INDUSTRY WATCH: November/December 2015

The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics updated its study on mHealth apps done in 2013 and found with its 2015 study that the majority of mobile healthcare (mHealth) apps continue to be concentrated in the areas of wellness, diet, and exercise. Nearly a quarter of the apps focus on disease and treatment management.

The IMS study also looked at functionality and features. Here it found that over 50% of the apps continue to have limited functionality, with most providing only information. Only one in 10 apps has the capability to connect to a device or sensor, which improves the accuracy and convenience of the data collected.

Additional findings of the 2015 study were:

  • The ability for mHealth apps to connect to social media has increased by 8%.
  • Of the top mHealth apps, 65% connect to social media.
  • Connectivity of consumer mHealth apps with provider healthcare systems continues to be limited, with only 2% having this feature.

The number and variety of mHealth apps available present an overwhelming number of options for consumers, and without guidance from their healthcare provider, patients may either choose the most popular apps or try several apps in order to self-determine the best app for their particular situation. The study found that just 36 apps account for nearly half of all downloads.

The IMS study also found that providers show increasing interest in apps, and that more than a third of physicians report recommending mHealth apps to patients. The IMS study reports that the body of evidence that supports the use of mHealth apps to improve health outcomes and help manage costs is expanding, but the assessment of the results of this evidence from a quantity, quality, and safety perspective has been limited.