There are a ton of smoking cessation apps out but, like many areas of digital health, quantity does not mean quality. A survey of smoking cessation apps a few years ago found very poor adherence to clinical practice guidelines. That quality gap is something we’ve also seen in other chronic conditions like high blood pressure.
SmartQuit is a great example of how a health app can be done right and (hopefully) have large scale, meaningful impacts. SmartQuit was developed by Dr. Jonathan Bricker, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington. Dr. Bricker and colleagues have developed an app called SmartQuit that applies acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) in addition to usual strategies to smoking cessation.
In 2014, they published a small randomized study comparing SmartQuit to another great smoking cessation app, QuitGuide. They found SmartQuit to be more effective at getting people to quit, at least in the short term. They then got follow up funding in the amount of $3 million from the National Cancer Institute for a larger study that will enroll 2,000 people.
The SmartQuit app has been free in the state of Washington for some time, where the team behind the app is based. Now it’s being adopted in Louisana but initially offered to pregnant women and the people around them.
It’s a really interesting path for a health app to take, but potentially a lucrative one given the potential reach and scale a partnership like this offers. And it’s something we may see a lot more of if the planned larger study delivers meaningful benefits. The SmartQuit app is certainly a lot cheaper than a few months of patches or Chantix.