YARMOUTH, Maine – With an abundance of mHealth apps on the market today, users can track their fitness, find a physician, report their vital signs and manage a chronic illness all from a smartphone in the palm of their hand.
But a recent study suggests the mHealth app market is becoming overcrowded and it’s difficult for users to figure out which apps are effective.
“The mHealth app market is getting crowded, but the growth of the demand side has slowed down,” said the authors of research2guidance’s mHealth App Developer Economics report for 2016.
Almost 100,000 mHealth apps have been introduced in the past year, for a total of more than 250,000 mHealth apps available on major app stores, according to the report.
The issue is there are too many low-quality mHealth apps on the market, said Jaquie Finn, head of digital health at Cambridge Consultants, a product development and design firm that specializes in medtech.
“The driving force has been to build the app and get it to market quickly,” she said.
While that might get an app in the app store, it doesn’t guarantee success.
“The drop-off rate is massive,” said Finn, who believes users might try an app, but they are not staying engaged.
Successful apps use application program interfaces (APIs) to connect to third-party apps and data aggregators, said Jeff Dachis, founder and CEO of diabetes management platform and app OneDrop.
“The separation of the wheat and chaff will come down to apps that work with connected devices,” he said. “The app needs to interface with a health system to expand the device or app to a broader ecosystem.”
Finn agreed, saying the future of mHealth apps will move toward becoming portals to accept data from other devices to combine health, wellbeing and symptomatic data in the cloud to produce actionable insights.
“We will start to see the connectivity angle and having APIs built into apps to leverage the Internet of Things, so it’s actually meaningful,” she said.