New York, NY — Today’s best health apps have come a long way from their humble beginnings as simple medication reminders and symptom trackers. They’ve evolved to automatically track activity, effectively educate patients, efficiently coordinate care, and even bring some clarity to the enigmatic insurance landscape. The newest generation of health apps is raising the bar even further.

For starters, take a look back at the powerful new prostate cancer app that my colleague Zach Friedman mentioned in his HXP article last week. Here’s a quick refresher: patients diagnosed with prostate cancer navigate a complex and challenging array of treatments ranging from simply watching and waiting all the way to radiation and a variety of surgeries. The more invasive options come with serious baggage, including incontinence and impotence. The app’s power comes from an embedded algorithm and simple user interface — patients answer a series of questions regarding their treatment goals and personal preferences, then the app suggests the approach that best fits. From here, they can use the app to send results to their physician and to set the stage for a much improved doctor-patient conversation.

Another bright spot on the radar is PeerWell’s PreHab app. It helps patients be better prepared both mentally and physically for an upcoming hip or knee surgery through background education, setting appropriate expectations, and providing a peer-to-peer network for support. The company’s CEO Manish Shah stated “It’s a fully automated way to guide patients through the six weeks between the surgery scheduling and when they go back to the hospital that really feels like a personal experience, makes them feel more comfortable and also improves clinical efficiency.”


Why This Matters –


Since the Apple App Store’s birth nearly a decade ago, hundreds of thousands of health and fitness apps have flooded the market, some great, many much less to (to say the least).  A 2015 survey found that more than half of all smartphone users had downloaded a health or fitness app onto their device, but half of them had abandoned a health app for one reason or another.

Enter Mount Sinai’s RxUniverse. This New York Health System’s new platform does two important things. First it enables physicians to distill the myriad of options in the health app space down to a curated set of apps that have been validated by published scientific literature. Second, it empowers doctors to formally “prescribe” their patients any app(s) they deem relevant. In just the last few months since RxUniverse’s launch, the platform has been embedded into their EHR, and Mount Sinai’s doctors have prescribed thousands of apps to their patients with no signs of slowing down.

If the platform succeeds, companies wanting to create the health apps of the future will need to substantiate an app’s value right out of the gates and ensure that it can easily integrate into these larger systems.

About the Author:

Drew Beck has spent his entire career in healthcare — from direct patient care as an EMT in college to countless roles in pharma sales and global marketing for leading life science companies including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline. He is currently a leader on the Syneos Health Insights & Innovation team, a group charged with leveraging deep expertise in virtual collaboration, behavioral science, trends-based-innovation, custom research and global marketing insights.