Study finds opportunities for mobile health apps to engage patients

IMS study finds dearth of apps for patients with chronic conditions

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — The "vast majority" of available mobile apps focused on health and wellness have limited functionality or evidence of value in advancing healthcare provision and outcomes, according to a new report by IMS Health.

The report, "Patient Apps for Improved Healthcare: From Novelty to Mainstream," by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, found that most efforts in app development have been focused on such aspects of overall wellness as diet and exercise, but don't address the needs of patients with multiple chronic conditions and who are older than 65 years.

IMS researchers surveyed the more than 43,000 health-related apps in the Apple App Store, but found that only 16,275 were directly related to patient health and treatment.

"The movement toward digital therapeutics is clear," IMS Institute executive director Murray Aitken said. "Mobile health apps have the potential to drive a disruptive shift in patient engagement and healthcare delivery. Harnessing the power of apps has become a focal point of innovation, yet barriers remain to their broad and systematic use by providers and patients."

The study found that more than 90% of the apps reviewed scored less than 40 out of 100 possible points for functionality, based on 25 screening factors. Use of the apps is also limited: More than half of the apps have been downloaded fewer than 500 times, and five apps account for 15% of all downloads in the healthcare category.


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