Mental health dominates as top therapeutic area for business growth in 2023

Mental health emerges as the clear winner for 2023 as the therapeutic area with best business potential according to digital health industry stakeholders. Metabolism and endocrinology which used to lead the board for years is no longer the leader even though trailing behind with cardiology. Women’s health has had a long jump to reach the fourth spot in 2023.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption and development of digital health solutions. With respect to therapeutic areas, digital mental health solutions, in particular, witnessed a significant increase in demand as a result of the widespread psychological and emotional impact of the pandemic and the increased challenges of accessing in-person mental health care. R2G has been conducting global business outlook and mHealth economic surveys in order to collect stakeholder opinions and predictions on various digital health topics including therapeutic areas with best business potential over a period of around 10 years now. The comprehensive survey results of 2023 survey are available in the informative whitepaper “Global Digital Health Business Outlook Survey – 2023”.

The results of 2023 survey showed that mental health leads the pack with 67% industry stakeholders believing in its potential as the therapeutic area with the best business potential, even stronger than in 2022 (45%). With thousands of new mental health vendors launching their services in the last 2-3 years, the global mental health app market size is expected to reach USD 17.5 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 16.5% from 2022 to 2030[1].

Moreover, digital chronic care providers like Teladoc and Livongo have also added mental health offerings to their existing (chronic) disease-specific services supporting the growing demand to virtual mental care. Besides, cardiology and metabolism and endocrinology are following behind. The survey participants ranked cardiology second (43%) and metabolism and endocrinology (36%) third for their business potential in 2023. Interestingly, women’s health has gained way more traction than the previous year to reach the fourth spot (a 22%-point increase) with oncology at the fifth rank.

Over the years, the perceived ranking for the business potential of the therapeutic areas has changed according to the digital health industry stakeholders. Diabetes used to be the clear leader for years with majority of stakeholders believing in its business potential (70% in 2015, 73% in 2016 and 68% in 2017). However, that is not the case now. With the belief gradually declining since 2020, metabolism and endocrinology therapeutic area has fallen to third rank in 2022 and 2023 (regrouped by combining diabetes and obesity from 2022 onwards).

Interestingly, depression (renamed as mental health from 2022 onwards), received only about one-third of the votes compared to diabetes in 2016, has gained more traction over the years to eventually lead the therapeutic areas in 2020 after which it has successfully retained its top rank. Chronic heart disease and hypertension have been more or less constant with their individual ranking but landed at second position after being regrouped to cardiology from 2022 onwards. Surprisingly, oncology and women’s health therapeutic area have also gained importance and have entered the leader board to be ranked in top therapeutic areas with best business potential since 2022.

In recent years, digital women’s health market has seen a significant increase in importance. It is at an exciting inflection point with increased innovation, public awareness and capital. See also R2G report: The Global Market of Digital Women’s Health Solutions 2017-2024. Furthermore, the sudden rise in popularity seen in 2023 compared to 2022, as shown in the survey results, can be attributed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Another reason is improved clinical evidence especially for digital fertility, pregnancy, or new-born solutions. An accelerated demand is expected to drive more innovation and investment in order to meet new and existing gaps in this market segment.

Conclusively, mental health emerges as the clear winner for 2023 as the therapeutic area with best business potential. Metabolism and endocrinology are no longer the leaders even though trailing behind with cardiology. Women’s health has had a long jump and has high potential for growth in the coming years.

The whitepaper uncovers compelling insights and stakeholder perspectives, delving into key business opportunities, partnership trends, key drivers of the digital health industry, and much more. Download your free copy now!

R2G has been constantly monitoring the global digital health industry since 2010. We provide strategic advice for how to build and grow a successful digital health business within all therapeutic areas, business models and regions. We are happy to talk and share our experience!

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[1] ResearchandMarkets, Mental Health Apps Market Size and Trend analysis report, 2022.