Report: 13K iPhone consumer health apps in 2012

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 22, 2011        

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Overall_Pie_594pxNext summer there will likely be slightly more than 13,000 health apps intended for use by consumers available for download in Apple’s AppStore, according to MobiHealthNews’ latest report: Consumer Health Apps for Apple’s iPhone. Based on an analysis of 18 months of data from Apple’s AppStore, it’s also clear the the average price of a paid health app is trending upward. Last February the average paid health app cost $2.77. As of July 2011 the average cost of a paid consumer health app was $3.21.

While MobiHealthNews predicts that there will be 13,000 consumer health apps available in the AppStore by next summer, today there are about 9,000 health apps available to consumers. While Apple’s Health & Fitness and Medical categories claim to offer thousands more apps, many of these are actually not health, medical, or fitness-related.

Given the title you’ve probably guessed that our new report, Consumer Health Apps for Apple’s iPhone, does not include a discussion or analysis of healthcare professional apps for the device platform. We are currently working on our healthcare professional apps report, which we plan to publish soon.

The number of health apps for consumers has grown at a steady, linear rate over the past 18 months. We expect it to continue on this track unless the regulatory environment changes drastically and scares off would-be developers from creating useful health apps for consumers:

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No surprise here: The largest group of consumer health apps in the AppStore are cardio fitness apps, particularly running apps, a number of which have claimed many millions of users during the past year.

For more up-to-date stats on today’s consumer health apps market, be sure to get your copy of Consumer Health Apps for Apple’s iPhone today.

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UN embraces mobility to tackle global health issues

By: Neil Versel | Sep 22, 2011        

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UN Foundation iPad appMobile health is on the big world stage now, at the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting.

Last week, the UN introduced its first mobile app, delivering news from various UN agencies and programs to Android, iPhone/iPad and Windows Phone devices. Among other functions, the app allows users to support and get customized updates from UN Foundation efforts in healthcare, including the mHealth Alliance. (The alliance, a collaboration of the UN Foundation, the Vodafone Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, this month named Patricia Mechael as its executive director.)

Then, this week, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, who is presiding over the 66th session of the UN General Assembly now underway in New York, called on world leaders to embrace mobile technologies in disease control and prevention. Al-Nasser, the UN ambassador from Qatar, said that new information and communications technologies like mobile connectivity offer a “fresh and invigorating approach,” according to an official UN account of his remarks.

“Only five years ago, who would have imagined that today a woman in sub-Saharan Africa could use a mobile phone to access health information on bringing her pregnancy safely to term?” Al-Nasser said at an awards ceremony accompanying the General Assembly’s High-level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs). “Or that today a young person in the Middle East could use a mobile phone to help manage diabetes?”

Al-Nasser added that mobile devices could help achieve the health component of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, including greater access to health services, the reduction of maternal and infant mortality and control of diseases that disproportionately affect poverty-stricken regions of the world, by 2015. “Indeed, there is growing evidence that the use of these technologies can be a critical component of some aspects of health. I fully believe that information and communications technologies can enable countries to meet the 2015 deadline,” the Qatari diplomat said.

At the meeting on NCDs, UN officials including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon introduced a global campaign to tackle conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer, that the UN says is responsible for 63 percent of all deaths worldwide.

Misinformation exacerbates mHealth growing pains

By: Neil Versel | Sep 22, 2011        

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Neil VerselLike any rapidly evolving industry, mobile health is suffering some growing pains.

A study published in the September issue of the journal Diabetes Care found that type 2 diabetes patients who were given behavioral coaching with the mobile phone-based WellDoc DiabetesManager system lowered their hemoglobin A1c readings significantly more than those who only received care during occasional doctor visits and through self-management.

If the WellDoc system was linked to clinical decision support, the results were striking. Researchers from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore found that the group of patients whose physicians had access to CDS saw their A1c levels drop by 1.9 percentage points. Those in a control group, who only received traditional, office-based care had a median A1c reduction of 0.7 points.

“To our knowledge, this is the first cluster-randomized study of a mobile diabetes-coaching intervention conducted in a community setting over a 1-year treatment period. Few previous studies of electronic or mobile communication interventions for diabetes were randomized, included a control group or covered 1 year,” the researchers wrote.

But it was not all good news. The researchers observed no “convincing” changes in other measures of diabetes control, including blurred vision, pain, depression, and abnormal blood pressure and lipid counts. They hope future studies could focus more on these secondary measures of diabetes control, but for now, there remains plenty of fodder for skeptics in many areas of mobile health. Keep reading>>

Report: Telehealth market $6B by 2020

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 21, 2011        

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According to research firm InMedica, unit shipments of telehealth equipment worldwide were worth $163.3 million in 2010, with the vast majority in North and South America ($122.9 million). By 2015, InMedica projects the total will be $990 million, and by 2020, $6.28 billion, with North and South America contributing 36 percent of the total.

According to the report, increasing use of home-monitoring medical devices such as blood glucose meters, pulse oximeters, weight scales and peak flow meters will spur economic growth of the sector. In 2010, the biggest categories of peripherals were blood pressure monitors, weight scales, and blood glucose meters, which will remain constant in 2015 and 2020. “In 2010, the combined unit shipments of home-use digital blood glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, weight scales, pulse oximeters, and peak flow meters used in telehealth applications were estimated to be around 134,000,” the report stated. “By 2015, the unit shipments are forecast to grow to over 950,000.”

Wireless devices will increase in total percentage, with wired telehealth devices decreasing, according to the firm.

Other interesting numbers include the shipments of telehealth “gateways” totalling 67,000 in 2010, to an expected 561,000 in 2015 and over 3.5 million units by 2020.

Public healthcare systems that aim to reduce hospital visits and stay lengths will also be a critical factor. The study claims the U.S. leads countries in telehealth markets, citing the Veteran’s Health Administration’s home Telehealth service, which aims to have 92,000 patients enrolled on Telehealth services by 2012. Large-scale trials have also occurred in Europe, “most notably in the UK in 2010 and 2011, where PCTs have initiated some projects involving more than 2,000 patients.”

“What is apparent is the convergence of many different industries in this space, including Telehealth companies, device manufacturers, healthcare agencies, service providers and telecommunication companies to name but a few,” stated Diane Wilkinson, Research Manager at InMedica, in a press release. “With such interest from a wide range of investors and the need to minimize healthcare expenditure globally while managing the chronic disease epidemic, there is obvious motivation for the full acceptance of Telehealth from governments, physicians and patients alike.”

Read the full press release below and the InformationWeek article here. Keep reading>>

ZocDoc appointment booking comes to Boston

By: Brian Dolan | Sep 21, 2011        

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ZocDocZocDoc a free iPhone, Android, or web app that enables users to schedule dentist and doctor appointments launched in the greater Boston area last week. ZocDoc’s database includes user reviews of providers, which insurance they accept, and other relevant background information to help potential patients determine the best provider for them. Users can also find out ahead of time whether they will be visiting with a physician or physician assistant.

While the service is free for patients, doctors pay a $250 monthly fee to fill open appointments.

Earlier this year ZocDoc announced a $50 million third round of funding from DST Global. The company’ has raised about $70 million to date.

According to a report in the Boston Herald, about 40 percent of ZocDoc users get appointments with doctors that will take place within 24 hours of booking, while about 60 percent secure appointments that are three or fewer days away. ZocDoc claims the average wait time for an appointment using legacy methods is about 50 days for Massachusetts.

The service is now available in 11 cities and for some 40 different doctor specialties. The site launched in 2007 as an appointment booking site for dentists.

Healthagen, which offers the iTriage mobile app, recently added appointment booking to its app after it acquired AppointmentCity.com for an undisclosed sum this past February.

More on the Boston launch over at the Herald

Nokia to launch diabetes program in India

By: Chris Gullo | Sep 21, 2011        

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CMM-2011-LargeArogya World, a US-based non-profit, announced a collaboration with Nokia at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting this week on an SMS-based diabetes prevention program in India. The program aims to raise awareness about diabetes and its prevention through text messages and hopes to reach one million consumers in rural and urban India over the next two years.

A consortium of organizations in India and the US, including Emory University, Biocon, LifeScan, and Aetna, are providing financial and research support. Market research firm Synovate will conduct a two-year analysis of the program’s effectiveness.

“Tough challenges in global health can be best addressed through public-private partnerships — no one organization can do it alone,” stated Arogya World founder Nalini Saligram (Ph.D.) in a press release. “Arogya World is committed to preventing diabetes through lifestyle changes in India, and is leveraging mHealth as a solution to the diabetes crisis. If found effective, our mHealth efforts in India could potentially serve as a benchmark for chronic disease prevention in developing countries, where diabetes and NCDs have the highest impact.”

As part of the program, Arogya World will provide free content for six months to both current and new Nokia customers in India who have Nokia Life Tools, a program that provides targeted information via SMS for Healthcare, Agriculture, Entertainment and Education. Messages will be delivered twice a week and are available in 12 commonly used languages in India. After the sixth month introductory period, the diabetes awareness and prevention messages will be available to subscribers at a nominal fee. Nokia Life Tools is currently available in India, China, Indonesia and Nigeria.

“Mobile phones are ushering in an information revolution in the daily lives of millions, especially in the emerging markets. We are very pleased to partner with Arogya World and the other industry partners to take mobile Health services to the next level. Delivering targeted diabetes prevention messages to a profiled audience using our Nokia Life Tools platform, in a sustained and continuous engagement will, we believe, encourage people to adopt a healthier lifestyle,” stated Jawahar Kanjilal, Global Head, Nokia Life Tools, in a press release.

“Applications of mobile health messaging in other areas such as maternal/baby health have demonstrated that the technology has tremendous potential as a tool to empower individuals to better manage their health,” stated Leona Brenner-Gati, MD, Medical Director at LifeScan, in a press release. “We are eager to see if mobile health is found effective in diabetes prevention, screening, and management.”

LifeScan also helped fund the pilot study of WellDoc’s DiabetesManager.

Read the full press release after the jump.

Keep reading>>