the book, Growing into Grace: Adventures in Self Discovery through Writing, which assists women in finding peace with their lives as they age.

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