Consumer health apps & digital health tools proliferate, says new report from IQVIA Institute

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Digital therapeutics and digital care product apps for disease management are growing in number

IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science has released a new report ‘Digital Health Trends 2021: Innovation, Evidence, Regulation, and Adoption’ which talks about the increasing positive impact of digital health tools on health outcomes.

Murray Aitken, IQVIA senior vice president and executive director of the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science said, “We are finding evidence of a growing maturity of digital health tools in mainstream medicine. 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. These quality improvements result in robust evidence of their impact on patient outcomes and subsequent inclusion in clinical practice. The growing success of digital health is a testament to the value and sustained impact of its innovation that bodes well for further advances in medicine and healthcare moving forward.”

A few key highlights of the report include:

  • Growing maturity of digital health tools: Multiple types of digital health tools contributed to reducing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. These tools are now established parts of the digital health landscape. Consumer apps are the most widely used digital health tools, shifting rapidly toward disease-specific needs. But quality is inconsistent, and consumers need to be selective.
  • Digital Therapeutics and Digital Care products: Incorporating software as a means to treat, prevent or manage specific diseases or conditions has increased. More than 250 such products are now identified, including about 150 products commercially available and the rest in development.
  • Wearables and digital biomarkers: The use of wearables, connected sensors and digital biomarkers is expanding. They are gaining adoption in clinical trials and enabling remote monitoring of patients that can influence care delivery. Activity monitoring devices that measure heart rate, steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned account for about 55 percent of the 384 wearable devices currently marketed to consumers. Sensors and digital biomarkers are being incorporated into the design of clinical trials for pharmaceuticals and medical devices and are enabling decentralized and hybrid trials with home visits that reduce patient and investigator burden and accelerate clinical trial timelines.
  • Evidence: The body of evidence around the effectiveness of digital health apps is now substantial and supports the inclusion of digital health tools in treatment guidelines for an expanded set of health indications. These include cardiovascular applications and the management of some chronic conditions (e.g., pain). More than 2,000 efficacy studies have been published since 2007, including almost 1,500 published in the past five years.
  • Commercialization: Multiple commercialization pathways now exist for digital health tools. This expanded access offers opportunities for developers to attain an economic return on investment for those tools supported by robust evidence and user demand. Four broad commercial models are now in place and being used to pay or reimburse digital tool developers. Those models are direct-to consumer, value-based contracting, “device-like” reimbursement and “drug-like” reimbursement models
digital healthIQVIA
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