From addressing depression to fertility, mHealth apps continued their dominance in 2018.
As digitization has risen over the years, mobile health (mHealth) apps have too. And in 2018, many apps and initiatives hit the market to address issues such as substance use disorder, anxiety disorder, depression and fertility. Surveys also revealed that while many consumers have downloaded at least one mHealth app, physicians are not confident recommending them to their patients.
>> READ: Our Top 8 Health-Tech Research Stories of 2018
And since there are no signs of the digital age slowing down in 2019, we at Healthcare Analytics News™ wanted to highlight some of the top mHealth stories of the year. Using our analytics and after making some difficult choices about our most interesting pieces this year, we have compiled this list in descending order.
6. FDA Approves Marketing of First mHealth Solution for Contraception
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a mobile app called Natural Cycles that allows women to avoid pregnancy by a method known as fertility awareness. The first mHealth solution of its kind, the app had a “perfect use” failure rate of 1.8 percent during clinical trials. Would you trust an mHealth app to determine your fertility?
5. After FDA Approval, Pear Therapeutics Releases Drug Treatment mHealth App reSET
A prescription-based mHealth app for patients with substance use disorder hit the App Store this November. reSET is the first prescription digital therapeutic authorized by the FDA, and when combined with outpatient therapy, the app has significantly improved drug abstinence and treatment retention compared to standard of care alone.
4. Can mHealth Apps and Text Messages Get Teens to Exercise?
This was an interesting one — teens seem to spend a majority of their time staring at their phones. But what if there were mHealth apps that could help increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior in adolescents? While research on this idea was too wide-ranging, making it difficult for researchers to target whether mHealth apps and text messages resulted in improved physical activity, it may be worth a deeper look.
3. mHealth Apps: Trust the Studies, Not the Stars
When people are about to make a purchase in a store or online, many look at reviews of the product. And that has proven to be a similar method when people are looking at which mHealth apps they should use. But through thematic analysis on the Instant Blood Pressure app, researchers at Johns Hopkins University proved that despite having 4.8 stars in the App Store, the app’s readings were highly inaccurate. While users praised the accuracy of the app, the studies provided clearer insights.
2. mHealth Might Solve Our Prisons’ Mental Health Problem
mHealth apps could usher in a new type of care for U.S. prisoners with mental health disabilities such as bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia. The National Institute of Mental Health believes that tech could aid struggling prisoners by helping them manage medications, educating them on coping skills and forecasting when an individual may need emotional support via built-in sensors.
1. Finding mHealth Apps that Doctors Can Trust
There is a glaring disparity between physicians and patients when talking about mHealth apps. A survey revealed that more than half of consumers had downloaded at least one health app, but only one in three physicians recommends wellness apps to their patients. Due to physician skepticism about mHealth apps, Paul Cerrato, M.A, and John Halamka, M.D., M.S., offer physicians suggestions on how to properly assess the benefits and usage of these apps. Because whether physicians like it or not, if the quality of mHealth apps continues to improve in 2019, their prevalence will just keep growing.
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