Consumer Mobile Health Apps: Current State, Barriers, and Future Directions

PM R. 2017 May;9(5S):S106-S115. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2017.02.018.


This paper discusses the current state, barriers, and future directions of consumer-facing applications (apps). There are currently more than 165,000 mobile health apps publicly available in major app stores, the vast majority of which are designed for patients. The top 2 categories are wellness management and disease management apps, whereas other categories include self-diagnosis, medication reminder, and electronic patient portal apps. Apps specific to physical medicine and rehabilitation also are reviewed. These apps have the potential to provide low-cost, around-the-clock access to high-quality, evidence-based health information to end users on a global scale. However, they have not yet lived up to their potential due to multiple barriers, including lack of regulatory oversight, limited evidence-based literature, and concerns of privacy and security. The future directions may consist of improving data integration into the health care system, an interoperable app platform allowing access to electronic health record data, cloud-based personal health record across health care networks, and increasing app prescription by health care providers. For consumer mobile health apps to fully contribute value to health care delivery and chronic disease management, all stakeholders within the ecosystem must collaborate to overcome the significant barriers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Mobile Applications* / statistics & numerical data
  • Mobile Applications* / trends
  • Telemedicine / organization & administration*