According to a market research report published by Research2Guidance, 7.8% of diabetics with access to smartphones will use diabetes mHealth apps but warns that most apps fail to meet the best practice standards.
It is estimated that 382 million people worldwide are suffering from diabetes in 2013 and this number may rise to 592 million by 2035.
mHealth apps have been playing a very important role in helping diabetics manage this chronic condition and thus reduce healthcare costs.
According to the ‘Diabetes App Market 2014’ report released recently by the market research firm Research2Guidance, currently there are more than 1,100 mHealth apps listed on the Apple App Store and Google Play that are designed to help manage diabetes.
The report reveals that, at present, only 1.6 million people who make up 1.2% of the target market, defined as diabetics who own a smartphone or a tablet, are using diabetes mHealth apps and predicts that 24 million users or 7.8% of the target market will use diabetes apps by 2018.
- Azumio leading the pack with a 17.8% share
- Sanofi-Aventis (10.2%)
- Medivo (7.9%)
- Distal Thoughts (6.3%)
- BHI Technologies (5.6%)
- All others have a market share of less than 5%.
The report identifies four key driving factors of the mHealth apps market:
- Increasing number of diabetics reachable via smartphone apps
- Transition of diabetes apps from stand-alone products to bundled offerings along with wearables and plug-in glucometers
- Increasing competition that leads to better adoption of best practices
- Reimbursement of app costs by the traditional payers such as government health programs and health insurance companies.
With such a positive outlook of the market segment, no wonder 76% of the app publishers consider diabetes as the therapeutic area with the highest business potential for mHealth apps.
This would definitely lead to increased competition and possibly crowding and consolidation.
The report, however, warns that a vast majority of the diabetes apps currently available fall well below the expectations of the consumers. Ralf-Gordon Jahns, Research Director of the study wrote in a blog post that
“the main reason is that the majority of today’s 1,100 diabetes apps do not meet best practice standards. Apps still rely to a great extent on manual input of test results.”
“Interoperability with existing glucose meters and health & fitness apps to import blood sugar test, activity and food intake data is only an exception. Only a few diabetes apps take care of the important motivational aspect of diabetes management by using gamification elements, a supporting design as well as communication features to get feedback from friends and the physician,”
Diabetes apps performance
To rate the diabetes apps, the report translates their effectiveness into seven best practice elements of personalization, feedback, feature coverage, integration, motivational system, ease of data input and design & UX.
The worst-performing mHealth apps tend to:
- Have poor personalization with generic data and metrics
- Have passive and general feedback options
- Be built around a single function
- Lack integration
- Use short term motivation
- Require the data to be entered manually
- Sport a design that is too technical
On the other hand, best-performing apps personalize the user experience:
- With customized data and metrics
- Provide real-time feedback
- Offer multiple features and complete solutions
- Can be integrated with multiple devices
- Use strong motivational system to create behavioral change
- Provide automatic and effortless data input
- The design uses gamification elements to add high ‘fun’ quotient
The report notes that with the exception of Medtronic, Medisana, and Sanofi-Aventis, all other players are small publishers. With innovative design and right functional approach, any small app publishing company can carve its niche in the market.
“The ranking of the top 14 diabetes app publishers are not carved in stone,”
“The overall quality, total download and user numbers are not high enough to prevent new innovators complying with the best practice standards for diabetes app publishing and a good marketing strategy to turn the market upside down.”