The impact of Digital Health on patient care is accelerating with the increasing adoption of mobile health apps and wearable sensors. Health-related mobile applications available to consumers now surpass 318,500—nearly double the number available just two years ago—with approximately 200 new apps added to the market each day. This rapid app expansion, coupled with more than 340 consumer wearable devices on the market worldwide, and 571 published efficacy studies, provide evidence of Digital Health’s accelerating innovation and generation of a subset of proven tools to impact human health, according to a new report released today by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science.
While general wellness apps still account for most mobile health apps available, the number of apps focused on health condition management—those often associated with patient care—are increasing at a faster rate, representing 40% of all health-related apps.
The report found the sheer volume of available apps presents an overwhelming amount of options for consumers, resulting in 85% of all health apps having fewer than 5,000 downloads. However, there are some clear category leaders within the space, where 41 apps have registered at least 10 million downloads, together representing nearly half of all app download activity. Separately, there is also now at least one high-quality app for each step of the patient journey—an encouraging finding for patient outcomes. Use of just five of these top health apps could save the U.S. healthcare system an estimated $7 billion per year.
The study, The Growing Value of Digital Health: Evidence and Impact on Human Health and the Healthcare System, is the most comprehensive of its kind conducted to date and extends the Institute’s landmark examination of consumer-focused mobile apps in the health system conducted in 2015. For the new report, researchers drew on IQVIA’s proprietary AppScript data and analytics platform, including the AppScript App Database, the AppScript Clinical Evidence Database, the AppScript Score app quality rating system, and the AppScript Essentials Value Model to provide the first exhaustive global assessment of overall app quality, clinical evidence, and implications for health outcomes and care costs. This includes an analysis of 22,357 unique healthcare apps available in the U.S. Apple iTunes and Android app stores—a representative sample of the most widely used Digital Health apps by consumers. As part of the study, the Institute also conducted additional primary research using the AppScript Device Database, ClinicalTrials.gov Database, as well as structured interviews with health- and technology-focused thought leaders and executives on the role of Digital Health in regards to patient care.
“The research suggests an inflection point is occurring within Digital Health trends regarding innovation, evidence and adoption,” said Murray Aitken, executive director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. “The convergence of those three digital drivers combined with other macro factors, aligns with the development of the newly defined, and emerging discipline of human data science that combines advances in information, transformative technology and analytics with human data beyond the patient journey to measure and improve health decisions and outcomes. Within that context, we believe the growing innovation, evidence and adoption of Digital Health tools can have an increasingly positive impact on human health outcomes overall.”
The report’s key findings include the following: