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The number of mobile health applications available to consumers now surpasses 165,000, as developers incorporate innovative data collection features linked to sensors and wearables, according to a new report released today by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. While most available apps focus on overall wellness, healthcare systems and professionals are expressing greater interest and excitement in broader app use as barriers to mainstream adoption of mHealth are removed-especially in the area of chronic disease management.
The IMS Institute study found that one in ten apps now has the capability to connect to a device or sensor, providing biofeedback and physiological function data from the patient and greatly extending the accuracy and convenience of data collection. Nearly a quarter of consumer apps are now focused on disease and treatment management, while two-thirds target fitness and wellness. The number and variety of mHealth apps present an overwhelming set of options for consumers, resulting in 40 percent of apps having fewer than 5,000 downloads.
The study, Patient Adoption of mHealth: Use, Evidence and Remaining Barriers to Mainstream Acceptance, extends the IMS Institute's examination of consumer-focused mobile apps in the health system conducted in 2013. Researchers drew on IMS Health's proprietary AppScript Score database and analysis of 26,864 apps available in the US Apple iTunes and Android app stores-a representative sample of the most widely used mHealth apps by consumers.
As part of the study, the IMS Institute also conducted structured interviews with health- and technology-focused thought leaders and executives on the role and status of healthcare apps.
"While much progress has been made over the past two years, mHealth apps are still far from being a fully integrated component of healthcare delivery. Healthcare providers are actively addressing the remaining barriers. These include developing and adopting trusted platforms for ongoing apps curation and evaluation, creating practical reimbursement models and ensuring true interoperability within and across healthcare systems," said Mr Murray Aitken, executive director of the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.