Survey: Many boomers trust doctors to recommend health apps

By Neil Versel

iPad medicalIt's long been said that baby boomers are the ones who will challenge the archaic notion that the doctor always knows best. At least when it comes to mobile apps, that does not seem to be the case, a survey suggests.

In a poll of 600 smartphone-using baby boomers by Mitchell Research & Communications, an East Lansing, Mich.-based polling and political consulting firm, 60 percent said a physician was most likely to make them download an app for health or wellness. Family members came in a distant second, at 18 percent, while only 5 percent said friends would be the ones to convince them to download a health app.

Mitchell says that 24 percent of the nation's 78 million baby boomers own smartphones. The U.S. Census Bureau defines the boomer generation as those born between 1946 and 1964.

According to the survey, conducted in June, 57 percent of boomers with smartphones would download an app providing mobile access to general medical information. But only 48 percent of those queried would get an app for monitoring a specific chronic disease and 47 percent indicated they were likely to download a mobile app to keep track of weight and exercise.

The numbers, naturally, rise for those actually living with a chronic disease. According to Mitchell, 24 percent of boomers have been diagnosed with heart disease and/or diabetes. Among diabetics surveyed, 70 percent are likely to download a diabetes-related app, and half of those with heart disease probably would want an app to help them manage their condition.

"People with serious diseases will download apps to help them live longer," company President and CFO Suzie Mitchell, says in a press release.

"Given the seriousness of the problem [with chronic diseases], our poll shows mobile apps may be part of the solution," Mitchell adds in a Mitchell PR blog post. Mitchell PR is a West Bloomfield, Mich.-based marketing subsidiary of Mitchell Research dedicated to helping its clients target the boomer generation.

Boomers generally being an affluent lot, 71 percent of those surveyed said they were willing to pay for health and medical apps, and half of this group would spend as much as $10 per download. But even many people without a lot of money see value in smartphone apps. About 52 percent of boomers making between $25,000 and $50,999 a year would download health apps, about the same as their peers who earn at least $151,000.