The question of whether or not smartphone apps can play an important role in the delivery of healthcare services has been more or less answered with a resounding yes. From weight loss to diabetes monitoring to diagnosing ear infections, successful digital health models and pilot programs have provided compelling proof of concept that there is potential to improve users’ well being and health through the use of these apps.
The remaining questions are: who will pay for these apps, and how will the developers make money? For now, the partial answer is that individual patients and consumers are the buyers of these mobile health apps. In today’s healthcare market, consumers do not typically pay directly for products or services; nor do they usually pay for 100% of the actual cost. Those expenses are borne by payers, a combination of private insurance providers, public insurers (e.g., Medicare and Medicaid), and employers who either pay a significant portion of the cost of private healthcare insurance for their employees or are self-insured.