A typical industry diagram would demonstrate that it has moved from the introductory stage–where the first iPhone and medical apps were released, and is now in the decidedly growing stage of the product life cycle.
As the industry matures, more and more people are taking notice of this billion dollar industry.
Indeed, it would be absurd a couple years ago to see a doctor pulling out an iPhone to check a patient’s blood sugar, or cardiogram results. Now, such practices are commonplace.
In fact, we have reviewed apps such as Track 3 which is an patient-centric diabetes planner and carb counter that logs and charts the following: glucose levels, exercise, medications, and weights. There is also a study reported by the iMedicalApps team over Glucose Buddy, which concluded that there was a significant decrease in HbA1c in comparison to a control group receiving only usual care.
This represents one small aspect of the total global mHealth market and its possibilities for helping to improve patient care.
According to one article, investment in the kinds of companies that make health information apps rose 78% in 2011 to $766 million. Qualcomm has started a $100 million fund, Insight Venture Partners is putting $40 million into a startup and Oprah Winfrey is interested as well, with her company investing in a website that helps doctors and patients interact.
David Jahns, managing partner of Galen Partners LP, a Stamford, Connecticut-based private equity firm explains.
“Demand for apps that let doctors and nurses see test results quickly and monitor vital signs remotely, combined with a push from government and insurers to collect better data to contain rising medical costs, is propelling investor interest in an array of health information technology.”Since demand is fueling the growth of this market, there is also a corresponding increase in money invested. The article mentions that investment in health information technology has doubled since 2006, and rose 78 percent in 2011 from 2010, according to the National Venture Capital Association. Funding totaled $184 million in 27 deals in the first quarter of this year, according to Mercom Capital Group, an Austin, Texas-based consultant to health-care companies.
Industry venture investments of $2 million or more per deal are up about 30 percent this year, with most startups getting an average of $11.8 million, said Halle Tecco, chief executive officer of Rock Health, a seed accelerator for health technology startups.
Not only that, but Oprah Winfrey is also investing in mHealth ventures. Galen Partners led a $14 million investment in WebMD founder Jeff Arnold’s newest project, Atlanta-based Sharecare. The company began in 2010 in partnership with Dr. Mehmet Oz of Oprah Winfrey fame — Winfrey’s Harpo Studios is also a backer.
Sharecare has built searchable drug, supplement and wellness databases and has online tools for providers to connect with potential patients. On the consumer side, the company’s website provides thousands of answers to health questions by experts from hospitals, care provider associations and companies like Pfizer and Walgreens.
The government has taken notice as well to the industry. Regulations are being developed and standards to constitute what a medical app actually is. Not only that, but the U.S. economic stimulus package in 2009 set incentives for health-care providers to adopt electronic records, and President Obama’s 2010 health-care system overhaul is fostering a climate of change as it pushed providers further to cut costs and improve services.
mHealth apps appear to be a step toward this drive to improve patient care. Stay tuned for more information on the exciting and growing mHealth market.