Introduction: The unparalleled surge in digital health adoption during the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the potential of mHealth apps. However, the quality of available evidence is generally low, and regulatory frameworks have focused on apps with medical purposes only, overlooking apps with significant interactions with patients that may require stronger oversight. 

Areas covered: To support this expanded evidence generation process, we identified the reasons that distinguish mHealth apps compared to medical devices at large and that should differentially feature their assessment. mHealth apps are characterized by the iterative nature of the corresponding interventions, frequent user interactions with a non-linear relationship between technology usage, engagement and outcomes, significant organizational implications, as well as challenges associated with genericization, their broad diagnostic potential, and price setting. 

Expert Opinion: The renewed reliance experienced during the pandemic and the unprecedented injection of resources through recovery instruments can further boost the development of apps. Only robust evidence of the benefits of mHealth apps will persuade health-care professionals and beneficiaries to systematically deploy them. Regulatory bodies will need to question their current approaches by adopting comprehensive evaluation processes that adequately consider the specific features of mHealth apps.


© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

Cite as

Tarricone, R., Petracca, F., Ciani, O. & Cucciniello, M. 2021, 'Distinguishing features in the assessment of mHealth apps', Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, 21(4), pp. 521-526. https://doi.org/10.1080/14737167.2021.1891883

Downloadable citations

Download HTML citationHTML Download BIB citationBIB Download RIS citationRIS
Last updated: 16 June 2022
Was this page helpful?