Research from consultancy company PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has revealed health related apps are among the fastest growing applications, signalling a growing fusion between traditional ways of accessing health related information and digital culture.
The PwC data suggests that health app adoption doubled between 2013 and 2015. This does not mean, of course, all apps are used frequently. The problem that most app developers find is that 90 percent of downloaded apps are used just once and they are then deleted (according to research from Compuware.) The key is, therefore, to get a user into the habit of using an app on a few occasions; repeated use in the early stages normally leads to continued use for a long period of time.
A review of the more popular health apps available has been undertaken by Christine Jacob, for Pharmaceutical Forum. In the review Jacobs looks at non-promotional, patient-centric apps. The key developments include:
Apps for medical adherence
Apps can be used to remind patients to take medicines. Similar reminders can be used by clinical trial companies to remind participants to take required medications. However, with the latter, there are strict regulatory hurdles to overcome in order to protect those taking part in the trial.
A study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology has revealed the usefulness of such apps (see: “Remote Usability Testing and Satisfaction with a Mobile Health Medication Inquiry System in CKD.”)
Apps for taking medicines
Several pharmaceutical companies have launched apps to guide patients with the correct use of medicines. Examples include:
Skin Peace app, sponsored by Bayer. This is to help patients calculate appropriate medicine doses.
ViaOpta app, sponsored by Novartis, designed to help the visually impaired
Eczema Care, which is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. It is designed to help patients better manage eczema.
These examples, together with the recent growth in app downloads, signal a new direction for accessing health advice through digital innovation. As an aside, Zillion, a software startup company, has tweeted about a study that ranks countries based on their involvement with digital health apps.