8 drivers and barriers that will shape the mHealth app market in the next 5 years

Berlin August 14, 2014 – The main drivers of the mHealth app market are smartphone penetration and user demand. On the other side lack of data security and standards are causing the greatest uncertainties among market players.  FDA and EU regulation are neither a driver nor a barrier.

The omnipresence of devices capable of running mHealth apps (58%) is the biggest driver for the growth of the mHealth market by the mHealth app publisher community. User and patient demand (43%) come in second.


The rise of mHealth apps goes hand in hand with the upcoming of patient-centered care models (39%). Apps are supposed to empower patients to take a more active role in their treatment process.


On the other hand, the mHealth app market faces many obstacles. Lack of data security (34%) and standards (30%) are the major barriers for most market players.  There are two other barriers which will have an impact on the development speed of the mHealth app market. With more than 100,000 mHealth apps listed in the Apple App Store and Google Play market, discoverability today already is a major concern for mHealth app publishers. And it will become even more relevant in the future with new apps pouring into those stores.


Secondly the resistance from traditional healthcare providers is seen as yet another barrier. A lot of mHealth app publishers that rely on the support of e.g. doctors, health insurances or medical authorities have had frustrating experiences with those groups. Out of various reasons (e.g. lack of time, missing incentives, unknown evidence) traditional healthcare providers tend to slow down the proliferation of mHealth apps.


Interestingly other factors, which are often cited in the media as fundamental for the slow development of the mHealth app market are only seen as hygiene factors. Lack of quality clinical studies or a clear regulatory framework, specific clinical requirements (e.g. sterilization of devices) and app development costs are perceived as some.


The fact that clinical studies are rated relatively low in relevance is surprising as traditional payers in the healthcare system constantly emphasize that they need better clinical studies. They stress that they need studies run with more participants, conducted over longer time periods and including cost-saving parameters. This would allow them to e.g. reimburse the costs of mHealth apps or to include apps into the treatment plans. This does not prevent the majority of today’s mHealth app publishers to believe in the success of the mHealth market.


mHealth app publishers are also indifferent regarding the existence of a regulatory framework. This is in contrast to the ongoing public discussion especially in the USA about the question if and how to lower the burdens of FDA regulations.


The majority of the market players see app development costs as neither a barrier nor a driver of the market. Apps for simple use cases, which would not to be classified as “medical devices”, can be developed in just a few hours/days with the help of app factories’ templates nowadays. In general, mHealth app publishers report budgets for a single mHealth app project starting from USD 20,000 to USD 50,000 on average. There are apps out there which cost much more and the total app budget also increases with the number of platforms an app will be published on. Nevertheless, app development costs appear not to be a relevant factor of the market development for the next five years.


These insights are based on the 4th mHealth App Developer Economics 2014 report. You can download a free copy of the 50 pages report here:http://mhealtheconomics.com/mhealth-developer-economics-report/


Also, this autumn research2guidance is launching a series of thought leadership webinars that cover the most current topics of the mHealth app market. Find out more details: http://mhealtheconomics.com/webinars/