New research by research2guidance concludes that mobile applications and the new smartphone market model will help the mHealth market to reach a new level.
The mHealth market will develop from a trial market to a global market, which is about to realize its full potential.mHealth solutions have been discussed since the end of the 90s.
There were very positive market projections indicating that the mHealth market would soon become a billion Dollar market at that time. But the market never really took off. What stopped the early mHealth market from being successful.
In the last years a new market model has been created by Apple: The mobile applications eco-system. Can this new system ignite the market development that everybody has been expecting for the last years.Will smartphone apps become the killer application of the mHealth market.
The following table shows the main barriers which prevented the mHealth market from growing in the past and the changes the new model will bring:
1. Devices: Early solution providers had to live with limited device capabilities and in order to achieve successful market entry and profitability had to find hardware partners to develop the mobile device. Furthermore, reach was very limited for any kind of smarter phone. Many of the features that early solutions providers had to find special solutions for are now included as standard on smartphones (e.g. GPS or sensors). Reach of smartphones, although limited today, won’t be in 2 years time with the number of smartphone users projected to be 1 bn in 2013.
2. Distribution: In the “early days” mHealth solutions providers had to seek partnerships with MNOs in order to gain some support with the distribution of the service or had to do it on their own. The new market model offers global reach without having to deal with an MNO. Still, traditional distribution channels like doctors, hospitals and health insurance providers are not being affected by the new model.
3. Patients and doctors: The awareness of mHealth solutions was very limited. The new market model offers a better user experience along the entire value chain: discovery and access, billing and usage. The hype for smartphone apps also brings mHealth apps into the spotlight of its potential users. Still, one of the biggest target groups for mHealth solutions, the elderly, will have the biggest issues with technology adoption, although they would benefit most from mHealth application usage. This mismatch will not be changed by the new market model in the near future.
4. Regulations: The new market model has only limited impact on one of the key barriers – regulation. As long as mHealth solutions and services don’t get clearance from national regulators and are thus not reimbursable by health insurance providers, patients must pay expenses themselves. Doctors won’t prescribe e.g. a pill reminder application and will have no financial incentive to propose such solutions to the majority of their patients. The market will remain a consumer driven market, which means that the full potential will remain untapped. Another barrier remains the discussion around security and confidentiality of data. Major projects like electronic health records have been mandated a decade ago in some countries but implementation has been delayed until now mainly because of security and confidentiality reasons.
The findings are a part of a new report by market research institute research2guidance about the global mHealth market. The report analyzes in detail the impact of the new market model, the business opportunities for mHealth app publishers, and how the market will look like in 2015 and will be published at the end of October 2010.