Big name mHealth apps rank low in satisfaction study

Medical software and health/fitness apps, overall, are finding fans while achieving an average satisfaction score of 78 and 76, respectively, which puts them in the excellent range in the inaugural "2015 State Of The U.S. Health & Fitness Apps Economy" ARC 360 report.

Applause, who published the report, looked at 39 health and fitness apps and 28 medical apps for the report. The score ranking is split into five segments ranging from poor (0 to 39) to fair (40 to 59), and good (60 to 69) to excellent (70 to 89). The top "winning" tier includes scores of 90 and above.

The top three high-scoring health and fitness tools were all menstruation tracking apps, landing very near to or in the "winning" ranking category. Four apps hit the elite level, getting a ranking of above 70 from more than 50,000 users, including FitNow's Lose It and Fitness Keeper's RunKeeper.

In the medical app ranking, Taconic System's Blood Pressure Monitor achieved a 90 score and Atomic Apps' Diseases Medical Dictionary got an average score of 83. WebMD's Webscape ranks much lower, with a score of 73, and was bested by Azumo's Glucose Buddy: Diabetes Log, which scored a 76. 

The report also shows that some well-known brand name apps aren't big favorites with consumers. Many of them were rated as fair, making them "apps customers tolerate because they serve a purpose." This segment includes Google's My Tracks (59), Weight Watchers Mobile (54), Fitbit and Nike Fuelband (54 and 53 respectively).

"Health and fitness brands with apps rated as fair need to expand testing out of the lab and into the real world. Winning mobile apps demand additional testing where users naturally interact with your digital experiences," the report's authors say, noting users are expecting much more from mHealth apps.

The ranking insights align with research and reports regarding app development and success. While there is steady app innovation and competition, there is growing gender divide as mHealth platforms are not taking into account gender-specific health aspects, according to an article at The Atlantic.

In addition, app developers are way behind the eight ball in delivering on the enormous promise of mHealth tech and must stop creating "pet rock" software and devices that don't help patients or providers, says consumer J.C. Herz in a Wired column.

The ARC 360 report notes the key element to mHealth app success lies with listening to users and providing needed, useful tools.

"For mHealth app developers that requires being intuitive, offering app stability, fast performance and response while all keeping customer information secure and private," notes the report, which recommends developers engage with an intended user base as early as possible and monitor ongoing customer feedback.

For more information:
- check out the report

Related Articles:
App developers don't cater to patients who need mHealth most
Tech analyst: mHealth transformation will arrive in 2015
Why future mobile medical tools will put fitness monitors, heartbeat apps to shame
FDA approves apps aimed at reducing readmissions, enhancing post-op care effort