KEY TAKEAWAY: The number of mHealth apps available to consumers now exceeds 165,000. Just 36 apps account for nearly half of all downloads, while 40% of apps have fewer than 5,000 downloads. The typical 30-day retention rates for mHealth apps prescribed by a provider are 10% higher than average and 30% higher for fitness apps. However, barriers continue to exist, impeding full adoption of mHealth apps in a prescriptive and integrated manner.
The majority of available health apps continues to be concentrated in the areas of wellness, diet and exercise. Nearly a quarter of mHealth apps focus on disease and treatment management reflecting the growing interest in the use of mHealth apps for chronic disease management. When looking at overall functionality and scope of the features, over 50% of mHealth apps continue to have limited functionality, most simply providing information. One in ten mHealth apps have the capability to connect to a device or sensor which greatly improves the accuracy and convenience of data collection for mHealth apps. The ability for mHealth apps to connect to social media has increased by 8%. Of the top mHealth apps, 65% connect to social media underscoring the importance of this feature for consumer engagement. Connectivity and communication of consumer mHealth apps with provider healthcare systems continues to be limited with only 2% having this feature.
Further multi-stakeholder effort is required to reach a maturity level where mHealth apps are integrated and systematically prescribed by providers, as opposed to self-determined by consumers or informally recommended by providers. More studies substantiating improved health outcomes and cost-savings through the proliferation of mHealth apps are needed to encourage institutional stakeholders and payers to hasten efforts for reimbursement and full healthcare system enterprise-wide integration, two central barriers to comprehensive mHealth adoption.
There are opportunities for pharma within health, but it’s going to require an investment of resources at a time when the current pharma model is under attack. Development of health by pharma is going to have to be clinically tested and the results, as it applies to patient outcomes, effectively communicated to HCP’s. In addition, efforts have to be made to ensure that mHealth initiatives actually are used by target patients.