Wellness Apps and the 'Healthy' Opportunities They Offer Entrepreneurs
The self-care industry is booming. From employer-provided yoga classes to online fitness regimes, physical and mental well-being has become a primary focus for many Americans. And the business world has taken note: According to Fast Company, wellness is now a $4.2 trillion global industry. And technology plays a big part: In our technology-centered world, health and wellness apps are part of this industry growth.
People use these apps to deal with stress or depression, lose weight and improve overall health. Even entrepreneurs use these apps to meditate and to support mental clarity.
Market Research Report, which valued the U.S. wellness app market at over $4 billion in 2016, predicts this market will have a 44 percent annual growth rate through 2025. By 2020, it anticipates, there will be over six billion smartphone subscriptions for wellness apps alone.
This growing market translates into great opportunities for entrepreneurs. For them now, success lies in finding unique ways to address consumer demand or serve underserved niches.
Focused service and information
The challenge with many mindfulness or wellness apps is that these programs are complicated or require a significant time commitment to achieve true benefits. Where some entrepreneurs are finding success is in narrowing the focus of their apps and providing direction for specific meditative or mental health activities rather than delivering a complex program.
One example of an activity-specific app is Formula.life, which teaches breathing techniques to address mindfulness, improve sleep and reduce stress. For entrepreneurs, this model of taking one simple yet effective wellness technique and creating an app to teach and reinforce it can offer great opportunities.
Make a personal connection
Ironically, the more connected we become through technology, the less time we actually spend face to face with other people. In fact, the heavy use of social media is directly linked to mental illness. Complaints of loneliness have become more commonplace and there is a demand to address this issue through apps.
Already, the company Mappen is addressing this issue for the teen market. Its app encourages this population to spend more time with their friends by using a map that shows where those friends are and what they are doing. This was just one good idea but there are other opportunities for socialization apps, which go beyond dating. For example, a big segment of the underserved and lonely population is made up of senior citizens.
While they might not have a smartphone, their adult children do and would probably love to find a way to keep their parents connected to others.
Fight the war on drugs.
Substance abuse takes a terrible toll on the addicted person as well as his or her family, community and even the overall economy. It drains healthcare resources and ruins lives.
Many people suffering addiction fear to reach out for help or can’t afford the treatment they need, making apps a cost-effective and private way to receive services. Currently, PearConect, from Pear Therapeutics, offers the first FDA-cleared "Prescription Digital Therapeutic (PDT)" treatment for patients with Opioid Use Disorder. The app focuses on behavioral modification and medication-assisted treatment.
While there are other substance abuse treatment apps, no other has achieved this certification or the high regard that comes with it. For entrepreneurs with an interest in addressing this niche, the demand is high for effective apps that serve both the person suffering from addiction and his or her families and friends.
Connect with professional help.
Nearly half of sick people in America do not have healthcare coverage; one reason is they can't afford to purchase it. For these people, getting basic care is difficult, and working with a mental health professional is nearly impossible.
The problem is compounded for those living in rural and other medically underserved areas. Apps such as Talkspace are helping to fill this void, but more are needed. Talkspace gives people access to licensed therapists for a low monthly rate and has specialists on hand to address the specific needs of teens, vets, the LGBT community and more.
Apps that connect people to serve therapeutic and medical needs will grow in number, especially as technology changes the possibilities to expand. Opportunities are nearly unlimited and offer amazing business potential.
Access to alternative services
In 2016, Americans spent over $30 billion on complementary and alternative health services according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
These services included herbal supplements, hypnosis, yoga, chiropractic care and acupuncture, and demand continues to grow. While apps for alternative healthcare do exist, they are not yet well rated or used. Most of them provide only basic information but no real service or ongoing care, which presents significant opportunities for entrepreneurs.
For example, an herbal remedy app that connects a person with an herbalist who can identify the best tinctures or salves to address specific symptoms delivers greater value than an app that only matches general conditions with potential treatments. This same comparison is true for acupressure, hypnosis and a variety of other alternative-care options.
The use of apps to deliver health and wellness services is just coming into its own. In addition to meditation and mindfulness apps, there is great potential for entrepreneurs who make themselves the leaders in underserved niches or simply create a better app. Are you one of them?