Report: Health app market has a few big winners

By Jonah Comstock
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R2G chartThere are now more than 100,000 apps on the iOS and Android app stores, according to a new report by research firm Research2Guidance, double the market size of two and a half years ago. They project the mobile health app market will have produced $26 billion in revenue by the end of 2017, up from $2.4 billion so far.

Research2Guidance also found that the average app publisher has seven apps and between three and 100 employees. Thirty-six percent of publishers entered the market in the last two years.

The market has just a few winners at the top and a vast number of companies struggling on the bottom. For instance, 82 percent of publishers generated less than 50,000 downloads across all of their apps last year, but the top 5 percent reached more than 500,000 downloads. Additionally, 68 percent of publishers make less than $10,000 a year, including those that make no revenue. Seventeen percent make between $50,000 and $1 million, but the top 5 percent makes more than $1 million. 

Research2Guidance analyzed the appstores for their report, as well as surveying 2,032 app publishers to make their predictions. They found that 46.2 percent of those surveyed think that mobile health will improve outcomes of treatments in five years, 43.4 percent believe it will improve self-care, 42.8 percent believe it will slow down the increase in healthcare costs, and 42.6 percent believe it will improve interactions between patients and doctors.

For now, however, most mobile apps are still fitness or wellness oriented. In a sample of 808 apps from the Apple, Google, Windows, and BlackBerry app stores, 30.9 percent were fitness apps. The next largest categories were medical reference (16.6 percent) and wellness (15.5 percent). In the survey, however, a plurality of app publishers (31 percent) targeted the chronically ill with their apps, followed by fitness-oriented people (28 percent). Only 14 percent of those surveyed targeted doctors.

Over time, Research2Guidance thinks that fitness apps will become less important. They expect them to go from the most commonly developed health-related app to fifth most commonly developed, surpassed by remote monitoring and consultation apps, among others.

Those surveyed named the main drivers for mobile health adoption as increasing penetration of capable devices (58 percent) and user and patient demand (43 percent). The factors that could hold back growth were lack of data security (34 percent), lack of standards (30 percent),  and poor discoverability (29 percent).

Finally, Research2Guidance found that 71 percent of apps either connect or plan to connect to an API in order to import or export health data. The health apps that connected to the most device APIs were MyFitnessPal, MapMyFitness, and EveryMove, all hovering around 30 integrations. Meanwhile, the devices that connected with the most apps were Withings, which connected to 90 apps, and Wahoo, which connected to 70.

There's much more data in the full report, which is available for free here.