Pharma apps suffer from the same problems as consumer apps: a disproportionate few garner most of the downloads.
An analysis of big pharma apps in the U.S., U.K. and Germany by Smart Patient found that the top 10 apps accounted for 66% of all downloads. The German-based app developer looked at 359 apps from 20 of the world's largest pharma companies, including AstraZeneca ($AZN), Bayer, Sanofi ($SNY), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Novartis ($NVS) and Pfizer ($PFE).
Pharma apps also had the "one-and-done" syndrome in common with consumer apps. About 30% of the pharma apps had never been updated and another 29% had only one update.
Half of the apps were patient-facing, with many built to support one specific drug (38%). While cancer at 11%, and heart disease and diabetes, both at 7% were the most covered chronic conditions among the apps, not one app for chronic disease even broke into the top 10.
The top 5 apps were Sanofi's Go Meals, Bayer's Clarityn's Pollen Forecast UK, Johnson & Johnson's 7 Minute Workout App, Sanofi's PillReminder Denk an mich, and the Merck ($MRK) Manuals professional edition. The GoMeals app had 850,000 downloads, which pales when compared with Facebook's ($FB) half a billion downloads or even Kim Kardashian's app game at 50 million, but almost one million downloads is a success marker, even in the consumer world.
The bigger challenge is getting people to use the apps again and again. While this study didn't look at repeat use, in general, one in four apps are abandoned after one use, according to Localytics.
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