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7 Surprising Mobile Health App Statistics

| May 28, 2021

A look into mobile health app statistics, meaning the performance benchmarks for apps of the fitness and medical flavor, provides great insight into the direction of the market. We’re at a point right now where certain technologies have matured enough to become commonplace which we can observe in the integration of modern healthcare features in successful products. And it doesn’t look like it will be slowing down any time soon.

Data is the key to just about everything so we want to take a step back and look at the big picture which helps gives more context from some of the finer details. Our goal here is to paint a picture of the industry that’s both simple but vivid enough to communicate the current state of affairs which we’ll leverage to provide some insights on where it’s heading.

The 7 most important mobile health app statistics currently available

Knowing the current figures for various behavioral trends of the overall market is helpful in tailoring your expectations before you start planning to build a healthcare app, especially if it’s a solution you plan to sell on the market. More importantly, understanding the growth or decay of any given stat (when available) proves useful in identifying the speed at which certain elements will likely change over time. So let’s jump right in.

The vast majority of people own smart devices and also use them for monitoring health metrics. The first part of that shouldn’t come as any surprise. Walk into any Chili’s and there will be at least one table where everyone is looking at their phone.

More specifically, Pew Research reported that in 2015 that 9 of every 10 people surveyed had a smartphone and some 68% of all Americans owned a tablet, which has gone up significantly since then. Further, more than half of each age demographic group owns a smartphone, and half of them use said devices to look up health information for a total of 64% of all adults using health or fitness apps to measure metrics. The most popular kind of app is a symptom checker (as of 2019) but after that, most users appear to prefer apps that continuously monitor things like blood sugar and heart-related information.

You can see there’s definitely a market and it’s been steadily growing. The fact that we’re likely just now breaching the surface of what all we can do with AI and ML means there’s still plenty of room for growth.

Currently valued at just under $40 billion, much more growth is expected in mHealth because patients want it. Adding to the above point – and also drawing from the same source material –the global market for mHealth (an umbrella term for mobile healthcare apps) is valued at a healthy $37 billion. Based on the viewpoints held by some two-thirds of all healthcare technology executives, this flavor of technology will dramatically impact the industry in times to come.

Truly, it’s already happening. And based on the fact that 71% of patients surveyed stated that they would like their physicians to offer a [good] solution in the mobile healthcare app realm, specifically something that could securely capture and transmit healthcare data, means the demand is present under the condition that the app will empower them to take control of their data. But it all starts with secure access.

Investments and funding are rapidly increasing in the US as well as Asian markets. Getting these solutions off the ground is detailed and pricey – it’s important to consider the cost of building an app in the healthcare space which is usually on the higher end of the spectrum with respect to most industries.

Most investors see value in well-designed solutions that are created with the needs of both sides (i.e., patient and provider) in mind. In 2020, the telehealth and mHealth sectors received total funding of $1.78 billion in the US while the Asia-Pacific region was even higher. The top three most funded categories in digital healthcare tech are telemedicine, data analytics, and mHealth which means there is currently opportunity in these categories right now. Too, if you can build for the Asian-Pacific market, your odds of success go up.

Some 90% of hospitals offer an app but what does that mean? By 2017, most US hospitals offered an app. Exactly what all that app could do, however, is arguably more important than simply “having” some ill-defined app. You’ll be hardpressed to find an actual list that’s limited to hospital-owned apps but resources like this illustrate what a good healthcare app looks like which you could – and should! – use to investigate each company a little further. We also just covered some of the most important features for general healthcare apps here which should serve as another useful resource.

The ideal app for a hospital is a secure multi-tenant solution that solves each individual provider or department’s needs. It’s a massive job that’s best served by using an iterative development process, starting with an MVP. Here, you can start by solving one (or small, closely related groups) of problems at a time, and then polish them up before moving forward. One good idea is to start with a central billing system that can connect to as many insurer claim processing systems as possible which will allow providers to streamline the financial end of their practice.

The US spends substantially more money on healthcare than any other country which means opportunities for cost-cutting solutions. The US (also not surprisingly) spends more per capita and overall dollar amount on healthcare than any other nation in the world and by far. Regardless of why that is, which we can probably all agree is an inherent result complexity, this means that many medical providers are incredibly conscious of their spending as not to take on a financial burden that would impact their quality of care.

The idea here is that apps need to adhere to a sustainable design, ideally something that will ultimately cost less in time or even pay for itself. A quick look at the numbers tells us why: as of 2018, the US spends above 4.5 times what the next leading country, China, spends on healthcare, dollar for dollar. If you eliminate all 13 other, high-spending countries from the list, the US spends about twice what the rest of the world does on healthcare. It’s bananas.

The telemedicine market niche alone is slated to be worth $22 billion alone in the US. Interestingly, the impact of AI in healthcare is also shaping up to create a potential $150 billion savings for US healthcare, supposedly concurrently. While this probably won’t lower healthcare costs much (if at all), it creates an opportunity to pass those savings towards more innovation which will almost certainly be used to keep pushing the limits of AI and ML. In time, this could be used as leverage to solve the bigger problems in healthcare but we need to start somewhere first!

Almost 9 of every 10 health insurance companies are in support of mHealth when certain conditions are met. Perhaps you’ve heard of the car insurance company, Root? It’s a newer player in the game that leans heavily on its value proposition in which they claim to offer discounts for quantifiably, safe driving. They can do this because they use GPS sensors and accelerometer data from your phone where the app is installed to calculate your driving skill based on the data it collects.

In the same vein, some 85% of surveyed insurance providers expressed an interest in being able to connect to patient health apps to be able to “offer better rates.” That’s all well and good, but it’s a risky proposition that would probably need to be regulated such that data couldn’t be used to increase rates any higher. It’s important to build with this capability in mind but it might be best to wait until all the details of how this will look on paper.

Take Root for example – I jumped ship from Progressive which I’ve held for about 18 years (minus a short time I was with State Farm) because I found several slightly lower quotes for better coverage. I also liked the idea of going with a startup that’s trying something cool with technology in a highly competitive market. However, I found that the “safe driving” tool has served to increase my rates over time to the point where it’s now higher than what I was paying at Progressive.

The problem isn’t the extra $10 a month, it’s the fact that it’s probably due to technical limitations due to the frequency of which data is collected. Though GPS is fairly reliable, it can be a few feet off for one. Data is analyzed as a composite of the trend meaning there are small gaps in between each point that each capture occurs so anything in between is assumed based on calculation from surrounding figures. When these data gaps are large, which is likely the case because of both data conservation efforts and mobile data network limitations like occasional latency, that “assumed” part of your driving that’s based on averages could show you rapidly accelerating when, in fact, you’ve been traveling at a constant speed.

So the fact I feel like I’m a good driver (as almost everyone will) but see my rates increase makes me want to find someone new. I could be wrong about the app but the fact that Root doesn’t go into much detail about how this portion actually works makes me believe it’s the case. 

Now, imagine if people’s rates start to go up after they begin to share mHealth data with insurance providers. If they’re under the impression that it will help but see the opposite, you have a major problem on your hands.

Blue Label Labs stays current with healthcare trends to deliver a great experience

We are challenge seekers who build evolving products for healthcare, allowing our customers to cultivate and sustain meaningful relationships by adhering to data compliance regulations like HIPAA. Everything in the medical and adjacent industries is constantly evolving so we understand that it’s critical to put some context to the numbers floating around in reports. Our knowledge and intuition can help you create a product that can make a significant impact and be the kind of solution that gets better with age. We can’t help you age fine wine (… or can we?) but we can help you design, build, and support a healthcare app that improves throughout its lifecycle – get in touch to find out how.

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