Prescribing preventative app-based care

February 2, 2023

What is preventative app-based care?

Prescriptions aren’t just for medication. As healthcare becomes more digitised, doctors are prescribing smartphone-enabled and web apps to help with the adoption of healthier lifestyles and to reduce health risks.

The pandemic noticeably shifted healthcare toward proactive interventions, before disease onset. The NHS's long-term plan now strongly emphasises prevention, encouraging healthy behaviours to help address a growing disease burden.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Nearly 70% of all hospital inpatient stays are people with long-term conditions, and it is estimated that over 80% of adults aged 65+ have a chronic health condition that could be managed or prevented by behaviour change.

Chronic diseases also account for an estimated £7 in every £10 of health and social care expenditure, and that figure is set to rise without a big shift towards a proactive approach to health.

Preventative app-based care does have significant potential, especially for those with chronic conditions, to improve the nation's physical and mental health by promoting sustained health-promoting behaviours.

With numerous studies showing 15-30 minutes of daily exercise can reduce the risk of chronic conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and dementia, it is clear that these types of apps can play a role in promoting behaviour change and therefore also improve quality of life.

The likelihood of being affected by a long-term condition increases exponentially with age. Therefore, for older adults requiring more support at home or in the community, easy-to-use and accessible digital health coaches have a crucial role to play. By supporting the adoption and maintenance of everyday actions, there is the potential to significantly improve overall health and ultimately reduce the need for repeated hospital admissions.

Improving access to care

When it comes to app-based care, information is vital. People who can visualise their health data and track health-related goals are more likely to make small, sustainable lifestyle changes. In a recent study, those who used an app were twice as likely to take medication as prescribed. Similarly, automated text reminders for smoking cessation increased quit rates by 50-60%.

Without the need to book GP appointments, app-based care offers immediate daily reminders and support, helping people stay on track with their health-related goals and increasing a sense of ownership and autonomy over their own health.

But, physical health isn’t the only issue - due to the pandemic, an estimated 8.5 million adults in the UK will require mental health support. As demand for mental health services has increased, waiting lists have surged, and a report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists has found that 2/5 of patients waiting for treatment are forced to resort to emergency or crisis services.

App-based care also has a role to play here. Used as an adjunct to treatment or as interim for those waiting for NHS services, app-based care can help to reduce mental health symptoms and prevent people from requiring emergency care. Digital coaching and prevention apps provide flexible, 24/7 access and increased convenience for people needing help or awaiting therapy.

An app-a-day keeps the doctor away

In the next five years, preventative app-based care is set to transform the way we look at health and behaviour change. By promoting healthy behaviours and offering immediate daily support, digital health apps have the power to help to prevent chronic diseases, give individuals the tools they need to take ownership of their health and provide support for those on long waiting lists.

At Holly Health, we are equipped to support people wherever they are on their health journey. From taking small everyday actions to improve their overall health to providing tools and information to manage specific physical and mental health conditions.