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A report by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science shows that digital health tools are proliferating and increasingly having a positive impact on health outcomes, with some becoming an integral part of mainstream medicine.
Executive director Murray Aitken remarked that "while there has been a significant growth in apps and digital health tools since 2013, we are beginning to detect improved quality of the digital health tools in the management of health conditions." He added that "these quality improvements result in robust evidence of their impact on patient outcomes and subsequent inclusion in clinical practice."
According to the report, more than 90,000 new consumer health apps were released last year, bringing the number of these that are currently available to over 350,000 at last count. In addition, rather than focusing on wellness management, the reports says apps are increasingly centred on helping consumers manage their conditions, with apps for mental health, diabetes and cardiovascular care making up almost half of disease-specific apps. Consumer disease management apps accounted for 47% of the most widely used digital health apps in 2020, up from 28% in 2015, and are also gaining endorsements by healthcare professionals, approvals by regulatory bodies, and reimbursements by payers.
The use of wearables, connected sensors and digital biomarkers is expanding as well, enabling decentralised clinical trials and remote monitoring of patients. Meanwhile, evidence of the positive impact of digital tools on patient outcomes is also piling up and becoming "more robust," according to the report, a trend it says supports their inclusion in treatment guidelines for an expanded set of health conditions, including cardiovascular applications and the management of some chronic conditions such as pain.
"Commercialisation is also maturing, with multiple pathways now established, and approval and reimbursement by payers and employers propelled by pandemic-driven efforts to accelerate use of digital health tools," IQVIA said.
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