This morning, data science company IQVIA unveiled a partnership with EMIS Health, a Leeds-based primary care software provider, to enable GPs in England electronically 'prescribe' apps evaluated against NHS standards to patients.
The partnership will see IQVIA help populate the EMIS App Library, bringing together their AppScript digital health prescribing and monitoring platform and the EMIS Web clinical system.
Nine apps are currently available through the library nationally, including Pzizz and ReacT2D, as well as others commissioned regionally.
“It’s important for the digital therapeutics industry to have their products electronically prescribed by clinicians in a similar manner to how drugs are prescribed,” Brian Clancy, co-lead and associate director for AppScript by IQVIA, told MobiHealthNews.
“An increasing number actually require a prescription by a clinician, and even those that don’t require prescription have enormous benefits in being recommended by a clinician, where typically you will get higher engagement or improved outcomes when they’re being recommended by a doctor.”
HOW IT WORKS
When GPs (around 60% in England use EMIS Web) recommend an app, patients instantly receive a link to download it via text or email. “One of the many reasons why it’s important for us to send that precise link is that you know in digital health we don’t name our products very well," Clancy said.
"If you say, I want to recommend you ReacT2D, and the patient types into the app store Type 2 diabetes, for example, a million different things will pop up, and the likelihood that the patient downloads the right app is very low. There’s also a number of other opportunities that are really provided by this electronic means of sending that patient that prescribed app."
WHY IT MATTERS
A number of metrics are reportedly being collected to track patients' levels of engagement with the apps prescribed, including whether they click on the link sent to them and a survey asking whether they are still using these tools after 30 days.
However, this varies from product to product, and not so much by category, Clancy explained. “The one thing that’s consistent that we see is that all signs point to patients being much more engaged when they’re recommended that particular app by their clinician,” he added.
According to the AppScript lead, recent research carried out by IQVIA in the US indicated that only 4% of clinicians had the ability to electronically prescribe apps to patients. "When you contrast that to what this deal provides (...), you can see how an enormous barrier has really been lifted in this particular market, namely the UK, compared to other markets, such as the US," Clancy said.
But he agreed that barriers to digital inclusion and varying levels of digital skills among different population groups remain. "We can’t solve all the problems with our AppScript tool, and unfortunately that’s one of them," he added.
ON THE RECORD
IQVIA and EMIS' new partnership follows the launch in 2018 of AppScript One Click Studies on EMIS Web aiming to support GPs recruit patients in clinical research. Tim Sheppard, senior vice president and general manager for IQVIA, Northern Europe, said in a statement:
"We believe that this collaboration between IQVIA and EMIS Health represents not only a critical inflection point in the maturation of digital health, but also a signal of how traditional silos between routine care and research are being broken down by embracing integrated health software platforms and associated workflows."