Patient Adoption of mHealth

This report provides an update to the mHealth landscape analysis that was published by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics in 2013. Over the past two years, there has been progress in understanding and addressing the barriers to more mainstream adoption of mHealth. However, for mHealth to fully contribute to improving the delivery of healthcare, further multi-stakeholder effort is required. 

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The number of mHealth apps available to consumers now exceeds 165,000 presenting an overwhelming amount of options. Consumers, without guidance from their provider, may choose the most popular apps or try out several in an attempt to self-determine what is best for them. While the absolute number of mHealth apps has increased, over 50% of mHealth apps continue to have limited functionality; however, capability of apps to connect to sensors has improved. Healthcare providers show an increased interest in the use of mHealth apps for improving patient engagement and the delivery of care, but barriers remain to full adoption. These barriers include lack of scientific evidence, limited healthcare system integration, regulator and privacy unknowns and few  provisions for reimbursement. The speed of full adoption will be determined by the prioritization of stakeholders in the mHealth ecosystem. 

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Below, IMS Institute Executive Director Murray Aitken discusses key findings in this report. Click here to view additional videos from this report.

Key Findings

Over 165,000 mHealth apps are now available to consumers but most continue to have limited functionality  

  • A total of 36 apps account for nearly half of all downloads and 40% of all apps have fewer than 5,000 downloads
  • One in ten apps now has the capability to connect to a device or sensor, which greatly improves the accuracy and convenience of data collection
  • Innovative devices and wearables and are expected to grow to monitor greater amounts of health data
  • Over 90% of mHealth apps remain free to consumers

Chronic disease is a key area of interest for the use of mHealth in improving patient engagement and outcomes

  • An evidence base for mHealth app use is emerging from studies of type II diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular health and obesity
  • The number of clinical trials utilizing mHealth apps has more than doubled in the last 2 years, focusing on treatment and prevention of disease, and largely focused on the senior population
  • mHealth clinical trials are examining apps for mental health, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight management and oncology

Mainstream adoption of mHealth requires prioritization and effort across all stakeholders in the Health ecosystem

  • Clinical organizations such as the CDC, ASCO and the Cancer Support Community are tapping into their clinical resources to develop and promote patient-centered apps
  • More tools are needed to assist healthcare providers in navigating available mHealth apps in order to drive mainstream adoption of mHealth

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