Title: Less Likely to Use Health Apps and Wearables: New Yale Studies Reveal Concerning Trends among Individuals at High Risk of Heart Disease
Subtitle: Effectiveness of Advanced Health Features on Wearables Questioned as Vulnerable Populations Remain Unengaged
Recent studies conducted by Yale University have shed light on a concerning trend – individuals with the highest risk of heart disease are less likely to use apps and wearables aimed at improving heart health. The implications of these findings raise questions about the effectiveness of investing in advanced health features on wearables if the people most at risk are unlikely to use them.
One study, which analyzed data from the National Cancer Institute’s Health Informational National Trends Survey, found that only two out of five US adults with or at risk of heart disease use health monitoring apps. This alarming figure suggests a significant gap between the potential benefits of health technology and its actual adoption among the population it is designed to help.
Moreover, the research uncovered that specific demographics were less likely to utilize health technology for improving heart health. Older individuals, men, and those with lower levels of education and income showed a reluctance to embrace these tools. Conversely, younger people, women, and Black individuals with higher education and income levels were more likely to use health apps.
Delving deeper into the issue, the researchers’ earlier study revealed that less than a quarter of US adults with cardiovascular disease utilize wearable devices, with only 18 percent of individuals with heart disease opting for these technologies. Despite tech companies adding advanced heart health features, such as FDA-cleared EKG capabilities and passive aFib monitoring, to their devices, the studies consistently show that those at highest risk for heart disease are unlikely to use this technology.
Adding to the evidence, a Pew Research report uncovered that smartwatch and fitness tracker usage is higher among households with higher income levels and college graduates. Further, a meta-analysis from 2021 concluded that health apps and wearables are more effective for the rich and have little impact on individuals with lower socioeconomic status.
These findings compel us to question the potential of investing in advanced health features on wearables if those most vulnerable to heart disease are not engaging with them. Despite the promise of these technologies to mitigate risks and improve overall heart health, the gap in usage among high-risk populations emphasizes the need for innovative strategies to bridge this digital divide.
As we move forward, it is essential to address the underlying barriers preventing the utilization of health apps and wearables among individuals at high risk of heart disease. By doing so, healthcare providers and technology developers can better tailor their offerings to improve inclusivity and ensure that these valuable tools reach those who need them the most.
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