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There's an app for that, but nobody's using it: Insights on improving patient access and adherence

Background Mobile health applications and their subset digital therapeutics—defined as evidence-based software interventions to prevent, manage, or treat a medical condition—offer great potential to improve patient care. However, such solutions often struggle to reach widespread adoption.

Objective This study seeks to explore healthcare stakeholders’ roles and potential for fostering patient access and adherence to evidence-based digital therapeutics and thereby improve health outcomes from the perspective of digital therapeutics developers and distributors.

Methods Semi-structured qualitative and semiquantitative interviews were conducted with 19 experts from developers and distributors of digital therapeutics in Germany to discuss their perceived relevance of different healthcare stakeholders and strategies in promoting patient access and adherence to digital therapeutics.

Results Healthcare professionals were found to have the greatest potential to promote both access and patient adherence to digital therapeutics, followed by health insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and patients themselves. In terms of patient access, healthcare professionals have potential due to their ability to prescribe digital therapeutics. Other stakeholders’ potential stems from their capacity to influence healthcare professionals prescription decision. In terms of patient adherence, only healthcare professionals are of high relevance by onboarding patients and monitoring digital therapeutics use. Most healthcare stakeholders currently do not fully leverage their potential. Further educating healthcare professionals and simplifying processes for them, empowering patients to seek treatment with digital therapeutics, and designing digital therapeutics’ product features for better adherence can help improve patient access and adherence.

There's an app for that, but nobody's using it: Insights on improving patient access and adherence to digital therapeutics in Germany - Florian Dahlhausen, Maximillian Zinner, Linn Bieske, Jan P Ehlers, Philip Boehme, Leonard Fehring, 2022 (

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