A few weeks ago, the sixth edition of the largest global study on mHealth app has been published by research2guidance, one of the community partners of FTR4H. Its Managing Director, Ralf-Gordon Jahns, is also member of the jury of #5MAC16. In this years report, more than 2,600 mHealth app developers, healthcare professionals shared their experiences and views on the market. Here their most important findings:
- The mHealth app market is getting crowded: Almost 100,000 mHealth apps have been added since the beginning of last year, amounting to 259,000 mHealth apps currently available on major app stores (including multi-platform apps and smaller platforms). In addition, 13,000 mHealth publishers entered the market since the beginning of 2015, totaling 58,000.
“Growth rates of mHealth app store downloads are estimated to be only +7% in 2016 after +35% from the previous year, reaching a total of 3.2B in 2016.”
- Multi-platform publishing is the norm: Or more precisely, publishing on iOS and Android has become normal. 75% of today’s mHealth publishers develop for both platforms. Other platforms still don’t play a major role.
- mHealth publishers are becoming connected: Unlike the previous years, publishers now use APIs to connect their apps to third party apps, sensors or data aggregators. Apple HealthKit is by far the most commonly used API. 58% of publisher now use APIs, compared to 42% from the previous year.
- mHealth app publishers are becoming more experienced with developing: Developing an app involves using tools to develop, test, market and monitor performance. 72% of mHealth app publishers have used, for example, analytics, testing, storage or cross platform tools.
- mHealth companies are getting smaller again and are losing their altruistic motive: Last year saw a wave of new market players, which are the “Garage” type of start-ups with 1–2 founders. The share of this category increased from 8% to 13% in the last year. Perhaps with this wave of new entrants, the altruistic ambition of “we do this to help others” is still prominent and unique to the mHealth market, but it gave way to “we do this to make money” as number one motivation.
- It is still not a money printing business for all but a few exceptions: 78% of mHealth app publishers report to have made less than US$100,000 from their entire mHealth app portfolio business. 60% make less than US$1,000 per month / US$10,000 per year. Traditional app store revenue sources like IAP1, paid app download or IAA2 are the main income source for only 4- 10% of today’s mHealth app publishers. Rather, they license technology (15%), and even offer third party development services (14%).
“US$10 seems to be the threshold for which a patient is willing to pay out-of-pocket for mHealth app services: There is a strong market belief that patients/app users would spent no more than US$10 (or US$9.90) on, for example, a monthly subscription for a health chat, a one-time download of a diet plan or one-time expert feedback. Thresholds vary between service categories but US$10 is the most common.”
- Health insurance companies (HIC) are expected to become a key player in the market but are currently failing to step into their expected role: The majority (85%) of companies in the market assume that patients would be willing to share their health data with HICs in return for a cheaper plan, health recommendations or research purposes. Only 17% of mHealth practitioners rate the app portfolio of health insurance companies to be above average in quality.
- The mHealth app market is a growth market: The revenues coming from mHealth app related services will grow by 15% (CAGR) to reach US$31B in 2020. 551M users will by then actively (at least once a month) make use of an mHealth app.
- Integration of mHealth apps into the healthcare system will slowly evolve over the next five years: mHealth practioners foresee that app stores will be the main distribution channel for mHealth apps in the next years. The importance of other channels as an indication for the degree to which doctors, hospital and pharmacies are expected to integrate into the system, has declined again since the last study. It will remain a consumer and patient driven market for the foreseeable future. Business potential will continue to grow.
“Within the patient journey, follow-up monitoring will be the most influenced phase by mHealth apps: In general, the impact apps will have on the patient journey from seeking information, receiving diagnosis and treatment as well as prevention is rated high. The highest impact is seen on providing follow-up advice and coaching after the initial doctor’s visit.”
- Reducing hospital readmission rates and non-adherence to treatment costs remained as the most important cost levers for mHealth apps to pull on over the next five years: Similar to last year’s study results, more than 60% of market players believe that the greatest cost saving benefit to come from mHealth apps will be noted in reducing hospital costs. This will be due to decreasing hospital readmission rates and length of stay, as well as assisting with patient compliance to medication plans. The perceived future impact that mHealth apps will have on reducing medical trial costs have dropped by -4pp.
Download the complete report here.