While online application stores still appear to be the top way to obtain and distribute m-health applications for smartphone use, the stores' dominance could soon be shifting.
Instead, traditional healthcare channels--such as hospitals, physicians, or specialized healthcare product vendors--are expected to become the predominant distribution channels, according to a new global survey, "Mobile Health Market Report 2010-2015--The Impact of Smartphone Applications."
The survey, conducted by a Berlin-based market research company, noted that the smartphone app store model has been a key driver behind the initial success of m-health applications over the last two years, reports eGov Monitor.
About 53 percent of survey respondents currently feel that app stores are the best distribution channels--followed by healthcare websites (49 percent). At the same time, traditional health distribution channels such as physicians (34 percent), hospitals (31 percent), and pharmacies (16 percent) rank as second- and third-tier distribution channels today.
By 2015, survey participants anticipate that traditional distribution channels such as hospitals (68 percent), physicians (65 percent), and traditional healthcare websites (56 percent) will become the main platforms for selling m-health solutions.
While all distribution channels are expected to grow in importance, developers envision that within the next five years, the major distribution channels will be physicians prescribing or suggesting applications for patients as components of treatment.