1 in 3 Canadians regularly use mobile health apps

Roughly 33 percent of Canadians use mobile apps that help maintain or improve individuals' health.

Whether it's to keep track of their daily footsteps or monitor their weight levels, Canadians are making use of health apps available for download, according to a newly released survey.

Approximately one-third of Canadians – the equivalent of around 12 million, based on the country's population – have a health-related application on their smartphones and tablets, a recent poll conducted by Canada Health Infoway has determined. Additionally, most health app users across the nation are college-educated (55 percent) and gainfully employed.

Michael Green, Canada Health Infoway CEO, indicated that well-being tracking apps have struck a chord with the health conscious throughout the nation.

"The findings of the study demonstrate the opportunity Canadians have to be proactive in their overall wellness through the use of mobile apps and smart connected devices such as watches, wristbands or other wearables," Green explained.

App use in Canada rose 74 percent in 2016
Mobile device apps have only grown more ubiquitous and widely used since their inception. Indeed, according to the most recent estimates available from Yahoo, Canadians' app use soared nearly 75 percent in 2016, ITBusiness.ca reported. That's well ahead of the 11 percent uptick in year-over-year usage worldwide.

But exercise and weight aren't the only aspects of health Canadians use mobile apps for. They're also effective in tracking vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate and even oxygen uptake for individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. COPD is a generalized term that can refer to one of several conditions related to poor lung health that's ongoing, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis and refractory asthma, according to the COPD Fundation. 

"I'm used to showing up at the emergency room or being admitted every couple of months," said Nancy Huyck, who deals with the effects of COPD every day since she was formally diagnosed. Huyck told Health Infoway that her app is both a life and a time saver.

"I haven't seen the inside of a hospital or even a walk-in clinic since I started receiving in-home monitoring last spring," Huyck added.

Only 28 percent of those with chronic condition use health apps
In addition to being university-educated and employed full-time, the typical health app user in Canada also makes an annual family income of approximately $80,000 and is for the most part is in good overall shape. Interestingly, the poll of roughly 4,100 Canadians determined that just 28 percent of respondents in poor condition use health apps on a regular basis.

Jacqueline Dube, president and general manager of research and innovation organization CEFRIO, said health care organizations and hospitals should take every effort to make health apps more widely available to their patients, such as through awareness campaigns.

"It is in the interest of the Canadian health system to rapidly put in place the necessary frameworks in order to take advantage of this connected and informed user base and thus enhance the patient-doctor relationship," Dube advised.

She also referenced from the poll how approximately 4 in 10 mobile app users who track their health with smart devices are in a better position to meet with their primary care physician because they have more information about their well-being that their doctors can use.

When apps first reached the consumer market, some people question whether they had staying power. The data suggests they're no mere passing fad. According to the Information and Communications Council, more than 64,000 Canadians are in the app distribution and production business. That number is expected to grow substantially, as 50,000 new jobs are anticipated to be created between 2012 and 2019.