Survey shows doctors, patients want to embrace apps

The downloading population is up from 13% two years ago for healthcare wellness or medical apps.
The downloading population is up from 13% two years ago for healthcare wellness or medical apps.

Incentives work. Mobile outreach, as seen by efforts including United Healthcare's maternity app and the long-running Text4Baby program, also works.

An assessment by PwC's Health Research Institute, however, homes in on a few items that are not working when it comes to mobile health. Among them: a need for healthcare providers to be able to assess what qualifies as a worthy, prescription-worthy app. The doctors are not particularly dependent on FDA approval: PWC said the survey of 1,000 healthcare professionals showed that “physicians are open to a variety of health apps,” and that only 26% told the research group that they considered an endorsement by the regulatory agency important. In fact, the majority told PwC “it was more important that the app was recommended by a peer or written about in a peer-reviewed journal.”

Consumers have already embraced FDA-free health apps, and PWC said 28% of consumers have a healthcare, wellness or medical app on their smartphones. Although users said they generally only use one or two on a weekly basis, the downloading population is up from 13% two years ago.

Healthcare professionals tell PwC that they favor the data aggregation that these apps provide, but that they need to go beyond becoming data reservoirs if they are to be of real value, which means being able to move data out of apps or devices and into electronic health records and whatever other channels practices are using to track patient health and well-being.

Further, PwC said 56% of patients said it would be fine to share their health information across organizations if it meant they would get better care, and half said they “would be likely to use devices, attached to the phone for healthcare evaluations,” like checking for an infection or electro-cardiogram.