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Mobile health app revenue to grow tenfold by 2017, study predicts

The worldwide market for mobile health applications, and the services that go with them, reached $2.4 billion in revenue in 2013 and will grow to $26 billion by the end of 2017, according to a recently released report from research2guidance, a German market research firm.

Apps related to fitness monitoring show the greatest business potential for app developers today, according to the report, mHealth App Developer Economics 2014. But by 2017, apps involving remote monitoring and consultations will have the highest business potential, with fitness apps falling to fifth, survey responders predicted.


The findings are based on responses to an online survey of 2,000 mobile health app publishers and experts in the field.

The number of mobile health apps published for the iOS (iPhone) and Android mobile operating systems more than doubled in the past 2 years to reach 100,000 in the first quarter of this year, the report notes. Nearly 70% of the app developers made less that $10,000 in revenue (and many of them made nothing). Just 5% made more than $1 million.

When it comes to publishing new apps, traditional healthcare players such as hospitals, insurers and pharmaceutical and medical technology companies, “have the longest way ahead of themselves to find their role in the mHealth app ecosystem,” the report states.

Those players, representing about 3.4% of the total number of app publishers, are prolific app publishers but don't seem to be getting consumers to notice. Their reach, measured by downloads, is “far below the average,” the report states. “It seems that traditional healthcare players put much effort into the mHealth app business, but have not found the right strategy yet. If they did, it would accelerate the market's development.”

But the future looks bright for those companies, survey responders predicted.

“Traditional healthcare players like physicians and hospitals are the top ranked distribution channel for mHealth apps in the next five years,” the report noted. “The underlying assumption is again that within this timeframe mHealth apps will have become well integrated into the healthcare processes.”

Mobile apps will help healthcare systems improve patient compliance and reduce readmission costs, survey responders predicted.

Follow John N. Frank on Twitter: @MHJFrank






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