Demand for mental health apps increases five-fold

New research reveals demand for mental health apps is up by 566% while demand for GP and online prescriptions has doubled in past four years

The research shows healthcare apps have become increasingly popular in recent years

There has been a dramatic increase in demand for healthcare apps since 2014, according to new research by GK Strategy and onefourzero.

Demand for psychiatric support technology has increased by 566%; while that for online GP and prescription services has doubled since 2014.

New health apps are unlocking the power of smartphone technology to deliver services directly to people and patients, reducing the need for expensive equipment or time spent in hospitals

To understand the changing demand, the research analysed Google search data and over 34,000 social media posts over a four-year period.

Desire for convenience is the single-biggest factor driving demand for online GP services, and is mentioned in nearly a quarter (24%) of online conversations on the topic.

Wider recognition of mental health, alongside advances in technology, has driven demand for apps in this field.

The findings indicate that people are increasingly looking to technology to deliver their care.

“This rise in demand has led to increased scrutiny of health-tech providers from regulators, NHS trusts and GPs on grounds of patient safety.

Commenting Robin Grainger, group chief executive at GK Strategy, said: “New health apps are unlocking the power of smartphone technology to deliver services directly to people and patients, reducing the need for expensive equipment or time spent in hospitals.

“We have seen regulators and the wider medical community respond cautiously, and often negatively, to this innovation.

“As these products mature and become a mainstay in people’s lives, the major brands will increasingly need to tackle the arguments posed against them.

“Regulators also need to think carefully about whose side they are on – are they defending the status quo or are they supporting innovation that makes access to healthcare easier for people.”

In a sector as sensitive as health, building and sustaining this trust among users is vital. For companies that successfully do so, the market evidently exists

Fleur Hicks, chief executive at onefourzero, added: “We live in a digital world, and health is now no exception.

“Our analysis highlights that patients have so far bought into technology as a method for delivering healthcare.

“In a sector as sensitive as health, building and sustaining this trust among users is vital. For companies that successfully do so, the market evidently exists.”

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