Health apps are failing to reach their potential in Europe, finds new Incisive Health report

23 February 2018

The e-revolution in healthcare is yet to reach its potential across Europe because of perceived reliability, data protection concerns, and a lack of health system endorsement, concludes a report published today by Incisive Health International.

Report: Taking the pulse of eHealth in the EU

From the eHealth priority of the outgoing Estonian Presidency of the European Union (EU) to the forthcoming communications on eHealth expected from the European Commission and Council of the EU, digital innovation in healthcare is one of the ‘hot’ topics in EU health policy. Frequently portrayed as the key to revamp European healthcare systems, the momentum behind eHealth is expected to be maintained into 2018 as the EU plans to take further steps to trigger more research and investment in eHealth.

Despite this high-level activity, Incisive Health International’s report on eHealth, featured in POLITICO’s Morning Healthcare Newsletter, finds that 73% of people across seven major EU countries have never used a health app – and that three quarters of the people that have are 34 years old and younger. However, there is a great deal of appetite across Europe to participate in the healthcare e-revolution. Key findings from the report include that:

Two-thirds of people who are not currently using a health app would consider doing so in the future

71% of people would be happy to share health data – including data collected through apps – for research purposes, provided that it reduces the costs of treating ill-health

A third of people would be encouraged to use health apps if they understood more about what is being done with their personal medical data

In order to unleash the potential of eHealth, the report identifies the barriers that must now be overcome. More than half of people cite data reliability concerns, data protection concerns and a lack of health system endorsement as the reasons why they would not use health apps.

These insights lay down challenges to European policymakers. If the potential of health apps is to be realised, then the barriers we have identified will need to be addressed. The challenges raised are areas over which the European Union has full or partial competence and, as it seeks to carve out a new role for itself in health, they are issues on which action could make a major impact on the lives of European citizens.

It is also clear that no single actor will be able to unlock the potential of health apps. Success will require action from the EU, members states, app developers, researchers and consumers.

We hope that the report will play a part in informing the debate on the next steps on eHealth. We look forward to playing our part in bringing together stakeholders and informing better policy to unleash the potential of health apps across Europe.

For further information on the report or to discuss its implications for your work, please contact: Francesca Scassellati Sforzolini, Managing Director: +32 (2) 499 585912 or [email protected].  

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