The Wild West of medical apps

iphonesymnavKEY TAKEAWAY: The majority of physicians are skeptical of health apps because they’re not sure if they record accurate data and if patients are using them correctly.  Pharma, if they want to develop apps, has to use the same processes to convince physicians that the apps are reliable.

“Doctors are getting progressively more comfortable prescribing apps,” Matt Tindall, general manager of IMS Health’s consumer solutions business, told mHealth News. “But they need help picking specific treatment and therapies for their patients.”

According to Tindall, IMS Health surveys indicate roughly 90 percent of physicians want to prescribe apps to their patients, but only one of every three actually do. That’s because they’re overwhelmed by the volume of healthcare-related apps and the effort involved in picking which apps would best be suited for their patients.

On the flip side, roughly 90 percent of consumers want their doctors to give them mHealth tools, but they need motivation and continued engagement. Of those who do download apps, only about 20 percent are still using them after one month.

Earlier this year I flew around the country to listen to both patients and doctors talk about apps. The key findings indicate..

1ne: Doctors do NOT want to prescribe/recommend treatments based on data in apps unless they are sure that the apps provide accurate data.


2wo: Some health conditions warrant apps, MS and diabetes, for example, but others do not (depression).  While the majority of time in smartphones is spent with apps they have to be easy to use and provide patients with meaningful utility.

4our: When patients communicate health concerns to doctors, outside of the office, it results in a recommendation to make an appointment or go to the ER.


5ive: Patients want apps to go beyond medicine; that is, they want tips on living with chronic conditions and integrating these health conditions into the “quality of life”.

What can pharma do?

-Develop apps based on good medical research.

-Test the apps in a clinical setting.

-Show better outcomes with patients using apps.

-Provide HCP’s with the tools they need to recommend apps to patients.

-Partner with/acquire app development house.