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How has COVID-19 changed the importance of Health Apps? 


This article will summarise the effects COVID-19 had on the Health Apps industry. It aims to provide an in-depth analysis of how health app usage increased by 46% globally due to COVID-19; the countries which witnessed most significant increase in usage, including India which witnessed a 157% increase; the long-term effects the changes will have on health apps in the future; and it will provide your brand with an understanding of how e-Pharmacy can help benefit your health app. 

How has our health app usage changed? 

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused much of our daily life to change. Varying restrictions, lockdowns and isolation are some of the ways our lives have been affected by COVID. One of the most significant changes witnessed during COVID-19 was a significant increase in health app downloads, both within the UK and globally. During the first half of 2020, downloads of health and fitness apps grew by 46% worldwide, with some regions seeing larger download growths than others: 


Appendix 1 shows figures for the largest download growth of health & fitness apps during the first half of 2020. India had the highest increase in downloads, with 157% download growth, which equates to 58 million people. This is potentially linked to India’s lockdown from March 25 to May 2020 – the world’s longest lockdown – with 1.3 billion being instructed to stay inside [1]. 

Which health apps saw the biggest increase? 

Although the health app industry saw a major increase in downloads during COVID overall, certain health apps saw significant downloads as compared to others. The top-grossing health & fitness apps in Q2 2020 were Calm in April and May, and Underarmour’s MyFitnessPal in June. Calm is n app for meditation, sleep and mindfulness implying users focused more on their mental well-being and health during these months, whereas MyFitnessPal focuses on diet and exercise. 

In terms of health sectors, the mental health app sector saw a 200% increase in downloads from summer 2019 to summer 2020. Focusing on mental health app searches, searches for depression rose by 156%, OCF rose by 422% and stress rose by 113% during this period, where relaxation apps rose by 437% and mindfulness rose by 2483% [2]. 

Why is there an increase in Health App downloads? 

Many reasons have caused the significant increase in health app searches and downloads. Global consumer studies have shown similar results for the increase in health app downloads [3]. The reasons included in the increase include: 

Is the rise in Health App usage here to stay? 

One of the main reasons health app usage soared within 2020 was due to lockdowns causing gyms and fitness studios to close for months. In turn, this caused a 67% increase in health & fitness app download, including apps such as Adjust, Calm and MyFitnessPal. However, with restrictions having eased, and gyms and fitness studios now open back to their normal working hours, questions have arisen as to whether this will continue in the long-term. 

A research study on health app usage and downloads in 2021, implies although health app downloads have slowed, usage remains high despite gyms opening. This implies apps have retained a large percentage of their customer base, with 57% growth in app exercise sessions in January 2021, although installs have decreased by 21% [4]. 

What treatments can e-Pharmacy offer to health apps 

We acknowledge different health app users have different needs. e-Pharmacy can offer different sectors specialised B2B support based on the industry they serve. We can offer a variety of services including: 

How can e-Pharmacy benefit health app industries 

With more 350,000 digital health apps currently available to customers, and more than 90,000 health apps being released last year, there is a large degree of competition between apps. It is important to acknowledge that even though there are more apps, there is a large difference between their successfulness – 83% have been installed less than 5,000 times. The main reason for this appears to be a lack of customer privacy and data protection, with more than 88% of mobile health apps having the ability to potentially collect and share consumer data [5]. As e-Pharmacy is a UK registered pharmacy, we are regulated by the GPhC, so we can offer a data secure network, where we promise no patient data will be sold or shared with partners, increasing consumer confidence.  


[1] Fitness app downloads grew by 46% worldwide in COVID-19 | https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/fitness-apps-gym-health-downloads/ | World Economic Forum 

[2] Report shows rise in search for digital mental health apps | https://www.med-technews.com/news/Digital-in-Healthcare-News/report-shows-rise-in-search-for-digital-mental-health-apps/ | MED-TECH 

[3] Growing Prevalence of Healthcare Mobile Apps in the UK | https://www.redbytes.co.uk/mobile-health-app-usage-statistics/ | redbytes 

[4] Health & fitness apps continue to trend upwards in 2021 | https://www.adjust.com/blog/health-fitness-apps-trend-upwards-in-2021/ | Adjust 

[5] Over 350K digital health apps are flooding the market – here’s how apps can stand out | https://www.emarketer.com/content/over-350k-digital-health-apps-flooding-market-here-s-how-apps-stand | eMarketer