What Are We Doing to Identify the Best Health Apps?

Tom Sullivan asks a great question about mobile health apps. How many of them really matter? I coyly replied on Twitter that it’s only the ones that get used. In the article Tom Sullivan links to in the tweet above, Jack McCarthy says the following:

With some 165,000 health-related apps available, in fact, a mere 36 comprise nearly 50 percent of downloads. Not to be confused with 36 percent, that’s a total of 36 applications, according to a study by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics that analyzed 26,000 apps.

That’s pretty startling to think that 36 apps comprise half of the mobile health app downloads. However, these shear numbers aren’t really a problem on their own. I’ve seen hundreds of apps that shouldn’t have more than a few thousand users. They’re so niche that their entire target market is small.

The biggest problem I see is how are doctor or patients suppose to find these niche health apps amidst the other 165,000 health related apps. That’s like finding a proverbial in a haystack and we’re not talking about a little mini haystack, but a massive haystack.

The best we have today is great mobile health websites like mobihealthnews and iMedicalApps that do what they can to keep up with all the changes. They do a good job covering the industry, but even if they both covered 1 app a day (which is not an easy endeavor), then we’d still only learn about 730 apps a year of the 165,000 out there. That’s 0.4% of the health apps that exist or what we’d call a rounding error.

This is not an easy task. How do you filter the wheat from the chaff (and there’s a lot of chaff)? I have a feeling in the medical world that the various specialty specific medical societies will be one filter for mobile health apps. Those societies could perform a really great service for their members by identifying the health apps that apply to their specialties and helping vet those apps out.

How do you think doctors and patients will be able to filter through all the health app noise? Is this an opportunity for an entrepreneur?