If a growing number of health and fitness tracking devices are to help people become healthier, it would help if people who had chronic illnesses used them.
But that’s not often the case, according to data released today by the Pew Research Center, in what it says is the first national survey measuring how people with chronic health conditions like high blood pressure and cancer track their own health.
The survey found that some 45% of the U.S. adult population reported having a chronic condition, and, unsurprisingly, these people tended to be older than the general population and less likely to use the Internet (even independent of their age, income, or education).
So while 70% of adults with a chronic illness did track their health, “pen and paper” was still the most popular tracking method (43%), followed by “just keeping track in their heads” (41%).
The report, which surveyed 3,104 U.S. adults, notes: “Technology plays a minor role–14% of trackers living with chronic conditions use a medical device like a glucometer and a handful use an app, a spreadsheet, or website to keep track of symptoms and other health indicators.”
Tracking by any method does have a benefit for the people who do it, the survey respondents reported, and if technology can help ease the way, that’s all the better. A recent study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that people with chronic illness account for a whopping 84% of overall U.S. health care costs. and the majority of that spending goes to people under the age of 65).