Right now, mobile medical apps are only 1 to 2 percent of the overall market for mobile apps, but that number should grow rapidly for the next five years at least, according to market research house Kalorama Information.
The market for medical apps sat at about $150 million for 2011, but it should grow 25 percent annually for the next five years, Kalorama estimates. That’s nearly half a billion ($457 million and change) in revenue by 2017.
What do you think of the $457-million projection? Personally, I regard it as somewhat conservative if apps become more closely linked to day to day care. And there’s plenty of evidence that mobile medical apps are becoming a part of daily medical activity for patients and physicians. Just skim the excellent iMedicalApps.com for some examples:
* Vanderbilt University Medical Center has seen handwashing climb from 58 percent to 91 percent of encounters since a related mobile app and observation protocol were put into place.
* Track3, a diabetes planner and carb counter by Coheso, logs glucose levels, exercise, meds and weights, as well as calculating insulin doses. Perhaps even more usefully, the app lets patients e-mail a log of meds, glucose levels and activities to doctors.
* At CHRISTUS St. Michael’s Health System, they’re working to create an Integrated Nurse Training and Mobile Device Harm Reduction Program built around iPads. The system is being developed by Ringful Health, funded by a $1.6 million grant from CMS received by the health system.
To put things another way, what stands out for me from Kalorama’s study is not the numbers involved — it won’t affect patient care tremendously who’s making how much on an app — but the strong suggestion that mobile apps are making the leap from sort-of toys to core medical tools is pretty neat.