Why do asthma apps only capture less than 1% of the addressable market? (Top 10 asthma apps)

Asthma is a chronic disease that has no cure and has reached epidemic proportions. According to the European Federation of Allergy and Airway Diseases Patients Association, by 2025 the number of people with Asthma could reach 400-450 million. Currently almost 1,500 apps target asthma patients. The adoption rate of these apps within the target group is below 1%.

Do current asthma digital solutions have an impact on the market and are they accepted by asthma sufferers as vital tools to best manage their disease?

Today around 300 million people are suffering from asthma. In only 8 years this number is expected to rise to 400-450 million, increasing almost a 50%.  However, less than 1% of the addressable target group is currently actively using asthma apps. What are the reasons behind this low user adoption rate and why with the current asthma app solutions, mHealth publishers have managed to just barely scratch the surface on this market?

To answer these questions, let’s look at the Top 10 asthma apps in 2017. The list is exclusive to asthma mobile apps with a core business to serve and empower asthma sufferers. Currently, almost 1,500 mobile apps are targeting asthma patients in both the Apple App Store and the Google Store. The preferred mobile platform is iOS accounting for 100% of all top 10 core asthma apps releases from mHealth publishers. 50% of these apps are also published on Android.

The top core asthma apps promise to support the treatment and a better management of the disease by:

  • Tracking (e.g. daily asthma symptoms and asthma medication intake)
  • Recording (e.g. daily record of allergic rhinitis and / or asthma triggers)
  • Initiating treatment (e.g. evidence-based guidelines and recommended steps to initiate treatment based on the shared personal data)
  • Reporting & Control (e.g. share asthma diary and progress with doctors; asthma control via augmented reality technology)
  • Recommendation (e.g. the nearest Respiratory Specialist)
  • Education (e.g. correct technique of how to use one’s inhalers for maximum benefit)
  • Customization (e.g. Peak Expiratory Flow Rate log, detecting any changes important for the patient asthma control)
  • Smart sensor attached to asthma and COPD inhalers (e.g. real-time inhaler usage data helps to prevent and predict unexpected attacks)
  • Reminder (e.g. timely dose reminders)


While the Top 10 core asthma apps help asthma users to better manage their conditions and some allow caregivers to have a near real-time comprehensive view of their patients’ health, they have not attracted significant downloads that have been converted into active users yet. With an active users share below 1% of the addressable market, the asthma market is largely underserved.

So why are asthma sufferers not downloading and actively using the current asthma apps?

There are multiple reasons why none of the almost 1,500 solutions didn’t manage to attract a substantial user number. Here are the most obvious reasons (basics):

  • No updates: 42% of the asthma apps belong to the longtail with zero downloads and updates in 2017
  • Little added value: Most of the asthma mobile solutions are pure trackers apps, not offering any additional value like environmental sensing or forecast alerts
  • No behavior change support: Behavior change supporting features are especially helpful for COPD patients to self-manage their physical activity, starting with, for example, an exercise advice to help change patient’s attitude and behavior or follow up on their work /results in other apps
  • Little coaching / AI support: Coaching delivered either via personal coaches or artificial intelligence is also a proven method to increase users’ retention and apps acceptance, but has not been implemented in today’s asthma solutions
  • Little automated data input: Automated data input via connected devices is also only available for a small share of solutions
  • Seldom HCP support: Research HCP portals and license models are also hardly offered, excluding health insurance companies (HIC’s) and HCPs as distribution partners

Asthma apps publishers might want to have a closer look at other mobile app market segments, including diabetes care, nutrition or fertility solutions. Publishers within those categories have implemented features and services attracting and retaining users to a much larger degree. A small group of digital asthma/COPD solution providers, including Propeller Health, NuvoAir or FindAir are getting the basics right, but they are still too few to leave a trace in this target group.

Research2Guidance’s analysis of the 2017 mobile health apps that target primarily asthma patients shows that the asthma market is yet to experience its breakthrough. Given the current asthma apps little impact on the digital solutions market and no asthma app dominating the market, the asthma app publishers must rethink their business concepts and service offerings. Continued quality improvement of the asthma apps to meet best in class standards for better user acquisition and retention, in addition to further improvement of digital health innovation competencies to offer more original and personalized mHealth solutions in relation to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of asthma sufferers will have a high impact on the market. The opportunity is there to be taken and to play a key role in improving the quality of asthma sufferers’ lives.

Thank you for reading it. Your feedback and comments are highly welcomed.

If you are interested in finding out how to tap into asthma app market, what opportunities we have discovered and what are the best practice elements for a successful mobile app solution, please contact us at: [email protected]

  1. Jonna says:

    I enjoy the article