Adoption of digital health tools could improve patient care and reduce treatment costs but a change in mindset is still required to make new technologies part of the mainstream, said Mario Muniz, Director General of IQVIA, at Mexico Health Summit 2019, held on Thursday at the Papalote Museo del Niño in Mexico City.

“Boosting adoption of health apps to improve care for patients with diabetes, asthma, pulmonary rehabilitation, cardiac rehabilitation and diabetes prevention could lead to savings of US$7 billion in the US,” said Muniz.

According to Muniz, there are over 318,000 health-related apps globally and 200 new ones are created every day. Moreover, 40 percent of all apps are oriented toward disease management rather than on wellness monitoring. “Companies are using apps for insurance purposes, to follow up on treatments and register symptoms. In terms of diseases, 28 percent of all apps are focused on mental health and behavioral disorders, 16 percent on diabetes and 11 percent on heart disease,” he said.

The innovative use of sensors has also helped apps track more indicators, including calories, steps, heart rate and sleep patterns. “Sensors are now used for smart devices focused on user experience, digital diagnostics with increased reliability and clinical trials with increased recruitment speed, more effective monitoring and follow-up,” said Muniz.

However, the number of apps appearing in the market means an increased offering for patients that does not always comply with basic quality standards. To tackle this issue, IQVIA released its AppScript Score Overview to measure the quality of apps based on different factors, including the patient, the app’s development and its capabilities in terms of disease management, wellness and prevention.

Today, Muniz says 20 percent of health industry professionals use digital health tools, 26 percent of all physicians recommend digital apps and 13 percent use remote monitoring to follow up on patient development. In 10 years, Muniz expects digital health to become the new normal for most organizations.

“There are still doubts regarding data security and the legal framework regarding digitalization. We also need electronic medical records and digital prescriptions to boost adoption of digital health tools. However, the main issue we need to tackle is mindset, both of companies and patients. A change in mindset will be the only way to take advantage of the potential of these tools,” he said.

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