Docs poised to prescribe mobile health apps

By Bernie Monegain
07:30 AM

Mobile health applications will be distributed predominantly through traditional healthcare channels by 2015 as opposed to app stores, according to a global survey by research2guidance.

Today app stores are still the distribution channels of choice, but in the future it is expected that traditional healthcare distribution channels such as hospitals and specialized healthcare product vendors will become the predominant distribution channels, according to the survey. The smartphone app store model has been the key driver behind the initial success of mHealth applications over the past two years researchers said.
More than half of all respondents (53 percent) believe that currently app stores are the best distribution channels followed only by healthcare websites (49 percent). Traditional health distribution channels such as doctors (34 percent), hospitals (31 percent) and pharmacies (16 percent) are ranked as second- and third-tier distribution channels today.

Despite the fact that mobile operators are regarded as players who will help the mHealth market to grow, they are not seen as appropriate distribution channels either now or in the future.

In five years, survey participants anticipate that the traditional distribution channels such as hospitals (68 percent), doctors (65 percent) and traditional healthcare websites (56 percent) will become the main platforms on which to sell mHealth solutions.

All distribution channels will grow in importance, but developers envision that in five years the major distribution channel will be doctors prescribing or suggesting applications to patients as a component of treatment.

The survey is part of research2guidance's "Mobile Health Market Report 2010-2015."