Mobile Health App Users Prefer Convenience Over Personal Information Security

Mobile Health App Users Prefer Convenience Over Personal Information Security

June 21, 2021 at 09:38PM

More bad news came out Monday (June 21) for healthcare patients who prefer to conduct their medical business using mobile apps: your personal information is most likely either already at risk or about to be, at least according to a recent study by Macquarrie University in Australia.

This as research showed most users click “I agree” on those long user agreements chock-full of legal mumbo jumbo without always realizing exactly what they are agreeing to. Most apps and their developers build in tools that allow them to share the data they collect from users with third parties who buy it to market to those people.

This prioritization of convenience is just one of many findings also revealed in PYMNTS new Connected Economy report which delved into the pros and cons and cost-benefit analysis that consumers feel when they technologically engage and the trade-offs that are being made.

According to the study, the benefits of digital connectivity clearly outweigh the costs as 9 out of 10 consumers said introducing digital tools has brought benefits to life in each of 10 pillar categories we examined, with convenience and saving time being the most commonly cited perks.

To that point, 86 percent of respondents said health apps enabled improvements, compared to only 54 percent who said they create problems. At the same time, one fifth of those we surveyed said they had received a digital payment from a healthcare provider and about one-third are considered highly connected when it comes to their healthcare interactions.

Balancing Security And Benefits

So maybe it’s not just a lack of eye-popping, overwhelming new features that is keeping some consumers from buying new connected devices. It could also be that they’re worried about the security of the information that their devices hold and who could potentially get their hands and eyes on it.

Everyone wants more information about themselves and their personal health, but the cost of having that information be seen by those who can use it to their advantage in terms of marketing — or even to create a ransomware situation — is very real and extremely concerning to other more cautious folks.

“Two-thirds of the apps could collect advertising identifiers and data cookies that track a user’s activity as they navigate the internet,” according to a recent study by Macquarrie University researchers.

“A third of the apps were programmed to collect a user’s email address — information that can be sold to bulk email advertisers — and about a quarter could provide developers with a user’s location,” according to the study’s findings.

Connected — Sometimes More Than We Want

PYMNTS research on connected devices from the end of last year shows there’s a clear divide and two very strong schools of thought when it comes to these tools. Some focus primarily on the security features and worry about data collection, while others just want whatever gadgets they can get.

More consumers are instead turning to connected devices like smartphones, laptops and voice assistants to perform multiple functions at any given time. Thirty-three percent of consumers now own voice assistants, in fact, up from 31 percent in 2019 and 27 percent in 2018. This shift underscores consumers’ increasing preference for multifunctional devices over those designed for specific use cases.

However, some device ownership traits never change. Two groups of connected consumers continue to own more devices than all the rest: superconnected consumers and bridge millennials.

Superconnected consumers — those who own at least eight connected devices — are more likely than all other consumers to own most types of connected devices we examined, with smart TVs being one of the few exceptions, according to our research.

What It Means For Mobile Health Apps

The fact that mobile health apps contain personal information that can be compromised and is being collected for use beyond medical purposes doesn’t trouble some people as much as it used to — or as much as it should.

It’s becoming an increasingly connected world and people are showing in their behaviors that they prefer the convenience that comes with mobile apps and doing things from wherever over the security that comes with doing these tasks face to face.

Taking steps to protect yourself and your information has been the missing link for many healthcare customers who let their fingers do the clicking when it comes to their medical needs. It’s not as easy as relying on HIPAA rules to keep that information safe and protected.

Encryption software and mobile wiping are two steps users can take to safeguard their information, along with being careful about sharing too much on social media and creating a strong password.

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