According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the goal of insomnia therapy is to improve both the quality and the quantity of sleep. Professor Espie said the app’s goal was to treat broken sleep, saying that “people who get consolidated sleep feel the benefit of that.”

But in one large randomized clinical trial with more than 3,700 participants, only 18 percent of Sleepio users completed the insomnia treatment. In another study, with nearly 1,400 participants, more than half of the Sleepio group did not engage with the app at all — suggesting that app therapy may be off-putting to some people.

Professor Espie said some Sleepio users felt benefits from the app early on and stopped using it.

Christopher L. Drake, section head for sleep research at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and a co-author of the 1,400-person study, said many people simply preferred in-person therapy.

“The future will be combining the efficiency and access of a digital therapeutic with the personalization that you get from one-on-one therapy with a clinician,” Dr. Drake said.

CVS Health’s rollout of Sleepio is part of its larger effort to popularize online health treatments as employee benefits. Dr. Brennan said the company planned to move forward with the apps it deemed to have solid evidence of efficacy.

“We’re doing it because we think patients are going to benefit from it,” Dr. Brennan said. “That’s an important step for physicians. That’s an important step for patients.”

Although Dr. Brennan emphasized in an interview that CVS Health was rigorously evaluating treatment apps for efficacy, a company spokeswoman said in a follow-up email that the pharmacy giant wanted to maximize choices for employers, even if some of the apps were not so evidence-based.

“We will not curate a finite list of available vendors,” Christina Beckerman, the spokeswoman, wrote.

This content was originally published here.

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