Physician viewpoint: How to get patients to actually use digital health apps

Digital health apps offer major potential to make care delivery more effective and efficient, but to reap those rewards, clinicians and patients must both be on board.

In a recent review article for the journal npj Digital Medicine, four physicians from Boston-based Partners HealthCare described the challenges preventing widespread integration of digital health apps into clinical practice and presented a framework for encouraging that integration.

Here are the five key issues that must be addressed before apps are deployed on a greater scale across healthcare, according to the article's authors, who include Adam Landman, MD, CIO and digital innovation officer of Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital.

  • Increasing education and awareness of available technologies
  • Constructing digital formularies
  • Improving apps' integration into clinical workflows and EHRs
  • Establishing clear reimbursement models
  • Offering patient and provider support

"As work in digital health continues to expand, we expect more apps to become available, some of which will have evidence of efficacy and regulatory approval," the authors concluded. "Development and validation are just the first steps. For apps to be used, they must be integrated into clinical practice. … Integrating apps into routine clinical practice will be essential for digital health to achieve its full potential."

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