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The number of health apps is spiking, but they're also getting better.
If the mobile health apps available today were used by all patients in five therapy areas, the United States health care system could save $7 billion a year, according to a new report.
“There is substantial growth in digital health improving patient outcomes and improving savings,” said Murray Aitken, Executive Director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science (formerly QuintilesIMS Institute) during a media call discussing the report, “The Growing Value of Digital Health: Evidence and Impact on Human Health and the Healthcare System.”
IQVIA created a model that reviewed health apps’ impact on five patient groups “where there has been an acute reduction in hospitalization when apps are used,” Aitken said. The groups include diabetes prevention, diabetes care, asthma, cardiac rehabilitation, and pulmonary rehabilitation.
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“If this level of savings could be achieved across all disease areas, annual cost savings of $46 billion could be achieved,” Aitken said.
The number of health-related mobile apps for consumers have doubled in the past two years, with more than 318,500 available, IQVIA found. Another 200 new apps are added to the marketplace each day.
While general wellness apps still account for most mobile health apps available, the number of apps focused on health-condition management are increasing at a faster rate, representing 40% of all health-related apps.
However, the sheer volume of health apps available is overwhelming to consumers, according to the report. As a result, 85% of all health apps have fewer than 5,000 downloads.
“We still have a long way to go and we don’t want to overstate that health apps have become mainstream. That is not the case, but there is certainly a lot of progress being made,” Aitken said.
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Still, clinical evidence on the efficacy of digital health programs has grown substantially. There are now 571 published studies, enabling the identification of a list of apps with increasingly robust clinical evidence, according to the report. “Particularly compelling findings now exist for use in diabetes, depression and anxiety, making these categories strong candidates for inclusion in standard of care recommendations by clinical guideline writers,” IQVIA said in a statement.
In addition, the quality of health apps is rising. Fifty-five percent of the apps that launched within the past two years that are in IQVIA’s AppScript App Database have ratings higher than four stars, compared to 31% of those launched before 2015.