The Big Problem With Mobile Health Apps

David Lee Scher, MD


March 04, 2015

In This Article

Insurers Need "App Formularies"

Medical apps will need to be universally covered before widespread adoption occurs. Insurers, like physicians, have the right to expect that apps are medically sound. Clinical trials are needed to determine which ones are. We can therefore expect to see "app formularies," much like drug formularies, ideally tiered by degree of effectiveness.

As more carriers turn to bundled payments vs fee-for-service models, the use of apps and other mobile technologies will increase, because of the expectation that apps will allow us to be more efficient in the way we follow and treat patients.

Although the concept of prescribing apps for our patients might seem remote now, it will become a reality at some point. Apps will deliver educational materials to patients and caregivers, send them office appointment and medication reminders, and remotely transmit meaningful data from our patients to us.

Changes in healthcare are characteristically slow. There will always be early adopters of technology, but the value proposition has to be compelling to both patients and physicians for apps to become part of everyday care.

We already rely on apps in many areas of our lives. We now routinely shop, bank, and communicate with social networks via apps. As healthcare catches up, apps will evolve into tools that will foster more involvement of patients in their own care. Better-educated patients—with better support and enhanced motivation—will become active partners with us in maintaining their health.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: