Reprinted with permission from http://e-caremanagement.com/healthcare-apps-just-scratching-the-surface-of-the-app-economy/



The headline in yesterday’s LA Times declares:

‘App Economy’ credited with creating 446,000 jobs.

What’s the App Economy?

The App Economy is described and quantified in a report by Technet, a bipartisan and political network of technology CEOs.

Nothing illustrates the job-creating power of innovation better than the App Economy. The incredibly rapid rise of smartphones, tablets, and social media, and the applications—“apps”—that run on them, is perhaps the biggest economic and technological phenomenon today.

‘App’, in the sense that we mean it today, did not exist before the iPhone was introduced in 2007.

From Zynga’s IPO prospectus: We refer to this as the “App Economy.” In the App Economy, developers can create applications accessing unique features of the platforms, distribute applications digitally to a broad audience and regularly update existing applications”

But the App Economy is much more than a better delivery channel for software. From the economic perspective, we can think of the App Economy as a collection of interlocking innovative ecosystems. Each ecosystem consists of a core company, which creates and maintains a platform and an app marketplace, plus small and large companies that produce apps and/or mobile devices for that platform. Businesses can belong to multiple ecosystems and usually do.

…the App Economy now is responsible for roughly 466,000 jobs in the United States, up from zero in 2007 when the iPhone was introduced.

How will the App Economy play out in healthcare?

An article in the Washington Post describe today’s participation of healthcare in the App Economy

At a convention last month on mobile medical devices, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted that nearly 12,000 health-related apps are at Apple’s iTunes store alone, “a number that will probably have gone up by the time I finish speaking.”

Depending on your perspective, 12K healthcare apps might sound like a lot or a little, but when you consider that healthcare costs are around 20% of GDP, we’re just scratching the surface.

In the long-term, its forseeable that apps for health and healthcare will be one of the highest value implementations of the App Economy.

Health is something you are concerned with 24x7x365 — wherever you might happen to be, not just at the doctor’s office.

The maturation of health IT and the impending interoperability of health record information will turbocharge innovation in health care apps.  Today’s health care apps are greatly limited — they typically must draw on information inputted by the customer himself or perhaps from the database of one company or care provider.

A patient health record like Healthvault begins to get past this limitation, but there’s a long way to go and a big upside in accessing and applying consolidated health record information in apps.

3 Responses to “Healthcare Apps: Just Scratching the Surface of the App Economy”

  1. In healthcare IT, the current state of the practice is for vendors to build (at extra cost) custom interfaces for every two applications that want to interoperate. How many smartphone Apps would there be if Apple (or any Smartphone OSvendor) had to write a custom interface for every developer who wanted to build an app for their phone?

    We need open interfaces, public APIs in order for this to really flourish in healthcare IT. Can this really happen? it will take a major shift in thinking from the HIT vendors.


    • Leonard Kish says:

      True, Don. But I also think it’s inevitable for them to stay relevant over the long haul. Payment reform will drive the need for data far beyond the walls of traditional care settings. Something like 10% of relevant health care data is captured in EMRs.

      Hoping Dave Whitlinger, from the New York eHealth Collaborative will touch on this very issue at the eCollaboration Forum at HIMSS12.

  2. You’re right of course. Especially that economics is the only carrot (stick?) big enough to induce that change.

    Unfortunately I will miss the eCollaboration Forum at HIMSS12. From all I’ve seen it will be a great event.

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