Digital-health companies in Europe need better proof that their products work

European public payers want to see solid proof of efficacy before they’ll agree to reimburse for digital health solutions (such as apps that help patients manage chronic conditions through remote counseling). But less than 2 percent of the papers on digital therapeutics that we reviewed appeared in journals that conduct peer reviews.

Out of 21,725 total articles on digital therapeutics, only 153 are peer-reviewed and provide data

While plenty of research is published, little is peer-reviewed.

Articles published on digital therapeutics, 2015–181, in four categories. Each category is a subset of the previous one.

  • 21,725 Total articles published2
  • 5,332 Scientific publications3
  • 384 Peer-reviewed scientific publications
  • 153 Peer-reviewed scientific publications, with data


1Results from medical-focused search engines.

2Includes product descriptions, recommendations, and reviews; press releases and announcements; magazine articles; articles on WebMD.

3Includes study protocols and proposals; conference proceedings; opinion articles.

Source: Embase; Medline; PubMed; company websites and press releases

McKinsey & Company

To read the article, see “The European path to reimbursement for digital health solutions,” September 17, 2020.