Mobile app self-care versus in-office care for stress reduction: a cost minimization analysis

J Telemed Telecare. 2014 Dec;20(8):431-5. doi: 10.1177/1357633X14555616. Epub 2014 Oct 14.


We calculated the cost of providing stress reduction care with a mobile phone app (Breathe2Relax) in comparison with normal in-person care, the standard method for managing stress in military and civilian populations. We conducted a cost-minimization analysis. The total cost to the military healthcare system of treating 1000 patients with the app was $106,397. Treating 1000 patients with in-office care cost $68,820. Treatment using the app became less expensive than in-office treatment at approximately 1600 users. From the perspective of the civilian healthcare system, treatment using the app became less expensive than in-office treatment at approximately 1500 users. An online tool was used to obtain data about the number of app downloads and usage sessions. A total of 47,000 users had accessed the app for 10-30 min sessions in the 2.5 years since the release of the app. Assuming that all 47,000 users were military beneficiaries, the savings to the military healthcare system would be $2.7 million; if the 47,000 users were civilian, the savings to the civilian healthcare system would be $2.9 million. Because of the large number of potential users, the total societal savings resulting from self-care using the app may be considerable.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis*
  • Humans
  • Military Medicine / economics
  • Military Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Mobile Applications / economics*
  • Mobile Applications / statistics & numerical data
  • Preventive Health Services / economics
  • Preventive Health Services / methods
  • Self Care / economics*
  • Self Care / methods
  • State Medicine / economics
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*