Poll Uncovers Usage Rates, Disparities Among Older Adults Using Health-Related Apps

Less than half (44%) of people age 50 to 80 have ever used a health-related app on their smartphone, wearable device or tablet, according to the new findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging.

Those who say they are in poor health, and those with lower incomes or levels of education, were far less likely to have ever used such apps. Half of those who haven’t ever used a health app, or have stopped using them, said they are not interested in using them.

Recent data show that 83% of people age 50 to 64, and 61% of people over age 65, own a smartphone, and just under half of people in each age group own a tablet device. That’s up from 34% of 50-64-year olds and 13% of those over 65 having a smartphone a decade ago, and even lower percentages having tablets at that time.

Despite this rise, the poll highlights disparities in the use of mobile health apps by income and education level, as well as age. It also shows that lack of awareness, or mistrust of the security of health apps may be holding many older adults back.

The poll is based at the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation and supported by AARP and Michigan Medicine, U-M’s academic medical center.

More information is available in the report here.