Digital innovation in healthcare is one of the ‘hot’ topics in European Union (EU) health policy. The current drive for digital innovation in healthcare is also reflected in consumers’ growing appetite for eHealth services. However, barriers to digital healthcare solutions remain high. Understanding these barriers and the mechanisms through which they can be addressed is essential in order to make an incisive impact. In a noisy policy environment, simply calling for more investment and more digital innovation will not be enough.
Report by Incisive Health showcases the findings from exclusive polling undertaken in seven EU countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, and the UK.
Usage of health apps in Europe
Despite the growing number of health apps available and the widespread public perception that apps are becoming more popular, the polling shows that the use of health apps remains limited. Approximately 73% of respondents have not previously used a health app, with a negligible difference in usage between men and women (73% versus 72% respectively). Amongst those respondents who have used a health app, usage is infrequent. 53% of women and 48% of men use a health app less than once a week, with only 14% of people reporting using a health app every day. Men are slightly more likely than women to report using a health app every week. of the 46% of respondents that had not used a health app before, nearly two thirds (63%) said they would consider using one in the future. This suggests that there is significant eHealth market to be tapped into.
What do people use health apps for?
The most commonly cited uses of health apps are to maintain a healthy lifestyle (42%), to take greater control over health (38%) and to find out more information on one’s own health (34%). A quarter (25%) of respondents used apps to monitor or manage a health condition. Fewer than 8% of respondents indicated that they use health apps to contact a medical professional.
What concerns are preventing people from using health apps?
Reliability, cost and data concerns are the main factors cited as preventing people across all seven countries from using a health app or doing so more frequently. Reliability comes out on top, with 27% of people saying that concerns over the integrity of findings (whether founded or unfounded) currently stop them from using health apps.
There are variations in national concerns on health apps. Concerns about the reliability of health apps are most pronounced in Austria (38%) and Germany (36%), followed by Italy (32%) and Bulgaria (30%). Estonian respondents (15%), on the other hand, emerge as the least concerned about the reliability of health apps. This amounts to a 23% gap between Austria (most concerned) and Estonia (least concerned).
Although there is a good deal of excitement about health apps, the survey shows that use remains fairly limited, with nearly three quarters (73%) of respondents stating they have never used a health app. Yet our study also reveals the potential for health apps to improve the quality and efficiency of health services across Europe. Many people (63%) are open to the idea of using a health app and – importantly – although older age groups are less likely to use an app at present, there is an interest and willingness to do so in the future.
Download the full report here.