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Healthcare enterprise apps begin addressing disparate needs of industry’s diverse stakeholders

by Hannah Ehnle | September 05, 2018

Chilmark Research’s Healthcare App Stores: Status and Outlook report outlines the progress made, current challenges and future opportunities presented by emerging healthcare platform plays.


Boston, MA, September 5, 2018 — Digital healthcare, fueled by the industry’s growing supply of information sources, presents a significant opportunity to modernize the experience of care delivery for patients, clinicians, and organizations. Digital transformation in almost all industries, enabled by app store ecosystems, has upended old business models and created new markets. Well-executed app stores by Google and Apple have gained rapid acceptance and adoption among consumers and businesses alike. In the healthcare industry, still in its infancy in the adoption of digital tools, technology improvements hold out the prospect of developing an equally impactful application ecosystem.

Chilmark Research’s newest report, Healthcare App Stores: Status and Outlook 2018, surveys the current state of these app stores serving the healthcare industry. Right now, electronic health records (EHR) vendors sponsor the best known healthcare app stores on the strength of the volume, variety, and value of data their products collect. According to Brian Murphy, lead report author,

“EHR vendors are in the earliest stages of enabling these app stores, which are still more tightly controlled than development environments in the consumer space. While most users demand more value and functionality from EHRs, the industry has a plethora of other valuable data sources and holders beyond this solution category, presenting compelling opportunities for innovative players outside the big EHRs to fundamentally improve workflows and efficacy for all stakeholders.”

Indeed, other organizations such as providers, transaction intermediaries, medical device manufacturers, or payers sit on enough high-value data and have enough brand recognition to jump in the ring, exemplified by the recent launch of Blue Button 2.0 from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS).

For now though, it is either feast or famine in the world of third-party healthcare apps for users. Apps for healthcare consumers (i.e. patients), are both overly-bountiful and underutilized. Apps for healthcare’s clinicians and other workers are far less numerous, despite strong demand. Modern application programming interfaces (API) that the bulk of professional developers use to build downloadable apps are only now gaining acceptance in healthcare. As these API programs expand in scope and acceptance, healthcare app stores will gain interest and amass larger catalogs. The research conducted for this report provides evidence that the number of developers, the number of companies involved, and the number and variety of available apps will increase over time.

Healthcare stakeholders will need to think differently about how applications further clinical, financial, and administrative goals in order to capitalize on the app store opportunity. Whether the goal is revenue growth, operational cost reduction, regulatory adherence, better patient or member experience and retention, higher quality, or lower medical and pharmaceutical costs, app stores will soon catalyze more innovation.

This report includes an analysis of app store technology as well as broader market context for healthcare app stores, including opportunities and challenges for development and adoption. It also an overview of the different types of app store platforms and 7 profiles of EHR-hosted app stores, the best-known type.

Developers interested in creating apps for these platforms and organizations considering launching their own platforms or apps will benefit from the report’s explanations and evaluations of the different app store platforms. Additionally, leaders of provider and payer organizations will also appreciate the report’s analysis of the technology and market context as they consider encouraging widespread app use and access to their data for patients and workers. Finally, regulators and patient privacy advocates will find this report valuable for understanding who controls these new methods for accessing and using patient data.

The report is available to subscribers of the Chilmark Advisory Service or may be purchased separately. For more information, visit www.chilmarkresearch.com/reports. Direct inquiries for purchase should be addressed to Brad Sjosten at brad@chilmarkresearch.com.

Vendors Profiled: Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, Epic, Meditech, NextGen Healthcare

About Chilmark Research:

Chilmark Research is the only industry analyst firm focusing solely on the most transformational trends in healthcare IT. We combine proven research methodologies with intelligence and insight to provide cogent analyses of the emerging technologies that have the greatest potential to improve healthcare. We do not shy away from making tough calls and are respected in the industry for our direct and thoughtful commentary. For more information visit: www.chilmarkresearch.com/

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