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IMS Health: Lots of Health Apps, Little Value

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 3.24.09 PMFirst published on, IMS Health has a robust report on the state of the app economy around healthcare, and the picture isn’t pretty. John Mack and I discussed this a bit on a recent podcast and this report validates a lot of our perspectives on the issue.

There is a significant skew in download volume for healthcare apps, with more than 50% of available apps achieving fewer than 500 downloads. Conversely, 5 apps account for 15% of all downloads in the healthcare category. The reason behind the limited downloads, and hurdles to improved uptake, span all stakeholders. Patients currently face a dizzying array of healthcare apps to choose from, with little guidance on quality or support from their doctors.

As I discovered when I first started collecting apps for the mobile wiki, theres a ton of crap out there. Given how many health apps there are and how little value most provide, these numbers don’t surprise me. This shouldn’t dissuade you from making an app, especially if you’ve done the leg work to clearly understand the value proposition you wish to fill and have carefully thought though how to make and additive experience for your customers. The take away for me is this: Have a promotional plan for your app. The app economy isn’t a build-it-and-they-will-come environment. The scale of this report illustrates that you’ll experience a high degree of failure if you simply want to put something in the App Store and hope it will catch on.

Download the full report here (Via IMS Health).

About that Apple HealthKit hospital rollout….

Reuters has an exclusive report this morning about hospitals rolling out pilot programs using Apple’s HealthKit. If you work in this business no doubt link to it have flown through your Twitter feed all morning. If you read the MacRumors version of the article, it’s obviously all-Apple, but there’s a bunch of interesting things that are being overlooked in the Reuters report.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this. When Apple rolled out the HealthKit announcement, they indicated they were working with many of the EMR providers to begin integrating data collection. Reuters confirms this. Read More…

The pharma implications of the FDA’s policy on low risk devices


On January 19th, the FDA released draft guidance about wearables dated January 20th, proving not only do they have access to a time machine, but they are totally willing to rub our noses in it. The document, which you can download here, relates to the FDA’s policy on what it deems as “low risk devices,” i.e., wearables.

Low risk devices, by the FDA’s definition, are those that, “involve claims about sustaining or offering general improvement to conditions and functions associated with a general state of health that do not make any reference to diseases or conditions.” And, more specifically, a general wellness device has,

1)  intended uses to promote, track, and/or encourage choice(s), which, as part of a healthy lifestyle, may help to reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases or conditions; and,

2)  intended uses to promote, track, and/or encourage choice(s) which, as part of a healthy lifestyle, may help living well with certain chronic diseases or conditions.

Read More…

For Pharma, All Of This Has Happened Before


As someone who grew up with the internet and made it my career I can tell you, the era we’re in right now looks and smells oddly familiar. How? Well ‘back in my day’ the Internet was just a thing. Conceptual. New. No one understood it but everyone was talking about it. Consumers played with it. Brands tried to use it. The media talked about it endlessly. Like with most new things, objectives for success were often poorly defined, but money, gobs and gobs of money were thrown at it.

Strategies evolved that more or less correlated to success. People got smarter. The tools got cheaper and easier to use while the barriers to working the on net got smaller and easier to manage.

Inside of pharma, regulators and brand managers alike struggled to define how to use the internet properly. Adoption happened slowly. Things seemed risky. Hands were wrung, and decisions delayed until others took the lead.

More case studies were needed.

Soon everyone was an internet ‘expert’ and the scrum began. Every agency, freelancer, and Johnny-come-lately tried to get digital work. Innovation was sought at the expense of meaningful results. Things had to be new. They had to be shiny. And they had to have lots and lots of Flash.

Prices fell. The talent pool swelled. Expertise was defined by what you’d just launched. The noise level rose. Soon it became hard to tell what was great from what was working. Flashy was the new good.

Now, reread the previous paragraphs and replace the word ‘internet’ with the words ‘social media’ or ‘mobile’.  All of this has happened before.

Then, terrible things happened. The economy tanked. 9/11 occurred. The dot–conomy imploded. All those people dreaming of their internet riches and piles of stock options e-lost all their virtual iDollars and ended up in

The party was over.

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