Health-Apps on prescription? Health insurance providers lack consistent criteria to decide

Health insurance providers lack consistent criteria to decide on the benefits and reimbursement of health apps
By: PR&D
VIENNA - Dec. 2, 2020 - PRLog -- Health insurance funds lack clear, coordinated criteria according to which they can assess the benefits of health apps and thus assume costs. The Austrian Institute for Health Technology Assessment (AIHTA) has therefore published a guidance for orientation based on a critical analysis of six existing concepts and eleven apps. The analysis shows that a proof of effectiveness is demanded differently in different countries. In only a few cases, clear requirements are set for such studies that could prove a health benefit of the apps.

Health apps are on everyone's smartphones: there are already several hundred thousand different ones. The spectrum of services ranges from passive monitoring of bodily functions (e.g. blood sugar, heart rate measurement) to reminder apps for taking medication (e.g. antidepressants) to diagnostic tools for skin changes (e.g. melanoma). Depending on the potential risk associated with the use of the app, clinical studies may (e.g. melanoma diagnostics) or may not be required (e.g. pedometers) for approval. The proof of their benefit for reimbursement decisions by the health insurance funds, on the other hand, is currently regulated inconsistently in the best case or not at all in the worst case. The health insurance funds lack a sound basis on which to decide whether to cover the costs of the utilization of apps. Developers also do not know exactly what requirements their apps are required to fulfil for this purpose. AIHTA has now come up with an initial guidance for orientation to remedy this situation.

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