Business Today

An app a day keeps ill health away

Health apps, if used smartly, can bring about greater discipline and lifestyle modifications that can ensure better health and fitnesss.
E. Kumar Sharma | Print Edition: April 22, 2018
An app a day keeps ill health away
Illustration by Raj Verma

Health apps seem to have taken over our lives. Every smartphone comes with a health app or two, and doctors tell us they can be immensely beneficial if used as a smart diary and a timely reminder. So, pick any app that suits your needs. Even the one on your mobile is good enough as long as it can collect health data. Ideally, you should opt for features that measure your steps and give a speedometer count and track weekly and monthly trends. It can act as a great motivator, enabling you to match your health parameters with your target.

Many of these apps can help people suffering from chronic ailments - medical conditions such as diabetes or hypertension that will require lifelong medication and careful monitoring of blood pressure, body weight and pulse rate, and in some cases, even stress. Apps like CureFit, MyFitnessPal and HealthifyMe focus on ensuring your physical and mental fitness. Those keen on tracking food intake may try apps like My Diet Coach. The idea is to get a better calorie and carbohydrate fix. For diabetes, there is a wide range of apps to help one track glucose levels, daily activity (with a built-in pedometer), dietary intake, weight, insulin units and blood pressure, HbA1C and lipid levels. Dr Mohan's app also features video tutorials by experts. Plus, there are several apps for parents-to-be. Apps like My Pregnancy And Baby Today help you chat with would-be parents while Full Term comes with a contraction timer.

With so many health apps out there, you will most certainly find some useful ones for almost all medical conditions. In fact, they can play a key role, bringing in greater discipline and empowering people with lifestyle modifications that will ensure health and fitness. But should you let the apps rule your life? Here is a doctor's advice worth noting. "Use the apps but do not get paranoid. People suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (a mental condition) may give too much weight to app findings and if the outcome does not meet their goals, they can go into depression and may not be able to relax or sleep well." In such cases, it is best to carry on without these apps.


Thrive with Lower CAC, Higher LTV

Success in the health app market depends on five key components - adopting the right business model, distribution through mobile penetration, access through better bandwidth and quality connectivity, consumer's access to capital and scalable technology stack. According to Jay Krishnan, CEO of T-Hub that claims to be the countrys fastest-growing start-up engine with the largest incubator and corporate accelerator, some of these factors are now addressed by the government (India stack) and a large number of private and public players. But the basic economics, says Krishnan, remains the same.

A business must ensure that its customer acquisition cost (CAC) is lower than the lifetime value (LTV). A good rule of thumb is the ratio of 1:3. It is also one of the biggest challenges faced by the companies in the health apps space. So, how does one differentiate oneself? Get the product-market fit, time it right and grow the ability to stay on in the market long enough to gain traction and then scale up enough to turn profitable.


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