Digital health could be, might be, is poised to…..

KEY TAKEAWAY:[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] There are over 318,000 health apps and 340 consumer wearable devices are now available worldwide[/inlinetweet].  Since 2015, over 153,000 new Digital Health apps were introduced to the Apple Store and Google Play, nearly doubling the number available, with more than 200 health apps being added each day and those  focused on health condition management — often associated with patient care — are growing and now account for 40% of all apps.  But in order for digital health to really “take off” consumers have to use them as designed and physicians have to believe that the data is accurate.

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Over 55% of the most downloaded health apps now use sensor data, with significant adoption of consumer wearables like Fitbit and Jawbone for wellness management being a key driver of this phenomenon.[/inlinetweet]

Although the range of health apps available present an overwhelming amount of options for consumers to choose from without guidance from their healthcare provider, there are now established leaders among apps for consumers to use.[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] Just 41 apps with over 10 million downloads each account for nearly half of all app downloads while over 85% of all health apps have fewer than 5,000 installs. [/inlinetweet]

[pullquote]Only 26% of clinicians recommend patient engagement technologies and 13% use remote patient monitoring technologies, according to an American Medical Association (AMA) survey.[/pullquote]

Those are the facts, but the hype is blowing these facts out of proportion.  So let’s look at the two challenges of digital health.

1ne: Will consumers use them an designed and will they take action based upon the data?

Well, let’s look at the primary cause of Type 2 diabetes, obesity.  There is an urgency for greater action to improve diabetes outcomes and reduce the global burden of diabetes now affecting more than 425 million people, of which one-third are people older than 65 years.  

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]If nothing is done, the number of people with diabetes may rise to 693 million in 2045[/inlinetweet], although positively the incidence has started to drop in some high income countries. At the same time, a further 352 million people with impaired glucose tolerance are at high risk of developing diabetes. [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]By the end of this year, 4 million deaths will happen as a result of diabetes and its complication[/inlinetweet]

Type 2 diabetes can largely be prevented by diet and exercise yet American’s show very little desire to watch what they eat and exercise.  Do we really believe that a wearable device is going to change that?

Then there are digital health consumers.  Digital health often reminds users that they have a chronic health issue which has to be monitored plus they have to use their digital health apps and devices the right way.  I’m not sure they will.

2wo: Are physicians willing to act on the data and diagnose patients based on the data of digital health?

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]In a number of different market research settings with HCP’s are NOT willing to act on data from digital health.[/inlinetweet] They order “more tests” and take it from there.  Until digital health is clinically proven to improve patient outcomes I don’t think they will pay much attention to them.

Some digital health providers are trying to work with HCP’s to increase penetration of digital health, but there are just too many out there.

Despite all this digital health is going to happen, it just needs a shakeout from all the hype and getting HCP’s on board but until then buyer beware.