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Type of population that use health care appsNearly everyone can take advantage of health care applications. With a possession of a smart phone, one can easily download a health care application that is ready to help them keep track of health related information. However, studies shows only a percentage of the population tend to use health care applications. In a population based survey done by the institute of medical sociology in Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, currently only one fifth of smartphone users actually use health related applications.
Application users tend to be younger, more educated, and health literate individual, which is the majorty of the users. Same for people with chronic conditions, they are more likely to use health applications compared to those without chronic conditions, as it may help people better control their condition and reduce number of visits to the doctor. (Using Smartphones and Health Apps to Change and Manage Health Behaviors: A Population-Based Survey, 2017) For the senior population, a longitudinal survey done in 2011-2014, found that people (mean age 75 years) used digital health at low rates. There were indications of modest increases from 2011 to 2014 in the rate of use. There were also some increases regarding the number of seniors, 75 and older, using health applications from 2011 to 2014. (Trends in Seniors’ Use of Digital Health Technology in the United States, 2011-2014). This servy give a conclusion that for most seniors, digital health technology is not being well understood. Most of the question is associated with socioeconomic disparities, application’s ability to improve quality, cost, and safety of their health care. In the future, develpers should focus on usability, and scalability to improve the range and effectiveness of health care applications for seniors.
On the health care development side, different types of health care apps are specifically designed to target a population within the application market. As previously discussed, there are three main types of health care applcations: daily fitness tracking, clinical care and professional health care software. Daily fitness apps are low risk software, so these apps target the digital health aware population. Different apps are always designed for a a specific population and may or may not be useful for everyone. For example, apps with functions of tracking nutrition, help to maintain a healthy diet with weight loss, are for population that wants to achieve a desire eating habit and maintain their health. Apps that track exercise stats for population that are physically active, this can include all different types of casual or professional athletes. Apps that tracks female menstrual period can only be used to the full potential by females that are having regular menstration. Apps that track state of sleep and relaxation are mainly designed for people with anxiety or insomnia that can benefit from relaxation exercises. Clinical care applications are high risk software and it is designed for everyone to use. Clinical care apps are designed to help user deal with emergency and demanding situations, therefore malfunction can be catastraphic. The EMS apps are designed to recognize emergency situations, and it can react accordingly to relief the situation. (Fall detection feature on the Apple Watch S4, 2018)This function is especially useful for individual who participate in dangerous or extreme activities. The app can also act like the silent alarm in the bank, or recognize heart attack, stroke other medical emergencies.
Therefore, EMS apps targets everyone who might have these life threatening cases. There are also clinical care apps that deal with demanding, but not life threatening situation. Such as a bug bite, or occasional headache. These clinical apps help both client and doctors save time and resource. Thus, these apps target all potiental patients and doctors. For health app developers, they need to understand the width of the target population, such as everyone from children to elderly, to create an application that is usable for all. Developers also need to obtain knowledge on how the software should interact with the patients and doctors, so the app will work smoothly like a real clinic. Application with highest risk are those include accessory or replacement parts of medical devices that are used in professional health care settings. The software can be either embedded inside medical equipment, or be on smartphones, which directly function as a medical equipment. These applications targets indiviuals that are within hospital or clinical enviorment.
However, highly sensitive medical device associated applications can lead to the breach of confidentiality or, if not well designed, they might directly put the user/client in danger. For example, the device wrongly analyze the data and give wrong info to the health care practitioner. Because of this problem, the Canadian government states that manufacturers need to follow the “Medical Device Regulations” during the development of these applications.
For device that are responsible for more functions, a Medical Device License is required. (Health Canada’s Approach to Digital Health Technologies, 2018) Other than safty issues, Developers and designers also need to consider how their application can adopt to all different type of clients and decide the field or range of the functions need. It is the developer’s job to investigate what types of features that incorporate these targeted population’s common intersts and similar difficulties they might face.
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