Digital technology offers tremendous potential for improving the prevention, diagnosis and management of disease. The proliferation of health apps in particular—there are now more than 300,000 which have been developed is changing how patients interact with the healthcare system. Through apps, patients can have immediate access to their health data, schedule virtual visits with their providers, integrate with devices like blood pressure cuffs, manage medication dosing, improve wellness, and many other health-related activities.

Apps are also increasingly accessible especially via smartphones—more people now have a smartphone than a desktop or laptop computer @


What are Digital Health Apps?

Digital Apps are innovative and appealing ways to engage people in learning to manage their health.

Health apps exist on a spectrum: from consumer facing, non-regulated, non-interventional apps like fitness trackers, to regulated, prescription-only apps like a digital therapeutic to manage substance use disorder. Some are standalone apps, while others require connection to an external device, like an inhaler.

Do mental health mobile apps work?

Do mental health mobile apps work: evidence and recommendations for designing high-efficacy mental health mobile apps @
Mobile apps have significant potential to deliver high-efficacy mental health interventions. Given the global shortage of psychiatrists and the lack of mental health care access in rural regions, apps have emerged as a viable tool to bridge the mental health treatment gap

How useful are Mental Health Apps?

Smartphone-based mental health apps represent a unique opportunity to expand the availability and quality of mental health treatment.

Apps related to mental health are one of the fastest growing categories of apps.

Research also suggests that young people prefer to access anonymous Web-based programs rather than get face-to-face help, which has led to the development of numerous smartphone apps.

The number of mobile health (mHealth) apps focused on mental health has rapidly increased; a 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) survey of 15,000 mHealth apps revealed that 29% focus on mental health diagnosis, treatment, or support.

Additionally, public health organizations like the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have pointed to mental health apps as cost-effective and scalable solutions to addressing the mental health treatment gap.

How are mental health apps categorized?

Mental health apps target a broad range of psychological disorders and vary in design and functionality. NIMH classifies mental health apps into six categories based on functionality: self-management, cognition improvement, skills-training, social support, symptom tracking, and passive data collection.

Mental health apps span all stages of clinical care provision, including immediate crisis intervention, prevention, diagnosis, primary treatment, supplement to in-person therapy, and post-treatment condition management.

Mobile apps are a good choice for psychological treatment delivery compared to other platforms due to ease of habit, low effort expectancy, and high hedonic motivation.

What are the possible disadvantages of using untested and potentially ill-informed apps?

The possible disadvantages and dangers in using untested and potentially ill-informed apps may risk doing harm to an individual by suggesting an individual undertake an activity that is not evidence-based that may have adverse consequences such as drinking alcohol to relax, or taking long-term higher doses of addictive medication to improve sleep. So, one has to be careful while selected an app.

How to find a reliable app based on scientific evidence?

Presently, there is no reliable approximation of the proportion of apps for depression or anxiety that are available in the app stores which have scientific evidence of efficacy, or that have been developed with input from mental health professionals or in collaboration with a government body, academic institution, or medical facility. Further, given that individuals rate free apps more highly than those that incur a cost, and that one of the potential benefits of mental health apps is that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may have access to mental health treatment they might not otherwise be able to afford, it is important to know what proportion of mental health apps are available free of charge to the consumer.

How are individuals choosing mental health apps before downloading?

The main ways individuals choose mental health apps are via ratings and reviews in the app stores, or through comments made through social media or word of mouth.

However, price is also important, showing a negative correlation with downloads, and that lower priced mental health apps have consistently higher ratings than higher priced apps. Over half of those who have downloaded a health app value ease of use over trustworthiness of the app, suggesting that demonstrated effectiveness is not an important consideration for many consumers.