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Supply Of mHealth Apps Far Exceeds Demand

Posted on October 19, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

With demand relatively high and barriers to entry low, the supply of mHealth apps available on the two main marketplaces has exploded in recent years. And according to a new report from analyst firm Research 2 Guidance, the number of apps continues to mushroom despite lagging demand.

The report notes that nearly 100,000 mHealth apps have been added to the Google and Apple app marketplaces since the beginning of last year, bringing the total apps available to about 259,000. Also, 13,000 mHealth publishers entered the market since the start of 2015, bringing the total to 58,000, according to the study, which looked at global health app development.

To get a sense of trends, the group’s mHealth App Developer Economics 2016 report compared the number of available apps and publishers with the number of mHealth downloads.

During the past year, researchers found, the total number of mHealth apps climbed a whopping 57%, boosted by the expanding number of health app publishers, the increased importance of publishing across both key app marketplaces in the increase in app portfolios by publishers, R2G found.

Multi-platform publishing seems to be particularly important. Currently, 75% of mHealth publishers are developing apps on both iOS and Android platforms. (An even higher percentage of HTML 5 and Windows Phone developers publish across each other’s platforms, but their numbers are small so they don’t contribute much to the overall market stats, the firm found.)

Meanwhile, the number of health app publishers on major app stores climbed 28% since the beginning of 2015, a torrent of entries that doesn’t seem to be slowing down, the analyst firm concluded. This includes not only veteran publishers but also ongoing entrances by new mHealth publishers.

The problem is, demand is nowhere near keeping up with supply, at least when measuring by the number of downloads. Statistics by the research firm indicate that while demand continued to grow by a solid 35% in 2015, health app downloads are estimated to be only 7% in 2016.

Though such downloads are expected to reach a total of 3.2 billion in 2016, further massive growth seems unlikely, as the growth in use of capable devices that can use and download apps has slowed down in most Western countries, R2G notes.

Given the amount of noise in the mHealth app market, few publishers are likely to have the resources to stand out and grab significant download market share. As the analyst firm notes, only 14% of mHealth app publishers generated more than 100,000 downloads across their portfolio in one year, a number which is climbed only 3% since 2014.

Biggest Concerns Regarding Mobile Health

Posted on February 4, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This was an interesting survey with some great insights into mhealth adoption. Although, I’m not sure I agree with the tweet describing the results. Privacy is a major factor in mHealth adoption, but I think that fear of people making poor decisions based on misinterpreted or poor information is the biggest barrier for mHealth adoption.

It makes sense. Do we trust our mHealth devices and apps? What will it take for mHealth apps to be trusted with our health?

I saw a tweet today (sorry I can’t find it again) that said something like 40,000 people use a health app every day. Regardless of the specific number, what’s clear is that people are using wellness apps like crazy. It’s not quite as crazy as game apps, but not far behind either.

With all this app usage, what’s been the results? How much do people actually trust the apps? What do they trust the apps to do?

A great example happened this morning for my wife (obviously she’s the one using these apps and not me, but I digress.). She got a new watch to track her runs. However, she was complaining to me this morning about why the watch couldn’t be accurate, because she ran a different route that was farther and the watch said it was the same distance. In that moment, my wife lost some trust in the app. Plus, we’re just talking about trusting a watch to tell you distance. It’s not telling her some health decision that’s much more challenging and with a lot more variables.

I agree that privacy is an important part of every healthcare app, but the bigger key is going to find a way to build your users’ trust in your app. An app that’s able to do that will be golden. I don’t think many mHealth apps have done that yet, despite usage.

Interesting Tweets from #mHealth14

Posted on December 10, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As noted, I didn’t make it to mHealth Summit 2014, but I have been watching on the #mHealth14 Twitter stream. The Twitter stream is not a substitute for in person connections you can make, but it is a substitute for the in person learning.

Here’s a look at a few of the tweets I’ve seen and some personal commentary on each:


The global position of mHealth Summit is worth considering. In some ways that makes the conference less attractive to many US healthcare providers. However, it also could be a wonderful international exchange of ideas.


Major props to the HIMSS social media team. They’ve been killing it with really professionally done vignettes like this one. If Harry means “healthcare system” as an individual healthcare organization, then I agree. If he means the US healthcare system, then I’m not sure I agree. It’s not like we’re going to stop getting healthcare. All of that said, a reminder of the importance of the patient is always good.


This is a common doctor perspective. The responses to the tweet were interesting though. Here’s one that really stood out:


Obviously there is a balance to both things. We haven’t found that balance yet.


This is a common topic at mHealth Summit conferences. I think the answer is yes, but it likely won’t come from the existing healthcare institutions.


Just remember that barriers are a double edged sword. On the one hand they make it hard to implement. On the other hand, it makes it harder for your competitors to copy you once you’ve figured it out. So, take the good with the bad.


Dan’s been talking about this subject for a while. I expect it will be his favorite slide in 2015 too. I’m looking forward to seeing the solutions he puts forward.


Two of my favorite healthcare IT thinkers. These are both extraordinary women. Read their stuff and you’ll see why I like them so much.


Kindness is underestimated because it’s impossible to measure. Starts to make you wonder about what mHealth apps will be most effective.


Barbara totally nailed it. An mHealth app that does this well will be extremely successful.

The mHealth Tipping Point – See Angry Birds?

Posted on November 26, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In a recent #HITsm chat, someone suggested that the mHealth Tipping point would be when mHealth was as addicting as Angry Birds (sorry I can’t find the tweet to give specific credit to the person). I thought about the idea. No doubt, it would be great if mHealth apps were as addicting as Angry Birds or other mobile games like it. However, I don’t think we want mHealth apps to follow a similar adoption curve to Angry Birds. In fact, I think that mHealth apps today are very much like the Angry Birds adoption curve. Here’s my response to the Angry Birds comparison.

The problem with Angry Birds is that someone uses it religiously for a while and then they kind of burn out and stop playing the game. Does that sound like mHealth apps today?

This is why I hope that mHealth apps are more like text messaging app than an Angry Birds app. A text messaging app is something you rely on and use every day. It’s something that provides ongoing value to you and so you never stop using it. It becomes an indispensable part of how you spend your day.

Plus, how many of us think about our text messaging app? You don’t download it. You don’t think, “Oh, I need to use that app.” No, you just use it all the time and other people interact with you through it as well. This is the model that the most successful mHealth apps will have to follow.

The mHealth Move from Direct to Consumer to Employer Health

Posted on May 7, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’m starting to see a trend that’s happening over and over again in the mobile health space. Many mHealth companies focus initially on direct to consumer. They put their app on the app store and wait for the patients to come rolling in. Unfortunately, Field of Dreams was wrong when it said, “If you build it, they will come.” Mobile health companies quickly realize that marketing a mobile health app direct to consumers is a really tough business. Plus, consumers can be really fickle and so it’s hard to make money even if you do get some traction and following.

In the startup world when something like this happens, they do what they call a “pivot.” Essentially they pivot their product from one business model to a new one. Sometimes that means basically scrapping their product and starting a new one. Other times it’s applying their technology to a new space.

The pivot I’ve seen most often with mHealth companies is the pivot away from a consumer health application to an employer health application. Many employers are looking for ways to improve the health of their employees since their healthcare costs are huge and real. So, a mobile health company can make an ROI case for why the employer should buy their product. I won’t dig into the ROI of employer health here, but I should in a future post.

I had one guy I talked to recently basically say that healthcare startups should focus on the employer health space. He saw that as the real opportunity for a healthcare startup to be successful. While I certainly find the employer health space intriguing, I’m not sure it’s the best space for healthcare startup companies. A lot of it depends on the company and the DNA of the people at that company.

What I do see is a trend of mobile health companies interested in employer health. I’ll be interested to see how many of them give it a go and then pivot back to being consumer health focused companies.

So Many mHealth Apps…So Few Users

Posted on January 27, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This tweet really caught my eye today:

While this tweet and blog post reference diabetes apps, the same could be said for any category of mHealth apps. In fact, it might be able to apply to mHealth as a whole. There are so many apps in every category and not enough users. Is this a problem?

The answer is yes, and no. Certainly, it’s a problem for all of these app developers that they don’t have users. You could make the argument that some of them don’t need that many users, but most of them need some sort of scale to really make an impact on the world and a successful business. So, this is a problem. If they don’t get scale, many of them will close up shop and move on to other things.

While this could be a troubling thing, it can also be seen as a very good thing. There is a flood of companies and people working on creating innovative mHealth applications. The more people working on the problem, the more I like our chances of finding something truly incredible. This is a very good thing.

It will be an interesting next few years as we see the wheat separated from the chaff.

Google Gets Into Activity Tracking

Posted on January 18, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Fierce Mobile Healthcare has a great article up talking about Google entering the activity tracking market with an Android app called Google Now. Turns out that Google Now is a lot more than just a fitness activity tracker. I think that Google looks at Google Now as the smart part of your phone that keeps track of what you’re doing and tries to provide real time information based upon all the data about you. It’s the next level Siri if you want to think about it that way. So, it makes sense that Google Now would also try and understand your health in the process.

While it’s interesting to see Google get back into the Health game after the failure of Google Health to get any traction, I think this is a really smart move. Plus, why isn’t the smartphone your activity tracking device? I know very few people who leave their house without their smartphone, but I know very few people who want to wear any other device all day every day.

Sure, your smartphone won’t track your activity level perfectly, but it can get pretty close. The battery won’t last as long as the other activity trackers along with other issues. However, when you look a the core technology in the fitness trackers and your smartphone, they are pretty close. I’ll reach out to some of my mHealth device friends to get their thoughts on the difference. Maybe there are a number of other issues I’m not thinking about.

We’ll see how this evolves, but the more we can make mHealth activity tracking a normal part of people’s routine, the more likely we’ll see results from it.

Wireless Health Data Collection Innovations Getting Hot

Posted on September 25, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

This week, psfk.com and pharma partner Boehringer Mannheim published a list of the week’s top innovations in healthcare. All were interesting, but I was particularly intrigued by a couple which continue to stretch the boundaries of wireless medicine.

One innovation example comes from a German research team, which has developed a tiny chip (a two-millimeter device much shorter than an eyelash) which can sample blood sugar levels by testing tears or sweat. The chip is equipped to transmit the results wirelessly to providers, as well as sending patients alerts to their wireless phone.  Even cooler, the chip can be powered wirelessly through radio frequency, keeping it charged for weeks or even months.

Another entirely cool innovation comes from U.S. high school student Catherine Wong, who has invented an ECG made of off the shelf electronic components which can broadcast results wirelessly.  The device, which could make ECGs available to to the two billion-plus people without access to healthcare, picks up heart signals, then transmits them via cellphone to a healthcare provider.  The cellphone connects to the ECG using Bluetooth, and heart rhythms display on  a smartphone screen thanks to a Java app.

As readers know, the idea of broadcasting test results to remote providers via wireless devices is not a new one. The idea is so hot, in fact, that the FCC is holding a public meeting on September 24 to discuss how to accelerate the adoption of such approaches. (The event will be live streamed at http://www.itif.org/events/recommendations-mhealth-task-force at 2PM Eastern Standard Time.)

After watching projects like these germinate for a number of years, I’m thrilled to see more innovation arising in this sector of the mHealth space. Inventors, keep it coming!

Detecting Parkinson’s with a Phone Call

Posted on August 21, 2012 I Written By

Smartphones can do just about anything these days.  I will not be at all surprised when they develop a smartphone to clean your house, and I will also be the first one in line to buy it.  One of the new amazing technologies that is being developed by Max Little, Ph.D. at MIT.

The Parkinson’s Voice Initiative is developing a voice based diagnostic to aid in the detection of Parkinson’s Disease.  Dr. Little is also a TEDGlobal 2012 fellow and you can find his TED Talk on the subject on this page.

You can also find a great interview with Dr. Little by the people at MedGadget on their website.

According to MedGadget at least 5% of Americans over 80 have Parkinson’s in some form.  Obviously the first step in helping these people is detection.  This new technology has a detection accuracy of 98.6 overall accuracy.  That is pretty incredible when you consider the relatively simple concept.

Like so many of these technologies, the smartphone can bring these benefits to people who never could have used them before.  A patient wouldn’t even have to visit a lab to make the recordings, they could simply call in on their phone.

Technology like this can’t help but make me wonder what other diseases we could be detecting and curing that we haven’t even thought of yet.  What diseases do you think could be aided by smartphones?

5 Must Have Mobile Apps for Runners

Posted on July 30, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

There are a lot of apps out there for runners. The question is, which ones are worth downloading? I’ve gone through quite a few different map trackers and I think I have a pretty good idea of my favorite ones. However, there are also a lot of other great apps that extend beyond map trackers. So here is a round-up of apps every runner should download:

1. Instant Heart Rate: Keeping your heart rate within an appropriate range for your age, height, and weight is essential in obtaining an optimal workout. Heart rate monitors can be pricey, however, so not many people have one. Luckily, there is a heart rate monitor that is available for your phone! Instant Heart Rate, which has an almost 5-star rating from almost 81,000 reviews. The description in the Google Play Store says that its “accuracy is constantly tested by fitness coaches, nurses, doctors, EMTs, and 5 million users.” It’s very simple to use — the user just puts their finger onto their phone’s camera and the heart rate will display in a few seconds. It’s actually a pretty neat app, and I like using this a whole lot more than trying to find my own pulse. If you are looking to optimize your runs (or other workouts!), this is a great app to have on your phone.

Download for Android phones here for free

Download for the iPhone here for .99

2. MapMyRun: This app is one of my favorites, and is part of the MapMyFitness suite. It simply tracks where you run using real-time GPS. I’ve found it to be very accurate, and I love being able to see exactly where I ran and how far I ran for. It can be connected to your MapMyRun.com account, which is an awesome website in itself. I like being able to search other runners routes that are near you, because it helps me find some variety. If you like bragging about your workouts, you can post directly to Facebook how fast and how far you ran. However, if your MPH is rather embarrassing like mine, you can just leave that information out! There are a lot of GPS running trackers out there, but I’ve found this one to be the easiest to use, and the cleanest interface.  It also tracks calories burned, information on nutrition, and more. Another very popular one is RunKeeper, which boasts of having no advertising.

Download for Android phones here

Download for the iPhone here

3. Adidas miCoach: One of the hardest parts of running, at least in my opinion, is getting the motivation to do it. Quite often the thought goes through my head “Go outside in the hot, sweat a ton, and feel sore the rest of the day or stay home in my air conditioned house and catch up on my reality TV shows”, and I want to pick the latter. However, that’s not a good way to stay in shape. So, for anyone out there who needs an extra boost, the Adidas miCoach is a great app. It uses real-time voice coaching to encourage and educate you on parts of your workout, lets you select a workout plan that is ideal for your personal  goals and body type, and many other interesting features. It even has a “shoe usage” feature that sends you alerts on how worn out your shoes are getting. So if you want your own personal trainer talking you through your runs, this is a great app to have.

Download for Android here

Download for iPhone here

4. Daily Ab Workout: A person can’t be in truly great shape just by running. You have to eat right, get enough sleep, and incorporate other workouts as well. Having a strong core is essential for running, so the Daily Ab Workout app is great to use in accordance with any running regimen. It has three ab work outs that last between 5 and 10 minutes each, and the reviews rave about it. Unlike a lot of apps similar to this on smart phones, there are full-length videos included, not just pictures or written instructions. It’s add free and has different workout modes you can select from. I haven’t used this app extensively yet, but I plan to in the future. Either way, I think it’s another app anyone who is committed to getting in better shape and becoming a better runner should have.

Download for Android here for .99

Download for iPhone here for .99

5. Epic Runner: After all the training and hard work that comes with running, it’s nice to see those efforts pay off. What better way than running in a 5K, half-marathon, or even marathon. While finding a race can be done online, this app makes it easy to find races and get a running plan that is customized for that date. It shows you a map of the races you have found in your area, and also has a fitness couch incorporated. One of the neatest features, in my opinion, is Running Calculator. It basically takes your running stats from previous runs and predict race results according to that, even down to racing categories such as age and sex. This app does cost money, but seems pretty handy.

Download for Android here

Run Tracker:

Keep you well-rounded: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tinymission.dailyabworkoutpaid&feature=related_apps#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEwOSwiY29tLnRpbnltaXNzaW9uLmRhaWx5YWJ3b3Jrb3V0cGFpZCJd