Kalorama: Medical mobile app market worth $84.1M

By Molly Merrill
09:10 AM

Mobile medical apps are slowly gaining market share as 2010 revenues are expected to more than double compared to 2009, according to a new report by healthcare market research publisher Kalorama Information.

Kalorama's report, the "Worldwide Market for Mobile Medical Apps," finds that in 2009 the market was worth about $41 million, which translates to about 1.5 percent of the total mobile app market. Kalorama estimates sales for 2010 to come in at $84.1 million.

Medical apps compete for market share with other very large and popular app categories such as gaming, entertainment, social networking and navigation, but despite the higher price tag for most medical apps (averaging $15 per app), the number of downloads fall short. This keeps medical apps on the lower end of revenues in comparison to other categories, the report finds.

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The use of smartphones has also been rapidly expanding in the healthcare industry, since they provide a range of programs, convenience and efficiency that can't be achieved with traditional computers and pocket drug references. It was estimated that in 2004, around 25 percent of practicing physicians in the U.S. used a PDA or smartphone. This increased to approximately 35-40 percent in 2008. By 2010, more than 50 percent of physicians are using smartphones or PDAs on a regular basis for everyday treatment activity.

"Not only is the medical community using smartphones and their applications for basic tasks, but they report using them to complete some of the work that would have previously been done on a desktop or laptop computer," says Melissa Elder, an analyst with Kalorama Information and author of the report. "With one of the main focuses in healthcare today centered on the reduction of costs, any tool that can help medical personnel become more efficient is a boon to the industry."

Smartphone applications can be developed for numerous types of processes including education, health management, data management, health information and other workflow processes. There are hundreds of thousands of apps available for smartphones users. For example, the Apple App Store offers more than 250,000 apps for its users.

The report finds that within specific categories like health management, some smartphone providers offer as many as 2,000 apps. These help monitor heart rates, manage diabetes, record exercise schedules and link with larger computer systems for managing health records.

A survey released by Buck Consultants, a Xerox company, found that the fastest-growing components of wellness programs are technology-driven tools. In three years, employers around the world expect a six-fold increase in their use of mobile technology – such as smartphones – to support employee wellness initiatives.

"The use of smartphones in professional healthcare is still taking shape, but some providers have seen the potential and are taking advantage of the technology," says Elder.

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