28 percent purely digital players transform the mhealth market

Last year’s hype of mobile health app has blown over and moved on to other topics. In the meantime the mobile health market and its players have developed into a vivid eco-system. The hype has proven not to be a bubble, but has created solid businesses.

But who forms the global mHealth community? Who is behind the 325,000 mHealth apps published in app stores today? Let’s take a closer look at the stakeholders involved.

The new “mHealth Economics 2017 – Current Status and Future Trends” report reveals a 2017’s market segmentation status. The results are somewhat surprising: 28% of the global mHealth market is occupied by purely digital market players (mHealth app companies and accelerators / incubators) and traditional healthcare stakeholders (industry incumbents: medical device and pharma companies, health insurers, hospitals, telehealth services) hold 32% of the market.


One of the key findings in the mHealth Economics 2017 report is that 28% of the mHealth app market consists of purely digital market players. It sounds obvious that in mobile health the market players are digital companies – but it’s not, when you think about where the market is coming from and who is constituting the health market: pharma companies, health insurers, medtech companies, hospitals, physicians and so.

The origin of mobile apps has changed that market. A new category of market players has arrived: the “mHealth app company” – and has entirely re-shaped and disrupted the health market ever since.

In 2017 mHealth app companies constitute 26% of the mHealth market. Within only 8 years the inert health market has been taken over to more than one quarter by pure digital players.

mHealth app companies – Who are those digital intruders?

The mHealth app market players are usually based on purely digital business models. Their core business consists of an app. But nowadays, “an app is not just an app” – often times the app is part of an “eco system” of an app, a system of sensors or other linked technology, a website, adjusted services, monetization options and so on.


New market players pave the way for novel digital health apps

In 2017 the market of traditional healthcare is being penetrated by digital intruders, bringing mostly “digital-only” business models and having a high impact on the mHealth app market. The market is shaken up by 28% of purely digital market players – mHealth app companies (representing 26% of the market) and accelerators / incubators (representing 2% of the market). Digital intruders tend to be European, rather than North American, thanks to the well-established technology and healthcare ecosystems, as well as EU governments boosting tech entrepreneurship and supporting healthcare innovation.

The group of digital intruders (mHealth app companies) has an ambiguous profile when it comes to their practical background and profitability: 14% of mHealth app companies are very experienced, having published their first app in 2010 or before. Being the pioneers, they shaped this novel market and lead for years the new generation of services with clear vision, robust strategy and know-how based on lessons learnt and best practices.

38% of the digital healthcare transformers are newcomers with just one or two years of experience. Being new to the game, the majority of their apps are not achieving significant annual download numbers even though they have entered a market that is not only very dynamic and with great potential, but also offers a variety of business opportunities. Most app portfolios only generate a couple of thousand downloads (55% have less than 5,000 annual downloads).

In general, the mHealth app companies monetize the most by licensing their products. 10% of mHealth app publishers are successful companies with a revenue of $1m per year and above; 22% are rather unsuccessful companies with a revenue <$10k per year. (Get a free copy of the report and learn how much is invested into digital health start-ups and the most attractive countries for digital health solutions).

Not surprisingly, other players in healthcare have different monetization models for their digital solutions; e.g. app development agencies monetize via development for 3rd parties, whereas medical device companies monetize via device sales.

Traditional healthcare stakeholders

The mHealth app market picture will not be complete if we don’t look at the other key market players. Traditional health companies hold 32% of the digital health market. They are represented by medical device and pharma companies, health insurers, hospitals and telehealth services. These stakeholders use mHealth solutions as a digital extension of their core businesses and compete with pure digital health companies whose business is 100% focused on mobile products and services.

Non-healthcare related stakeholders
23% of the market consists of stakeholders that are not directly health-related. And different institutions hold 11% market share

In other words: The market for mobile health is very attractive. In fact, so attractive that non-health-related players such as market research companies, IT tech companies and app developer agencies have entered the market with their know-how and app related products/services. Once big players in the mHealth market, Telco companies have shrunk to a mere 1%. Universities, NGOs and educational organizations represent a minor fragment of the digital health market, having a 10% share altogether.

The mHealth market has been growing steadily over the last years, and continues to do so. The purely digital health intruders are transforming the mHealth app market with the introduction of new technologies, new business models and a niche know-how. At the same time, successful and experienced publishers have found their role in the market and are leading the way for followers – as revealed in the mHealth Economics 2017 report.

Would you agree that the healthcare market is shaken up mostly by new, purely digital players? Share with us your opinion below!

And if you want to know how successful mHealth app publishers are operating, how the market is changing, and where it is heading? Download mHealth Economics 2017 free report now!


About the mHealth Economics 2017 free report

The 26-pages mHealth Economics 2017 free report examines how successful mHealth app publishers are operating, how the market is changing, and where it is heading. The trending topics covered are: investments into digital health, characteristics of digital health app publishers, the impact of digital intruders on the healthcare industry, what technologies are shaping the digital health market and much, much more. You can download the report for free.

The report is part of mHealth Economics program – the biggest program in mobile and digital health with free reports, paid reports, webinars, market analysis and outreach into the global digital health community.

Do you want to be a part of our mHealth Economics Program and get in contact with the global digital health community? – Contact us: [email protected]