Digital health apps ‘could save US healthcare system $46bn annually’

Use of digital solutions for health condition management could save the United States healthcare system up to $46bn, according to a recent report from the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. It revealed the use of digital health apps for diabetes prevention, diabetes management, asthma, cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation may save the healthcare industry in the United States up to $4.5 billion, more than half of which could be attributed to reduced prescription costs. 

More than 571 published studies highlight the clinical benefits of digital health solutions. The report found these apps are particularly useful for treating diabetes, depression, and anxiety. The analysis suggested digital health apps for diabetes prevention, diabetes management, asthma, cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation alone could save up to $7bn each year. Extrapolating this data across the whole U.S. healthcare system, it indicated increased uptake of digital health apps and solutions could save up to $46bn. 

In the report, David Vinson, founding director and vice chairman of Xcertia and founder of the DHX group, commented: “I would say that if you don’t have digital medicine and digital therapeutic services in your Digital Health strategy out of an integrated delivery network, you’re probably not in business today because of what’s required under value-based care. You’ve got to create a stronger relationship with the patient.” 

Last year, a survey of 1,300 physicians conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA) found that 85 percent of physicians believe digital health solutions are advantageous to patients. It also revealed physicians are optimistic digital health could potentially boost efficiency within their practice, improve patient care, and increase diagnostic capability.

More than 318,000 apps for health condition management are currently available, up from just 66,000 in 2013. Apps to help manage mental health and behavioral disorders are currently the most prolific, accounting for 28 percent of health condition management apps. The second most popular are applications for patients with diabetes (16 percent). 

One particularly exciting area of growth in digital diabetes management is the development of Continuous Glucose Management (CGM) systems. At the 77th American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in San Diego, Howard Wolpert MD, vice president of medical innovation at the Lilly Cambridge Innovation Center, said: “What I’m excited about is CGM is coming of age, connected devices, and cloud computing - we have the potential to change diabetes care.” In September 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first continuous monitoring system for adults that does not require blood sample calibration using a fingerstick, but instead reads data from a sensor placed under the skin. 

MdSpark is a digital solution to help patients find competitively priced medical practitioners in their area. Users pay an upfront and transparent fee for services, while physicians benefit from an easy route to market for services and assurance they will be reimbursed for treatments and consultations.