Three new trends for consumer health apps

By Brian Dolan
03:43 am

Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsOf the more than 13,600 consumer heath apps we analyzed in April, the vast majority fit snugly into one of our 12 main subcategories, which include cardio fitness, dieting, stress relief, chronic condition management, and medication adherence. Since we began tracking consumer health apps in early 2010 we have noticed a handful of emerging categories of apps that are only now becoming large enough that one might consider them a trend.

Here’s a list of three mini-trends that didn’t make it into our consumer health apps report this year:

The first emerging group of consumer health apps focuses on seasonal allergy management. Many allergy-related app launched during the past 10 months, and in our most recent report we grouped them with the chronic condition management category. At least two allergy apps are rated among the most successful apps in that category, based on our analysis and categorization of Apple’s list of Top 1000 apps for its medical category and health & fitness category of app in its AppStore. The top ranked allergy app, according to Apple, is pharmaceutical company Meda Pharmaceuticals’ app Allergy Advisor. The free app launched in late January 2012 and ranked as the 95th top app in Apple’s Medical category when we completed our analysis of the AppStore’s health offerings. The other allergy-focused app to make an appearance on the list was STARx Technical’s iPollenCount, a $1.99 app that launched in March.

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Another new and emerging group of apps are those branded by individual care providers – the doctor’s office app. While this group has had a few members since the very beginning, we noticed a huge uptick in apps that were branded for particular medical and dentist practices. These app had a variety of features and services, but all of them included contact information and general reference about services provided by the practice. Many also included appointment booking through the app. Even fewer included a messaging component that enabled users to exchange messages with the practice that the app represented. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of these apps had nearly identical descriptions save for the name of the practice. These “custom” apps represent a small but growing threat to appointment booking apps like iTriage and ZocDoc. However, as those companies are likely offering, why shouldn’t practices do both?

A third and final mini-trend that we noticed during our apps analysis was a rise in the number of physical therapy apps. We counted almost three dozen PT app launches over the past year, which made for a noticeable new contingent. The PT apps often focused on one specific issue, like how to help your shoulder rebuild and heal after surgery. PT apps could be a very effective way to help patients remember to practice their PT exercises at home. These will likely be among the first crop of apps that are “prescribed” by healthcare practitioners.

Given the rise of these new categories of apps, our next consumer report will include additional and new categories to capture the changing dynamics of the AppStore.


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