OEMs Vie for Sales Opportunities in Health Market

If you want to find out how much weight you’ve lost since joining the gym, there’s an app for that. If you want to keep track of your medications, there's an app for that. And if you want to log your blood pressure or glucose readings over time, there's an app for that, too.

Increasingly, software developers are introducing new health applications at a time when the smartphone market is growing and tablets are the new must-have tool. Added to this, the drive to improve personal health and wellness and the accelerated adoption of electronic medical records have changed the face of healthcare, which now provides the kind of business growth trajectory that high-tech equipment manufacturers and software developers salivate over.

Undoubtedly, the health apps market is a nascent one, and so far most of these apps run on Apple's iPhone and iPad, with the Google Android and other devices trying to catch up. In April, {complink 3847|Nokia Corp.} launched its own mobile application for the healthcare sector and has enabled some health apps to run on its devices.

Late last month, {complink 3426|Microsoft Corp.} enhanced its HealthVault platform, which stores and maintains health information. To encourage health app developers, the company has built client libraries for constructing standalone HealthVault applications across all of the most popular phone platforms. The software development kit and samples for the Windows Phone 7 are available now and will be made available soon for Apple iOS and Google Android.

Leading the field, Apple's approach, which has been to provide independent health app developers with a software platform that includes a published interface, has allowed developers to create health apps on their own and has helped to promote the Apple brand in the healthcare sector.

As smartphones have seen tremendous adoption rates, health apps for smartphones, have been a driving force for product adoption among healthcare providers. According to a recent report from global market research firm RNCOS, the main driver of growth in mobile health applications is the increasing adoption of smartphones during the past few years. At the end of 2009, smartphone penetration was around 21 percent — it is expected to be 50 percent by the end of 2011. Further, over 72 percent of physicians are smartphone users, and mobile health applications embedded in smartphones are a main reason for this increased usage, the report notes.

On the tablet front, it will be interesting to see how companies like HP, Dell, and Acer orient their new tablets to the healthcare market and whether they'll be able to encourage software developers to create health apps for these products. Already late to the tablet market, these companies may find that health apps can fuel tablet sales. Another recent study that polled 950 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) members showed that more than 25 percent of respondents plan to deploy the iPad and other iOS devices immediately, and nearly 70 percent plan to deploy the devices this year.

Certainly, the market is ripe for future revenue growth. A recently published PricewaterhouseCooper study found that half of consumers surveyed said they would buy mobile technology to address their health needs. Additionally, 40 percent of respondents would be willing to pay for a monthly mobile phone service or device that could send information to their doctors. Consumers polled said they would prefer to pay less than $10 for the monthly mobile phone service and less than $75 for the device. PwC estimates the annual consumer market for remote/mobile monitoring devices to be $7.7 billion to $43 billion, based on the range consumers said they would be willing to pay.

As OEMs unleash more tablets and smartphones into a market rife with competition, mobile device makers that take the healthcare sector lightly will lose out on what promises to be one of the most lucrative markets to come along in recent years. How these companies position their products in the healthcare sector will tell us a lot about their ability to react to a changing market that demands greater use of mobile devices. If high-tech companies can't make the most of the new opportunities that healthcare affords… well, there's no app for that!

15 comments on “OEMs Vie for Sales Opportunities in Health Market

  1. Ariella
    June 23, 2011

    Some of the apps are really very helpful. Some people are on a number of different medications and really do need to track them to make sure they take them at the right times and don't give themselves an unnecessary dose or skip one because they can't remember if they took it or not. Tracking blood sugar levels would be useful for diabetics, and, particularly, for women who experience gestational diabetes because they are not used to tracking it from before pregnancy. But the weight loss, I'm sure people will remember, as they are usually very clear on their goals as far as that goes.

  2. mario8a
    June 23, 2011


    I'm sure APPLE goes through an extensive work validating the APPS, but in terms of health there's must be some kind of certification by the FDA.



  3. AnalyzeThis
    June 23, 2011

    I think there's huge potential in this space. Obviously, there is a huge demand for the more “traditional” versions of these apps: diet books, for example, still can sell huge volumes of copies. A well-designed and marketed diet app, for example, which is constantly telling you what/when/how to eat would very likely be very profitable.

    But getting back to health apps: I do very much hope these type of things catch on, as it can only help progress in terms of modernizing health care IT in general. As we all know, much of the healthcare system still relies on antiquated infrastructure. Anything we can do to help modernize, reduce costs, and improve the quality of care would obviously be a step in the right direction!

  4. The Source
    June 23, 2011

    Hi mario8a ,

    Correct, there are several health apps and the medical devices they run on that require the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) 510(k) clearance before these companies can market and sell their products in the U.S.

    To give you a sense of what’s going on I’ve provided three links to stories about products that were approved by the FDA.

    mario8a, thanks for your comments, and for reading this story.


  5. The Source
    June 23, 2011


    A lot of these apps encourage people to monitor their health which helps them keep fit, active and healthy.  Obesity is a big problem in our society and is a factor that contributes to diabetes, heart failure and high blood pressure.  Once those chronic illnesses occur, that’s where the real costs in healthcare rise.  It’s wonderful to see the high-tech industry playing its part in fostering a healthier nation. 

    DennisQ, thanks for your comments.


  6. mario8a
    June 23, 2011

    Hi Nicole

    you're very welcome.

    I think the blood pressure cuff will be a success


  7. The Source
    June 23, 2011

    Hi Mario8a,

    I agree with you regarding the blood pressure monitor, which I think is a medical device that has great potential.  I also hope the IT transformation in health care will improve the quality of care for patients as well as reduce costs. 

    Once again, thanks for your response.



  8. Anand
    June 23, 2011

    A recently published PricewaterhouseCooper study found that half of consumers surveyed said they would buy mobile technology to address their health needs.


      This is a healthy trend indeed. Just wondering which company will benefit the most ?

  9. Houngbo_Hospice
    June 24, 2011

    Heath apps can bring a change to the healthcare industry and many of them are very cheap and affordable and they can be used both by patients and healthcare professionals. Please see this list of IPad healthcare apps that are said to be revolutionizing healthcare. 

  10. The Source
    June 24, 2011

    Hi anandvy ,

    When looking at health apps for mobile devices those OEMs that will benefit the most will be the ones that engage software developers to develop these apps for their devices.  Many developers have written their health apps for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, but Microsoft, Google and others see the potential and are increasingly engaging software developers to write health apps for their devices.  It will be interesting to see, five years from now, which mobile devices garner the most attention from software developers in the health apps space.  I still think it’s too early to say which OEM will benefit the most.

    Thanks for reading my article and for sharing your thoughts.


  11. Taimoor Zubar
    June 25, 2011

    I agree that when it comes to healthcare, the quality of everything related to it matters a lot. Same goes for these apps. If the users are relying on the information provided by these apps, the quality of these apps matter a lot. The problem here is that the healthcare rules differ from country to country and there is no such global standard for healthcare. There can be cases where the app might be safe to use in one region but not so safe in some other region. This can be a tricky case. Your thoughts on it, Nicole?

  12. KurtBS
    June 25, 2011

    Great and informative article as always Nicole.

    The OEMs definitely need to pay attention to the lucrative market of health apps. Industrial nations, such as the United States, now have populations living longer and getting heavier. All of whom are looking for the convienient solution to whatever health issue that plagues them. I do think that any company that is serious about health apps, especially ones that transmit personal medical data, will have to ensure and prove that the consumer's information will not be comprimised by some piece of s@!t hacker.

  13. The Source
    June 26, 2011

    Hi KurtBS ,  

    The privacy and security of personal health information is a very significant factor that will have a great impact on the development and proliferation of health apps. 

    Thanks for reading the article and for raising the issue of security, which is very important as more medical information moves from paper-based systems to digitized medical records.  


  14. The Source
    June 26, 2011

    Hi TaimoorZ ,

    I think that as OEMs consider which countries have the tougher regulations and which ones don’t they will be more inclined to manufacture medical devices in those countries that have the least level of government regulation and will established their manufacturing of medical devices in those countries as a way of getting their products to market faster. 

    Thanks for reading my article and for sharing your thougths on this topic. 


  15. Tim Votapka
    June 28, 2011

    I don't have the statistics handy, but if you look at the home health care scene in the U.S., you'll see a massive opportunity for growth. The aging patient base we've all acknowledged has spurred a significant volume of services and products among providers. Tracking the delivery of these services has been a priority for many organizations, agencies, hospice, etc. So as a result, you don't have to look far and wide to see the OEMs who are all over this.

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