Healthcare apps have never been more popular, or more widely available. A recent IQVIA report states that over the last two years the number of healthcare apps has increased from 165,000 to 318,500. The top selling 41 apps have around 10 million downloads each, and it’s thought that around 200 new apps are being added to Google Play and Apple Store every day.
A few examples of these new healthcare apps include:
- Active 10 – Part of Public Health England’s “One You” campaign, this app is aimed at encouraging people to do at least 10 minutes brisk walking a day. People living in the UK are on average walking 15 miles less than they were 20 years ago. This app encourages adults to incorporate brisk walking into their lifestyles as a simple way of improving health.
- Evergreen Life – Fully approved by the NHS, Evergreen Life’s medical app is now connected to three major GP systems in the UK – EMIS, TPP and Vision – and has more than a quarter of a million users. The app allows users to book GP appointments, view their test results and order repeat prescriptions.
- Ada – Marketed as a “personal health companion app”, Ada aims to offer personalised care by combining doctor’s medical insight with artificial intelligence. With private investments in the enterprise recently topping £35 million, it is clear that investors consider digital health to be a growing industry that it is worth being a part of.
Top healthcare apps
The recent IQVIA report looked into the best health apps based on the top-rated free and publicly available apps as well as the top clinical rating apps (with the clinical ratings being calculated on reviews of the app’s content, usability, accuracy, efficacy and safety). Some of the best apps available based on their clinical rating are:
- Fitbit – This GPS-enabled app allows users to track their fitness activity and log their food intake. IQVIA’s report ranked this app as the top clinically rated app for exercise. Its goal is to “empower and inspire” people to live active and healthy lives.
- Echo – Users can request repeat prescriptions, and set reminders to take medication. The app is compatible with all NHS GP surgeries and so far more than 45,000 people have downloaded it.
- Headspace – This app provides users with guided meditation exercises and educational videos, and was rated top in the IQVIA report for stress management.
How do they benefit patients and healthcare?
Many of these apps fit into the area of “wellness”. They allow people to monitor their food intake, sleep patterns and exercise routine. By providing information and useful functions, these apps help guide people to decisions that will ultimately improve their health. For example, research has shown that improve adherence to medication can result in lower levels of healthcare utilisation and a decreased risk of hospitalisation. Apps which remind users to take their medication could help save the healthcare system money and contribute to improved outcomes.
In addition to this, mHealth apps have been used in more than 800 clinical trials worldwide. Thus they are also contributing to scientific advancement, using real-world evidence to potentially help to bring life-changing products to market.
The benefits of these apps are wide-ranging and their use is becoming more mainstream than ever. Authorities and national organisations are lending their support to these services in addition to private investors. The industry is growing rapidly and it’s likely that more companies will bring innovative healthcare products to market. MHealth should continue to empower patients and help to improve care.