Survey finds health apps, digital devices growing in popularity

Benefits plan members are increasingly using digital devices and mobile apps to improve their health, according to the 2020 Sanofi Canada health-care survey.

More than half (53 per cent) of plan members said they used at least one device or app in the past year to help them achieve a personal health or fitness goal, a significant increase from 32 per cent who said the same in 2015. Employees age 18 to 34 were much more likely (70 per cent) to use a device or app than those age 55 and older (31 per cent).

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While plan members who described themselves as being in excellent or very good health were more likely (38 per cent) than those in poor health (26 per cent) to use a device or app in 2015, the gap narrowed significantly this year to 60 per cent and 54 per cent, respectively.

As well, 56 per cent of plan members with chronic health conditions reported using a digital tool in the past year, up from 34 per cent in 2015, outpacing people without these conditions (47 per cent).“Plan members in poor health or with chronic conditions have become much more likely to use at least one digital health tool,” said Barb Martinez, practice leader in drug solutions at Canada Life Assurance Co. and a Sanofi Canada advisory board member, during a webinar last week. “Five years ago, the results suggested that people who are already in good health are more likely to use digital tools — which is still great — but it’s encouraging to see that the people who may benefit most from these tools have become more receptive to using them.”

The survey also found plan members were most likely to use fitness tracking devices such as Fitbit (28 per cent), followed by a mobile app, such as exercise or medication reminders (23 per cent). Fifteen per cent said they used websites to set personal goals and track their outcomes and a further 15 per cent reported using an online health risk assessment tool.

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