By Dan Munro, Contributor
OCTOBER 31, 2013 – That’s the finding of a new report on mobile health apps by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics (free PDF here). In true mobile fashion, it’s also available in the iTunes store (here).
Some of the other results of the recent study included these:
1. Every app categorized as “health and wellness” or “medical” in Apple’s AAPL -0.62% iTunes store was reviewed
2. Of the 43,000+ mobile health apps assessed for the report – only 23,682 were classified with a legitimate health function
3. 5 apps accounted for 15% of all downloads
4. 16,275 were considered patient facing
5. 7,407 were considered provider facing
6. Smartphone use is lowest (18%) in the 65+ demographic
7. More than 90% of the apps tested scored less than 40 on a scale of 100
8. Apps were further categorized by 7 capabilities:
- – Inform (10,840 apps)
- – Instruct (5,823 apps)
- – Record/Capture data (5,095 apps)
- – Display User entered data
- – Guide
- – Remind/Alert (1,357 apps)
- – Communicate
- – None of the 7 capabilities (1,622 apps)
The report itself is over 50 pages and is among the more comprehensive and recent to review the mobile health app space.
These criteria include, but are not limited to, the type and quantity of information provided by the app, how the app tracks or captures user data, the communication processes utilized by the app, and the quantity of device capabilities included in the app. In addition to looking at this result, weightings are applied specific to the category of the app. For example, in a condition management app there will be a higher value placed on results that focus on doctor communications than there would be for a reference app.
This scoring system was used for all consumer oriented healthcare apps with at least one assessed level of functionality as defined in Figure 4, and confirmed that the majority of apps have only simple functionality. This scoring system is based on our independent and objective assessment of the app functionality and does not reflect patient/user evaluation, physician evaluation, or evidence that users benefit from their use from an outcomes perspective. IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics Report: Patient Apps for Improved Healthcare (October, 2013)
In order for healthcare apps “to move from novelty to mainstream,” the report highlighted four areas that need to be addressed:
* Evidence of clinical efficacy needs to be both outcomes and cost based for payers and providers to support and endorse patient use
* Robust security and privacy assurances (and liability)
* Apps need some level of curation for healthcare professionals to recommend
* Integration with other parts of patient care – including personal and electronic health records as well as patient portals
I found the report to be well worth reading and valuable insight into one of healthcare’s fastest moving market segments.
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