Addictive mHealth Apps

I first fell in love with the Center for Connected Health when I attended their Connected Health Sympoisum a few years back. The organization is run by Joseph Kvedar who is one of my favorite thought leaders when it comes to mobile health. He’s optimistic, but pragmatic in his approach to mobile health. Plus, he’s not afraid to be transparent in his thoughts and approach to using technology to improve health. A great example of this was his recent blog post titled “Could Mobile Health Become Addictive?

The answer to his question is yes, but there’s so much more to the article. I particularly love his changing view of the value of mobile health applications versus something like a simple text message. No doubt there has been some “irrational exuberance” around mobile health applications. While the energy has no doubt outpaced the results, that shouldn’t discount the potential of mobile health applications.

Joseph Kvedar points out in his article that “those of us who own smart phones check them obsessively (by some counts 150 times/day).” No doubt many cell phone users are addicted to their cell phones. I’m not sure all the neuro chemical responses that we get from cell phone usage, but I’ve felt the endorphins kick in when you have a new message on your cell phone. This addiction probably also explains phantom vibration or phantom ringing.

The real question is how can we apply this type of addictive response to healthcare apps? Plus, how can we make sure that it becomes a healthy addiction. We’ve all heard of the person who’s too addicted to fitness or too addicted to self monitoring that it becomes unhealthy. There’s definitely a balance, but I’m sure that the day will come that mobile health apps are as addictive as a text message. I’ve started to see glimpses of it in the current mobile health offerings, but we’re not there on a widespread scale yet.

What mobile health applications or types of applications do you see that are headed down this path?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

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