Apps pose big promise as a change agent in mHealth

A lack of app adoption by providers and patients is one of several barriers facing digital tech use in healthcare, Karen Taylor, director at the UK Centre for Health Solutions at Deloitte, writes in a blog post.

Despite the vast number of apps available--more than 100,000--only half of those have been downloaded more than 500 times, and only 450 are recommended by patient advocates, Taylors says, citing information gleaned from a study Deloitte conducted on digital health technology.

In addition, a good chunk of those apps aren't made to assist patients who have multiple chronic diseases. Such patients generally are among the top healthcare consumers, yet smartphone penetration--which is a key driver behind the explosion in health apps--is actually lowest among this group, Taylor writes.

Taylor's opinion closely aligns with another healthcare leader's view, Withings CEO and Co-Founder Cedric Hutchings. In a recent interview, Hutchings said that mHealth will bring about a paradigm change in healthcare. Taylor's opinion regarding tech adoption also falls in line with a recent Aetna/iTriage study that reveals a majority of iTriage users would adopt a health monitoring device if it was recommended by a physician.

Taylor points to new research which presents 10 recommendations for driving better patient self-care and offers app developers more sustainable models. She notes the research indicates key patient needs are essential in mHealth app adoption, such as providing users with knowledge on specific health issues and treatment, and better communication with a doctor or nurse. Patient-doctor engagement via mHealth is critical to future adoption, she writes.

"Without it, the potential for digital health and the rise of health consumerism to be a true change agent for the practice of healthcare will be undermined," Taylor says.

For more information:
- read the blog post