Think about it: where would we be without those little devices we carry around in our pockets to help organise, inform and support us throughout our daily lives? With 7 billion on the planet, 5 billion of us have a mobile phone, and (in developed countries) many of them smartphones. And yet, when it comes to communication about our health, which is pivotal for pharma to support patients and physicians, mobile is failing. As the single most important factor in quality of life, the appetite for health content is there, right, so what’s going wrong?


Let’s look at some facts

In 2016, health app downloads reached 3.2 billion – a huge number by any standard. Yet all the more surprising when you consider apps developed by pharma only accounted for 0.2% of that total. Things go downhill from there: the top 5 most popular pharma apps accounted for more than 50% of downloads, meaning the other half simply failed to achieve any relevance with patients1. Further stats reinforce this perspective, with 85% of all health app downloads experiencing fewer than 5,000 installs2.


So, what’s going wrong?

Why are patient adoption and usage rates of pharma-developed apps stagnating?

One issue is trust. According to patient research, there is a fundamental lack of it when it comes to pharma-developed apps. When asked to elaborate, those same patients cited the lack of co-creation between themselves, doctors and carers. All factors contributing to the failure of health apps engaging in any meaningful way1.


How can we change and accelerate?

We know from our own Thousand Patient Survey3 that 90% of patients want a more active role in decisions about their health. And we know that patients who are more actively involved in their own care recover faster and live longer4. So, more mHealth seems inevitable, right?

But we need to acknowledge the advice being given: mHealth solutions informed by and co-designed with those that we seek to influence are more likely to address the issues, more likely to engage and, ultimately, more likely to be used by the people who need them most.


How can we help?

This is the role of business partners like Frontera-Group. Our core skill is that “We Speak Patient”. We support clients by helping immerse them into the world of the patient. For mHealth, that means helping them to build better communication strategies to ensure those strategies and activities yield better outcomes.

To find out how better mHealth strategies can help you and your business, why not give us a call.


Stuart Banks is Director of Stikke




1 Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions. Pharma and the connected patient. Available online at [accessed 5 Apr 2018].

2 IQVIA Institute. The Growing Value of Digital Health in the United Kingdom. Available online at [accessed 5 Apr 2018].

3 Thousand Patient Survey. Frontera Group–Health Unlocked, April 2018.

4 Hibbard J & Greene J (2013) Health Affairs. Available online at [accessed 16 Mar 2018].