How connected the digital health world is and what does its future look like?

Today an app is more than just an app: The app is the center of a whole ecosystem of connectivity.

In the early days of mobile health, apps consisted of simple solutions: The app was installed on a mobile device and was connected to a data base. Over the years more and more connectivity options to various interfaces have been added: Medical device manufacturers started early to connect their devices to mobile apps. Digital solution providers offered special software kits to integrate their tools and services into mobile apps. Health app publishers started exchanging data with each other via standardized interfaces (APIs).

Today, the landscape for digital health is a well-established eco-system of multiple connectivity options. Apps are embedded into an ecosystem of connected devices, interfaces and exchanged data, Software Development Kits, connection to wearables and more. Usually the app is the interface for the user and the center of a whole range of other connected systems like:
Wearables and tracking sensors: Fitness trackers, wristbands, watches e.g. Apple watch
Medical devices: Exemplary devices are blood glucose monitors, stethoscopes, inhalers, ECGs, smart beds or spirometers
Electronic Health Records: medical files stored electronically and rather easy to share
Aggregated health data via API: Access to structured health data managed by a data aggregator accessed via an API
Tools: SDKs are providing sets of tools (e.g. documents, libraries, pieces of code or guidelines) to develop software quicker and easier.

We have published a new free report on “Connectivity in Digital Health“. Here are some of the report’s findings:

81% of all app publishers in healthcare are using tools
Tools are used in app development to cover every app developer’s issue like app testing, app performance, analytics, data storage, connecting to social networks, etc. Tool usage has increased by 9 percentage points (pp) within one year.
mHealth app publishers who are making extensive use of tools are more successful: Tool users report 4 times more downloads compared to non-tool users. They are earning more money and they are able to generate four times more downloads — but they also have a bigger budget for app development.

Sharing own data with others via API is becoming industry standard
27% of all mHealth app publishers are offering an API and 21% are planning to open their apps via API. Currently a little more than half (53%) of all mHealth app portfolios are not offering an API.
In a year-on-year comparison mHealth app publishers are becoming slightly more willing to give access to their data via API. The number has increased by 4 percentage points over one year. Sharing data with others via API might become the norm in healthcare soon.

42% of mobile health apps connect to sensors and wearable APIs, …
… which is 16pp less compared to one year ago. The abate of the fitness tracker hype has spilled over to mHealth apps connecting to external sensors and wearables as well.
Fitbit (52%) is the wearable API used the most, followed by iHealth and Withings. Wearable APIs that have lost the most percentage point within the last year are Jawbone, Fitbit and Mio (-5pp, -4pp and -3pp). Despite the average decline of connection to wearables, some companies managed to achieve growth last year: Withings (+7pp), iHealth and Garmin (both +5pp).

50% of mHealth app publishers are using API aggregation services
API aggregation services are bringing together APIs from different sources into one single “hub”. They are pulling data from different sources, combining it and making it available for third parties via another API and/or visual output.
Apple Healthkit is by far the most popular service with two thirds (63%) of API users opting for Apple. Number two is Google Fit (45%).

49% of all mHealth app publishers are integrating EHRs & EHR functionalities into their apps
By now, 37% of all mHealth app publishers are integrating EHRs (and respective EHR functionalities) into their mobile apps. This number has not changed within the last year.

Find more results in our report mHealth Economics 2017/2018 — Connectivity in Digital Health” — Download here for free!

This report is part of our mHealth Economics program — the biggest program on digital health globally. Part of mHealth Economics are regular surveys on the status and trends in digital healthcare.
In our cycle 2017/2018 we have already published two reports. You can download the reports for free here:
mHealth Economics 2017 — Current Status and Future Trends in Mobile Health
mHealth Economics — How mHealth App Publishers Are Monetizing Their Apps