The global urgent care apps market size was valued at USD 1,553.54 million in 2022. It is estimated to reach USD 12,726.23 million by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 26.32% during the forecast period (2023–2031).
The application of smart technology has become a progressively regular practice in day-to-day life, specifically in medical treatment. Advanced smart technology is widely used in healthcare for monitoring patients, consultations by specialists or doctors, tracing their health conditions, and obtaining recommendations associated with healthcare medication. Urgent care apps are mobile health (mHealth) applications that can be remotely accessed via platforms such as a smartphone or tablet, specifically designed to cater to the urgent medical needs of the user.
Urgent care apps are intended to serve patients seeking urgent care by connecting them to a relevant specialist and facilitating further courses of action such as diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring. Treatment can be offered remotely via text/audio/video calls, or help can be arranged to usher the patient to the nearest hospital. In addition, the apps offer various services, such as streamlining communication among care teams and patients, improving medication adherence, tracking symptoms, offering teleconsultations, and assisting rehabilitation patients. As they are readily accessible, convenient, cost-effective, time-efficient, and dependable, urgent care apps are gaining immense popularity worldwide to provide real-time consultations to patients with medical conditions and reduce waiting times.
Conventionally, patients seeking urgent care route all cases through hospitals' emergency departments (ED), many of which do not require any operation/procedure. Access to urgent care from home helps relieve the burden on patients and physicians at the ED, thus improving patient care. The demand for in-home virtual care further increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. This can be attributed to government-imposed lockdowns and public concern to limit exposure.
In June 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observed a substantial decrease in ED visits across the United States, according to a report titled "Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Emergency Department Visits — United States, 1 January 2019-30 May 2020." Mobile apps' capabilities to connect patients with physicians and receive diagnosis and treatment virtually drive market growth. Patients can schedule appointments, receive e-prescriptions, and share medical data such as lab reports and waveforms through the platform, fueling market growth.
Access to urgent care from home helps save time and costs associated with visits to the ED. Mobile applications are accessible through a smartphone or tablet platform, providing an easy and user-friendly way to connect with healthcare professionals virtually. Mobile apps can assist patients with consultations, medication adherence, tracking symptoms, and scheduling appointments. In addition, mobile apps can help healthcare providers communicate and collaborate with patients and among care teams, communicate with emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, and triaging cases.
Additionally, using mobile health apps is anticipated to reduce hospital costs. This is attributed to decreased hospital visits, virtual at-home patient care, increased prescription adherence, and remote patient monitoring. Therefore, the escalating demand for cost-effective and user-friendly technology propels the global urgent care app market growth over the forecast period.
Lack of technical education and concerns relating to data security are the major factors hindering mobile internet adoption in developing nations. Even though there is a growing focus on making mobile data affordable, emerging economies still face the challenge of access to affordable mobile internet. Even in regions covered by a network service provider, the usage coverage is not proportional. Additionally, in regions with lower bandwidth, issues such as poor network quality and speeds hinder the adoption of mobile internet, thus restricting the market growth.
Additionally, the coverage gap and usage of apps are prevalent in emerging economies such as Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and Asia-Pacific. The coverage gap refers to individuals who do not have access to mobile broadband, whereas the use gap refers to those who have access to mobile internet but do not use it. The percentage of the population contributing to coverage and usage gap accounts for 57%, 46%, and 52% in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Latin America, and Asia-Pacific, respectively.
The field of cellular communication is always undergoing new developments. In December 2009, the first commercial deployment of 4G technology occurred. A decade later, the latest in communication technology, 5G, was launched in April 2019 and is anticipated to grow dramatically and establish its presence worldwide. According to a report published by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) in 2021, 5.2 billion users, representing 67% of the global population, were connected to the mobile internet worldwide as of December 2020. Leading regions such as the U.S., China, and South Korea reported a peaking and subsequent decline in 4G technology, whereas, in other countries, 4G technology continues to grow. Also, 5G was launched in Latin America and Africa in 2020. Therefore, rising technological advancements and evolving cellular communications hold immense growth opportunities for the global urgent care apps market.
The global urgent care apps market is segmented by type and indication.
Based on type, the global urgent care apps market is bifurcated into post-hospital apps, in-hospital communication and collaboration apps, and pre-hospital emergency care and triaging apps.
The post-hospital apps segment dominates the global market share and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 23.94% over the forecast period. Post-hospital apps extend patient care beyond the hospital. Such apps play roles such as improving medication adherence, enhancing communication and collaboration between patients and healthcare providers, and supporting the rehabilitation of recovering patients. Post-hospital apps have been further segmented into medication adherence, rehabilitation, and care provider communication and collaboration apps. Medication adherence apps help patients adhere to their treatment plans, thus improving quality of life and patient care beyond the hospital. Further, factors driving the growth of medication adherence apps include increasing costs borne by the healthcare system due to non-adherence, the rising burden on healthcare infrastructure due to increased hospitalizations, and the significant mortality rate of patients due to non-adherence.
Furthermore, rehabilitation apps assist patients recovering from a stroke, trauma, cardiac, or other conditions. Factors driving the growth of rehabilitation apps include increasing demand for post-hospital care, impairment of cognitive and other functions post-treatment, and prolonged recovery period. Care provider communication and collaboration apps category of post-hospital apps serves to improve communication channels between the patient and healthcare providers such as doctors and nurses.
Triage involves screening patients remotely to determine the patient's condition and the care needed. Triage applications are developed to support the pre-hospital process and to categorize a patient's condition before admission to the emergency department. Companies offering pre-hospital emergency care apps include Twiage LLC, Allm Inc., General Devices, Zoll Medical Corporation (Asahi Kasei Group), and Doximity, Inc. Pre-hospital emergency care and triaging apps enable improved communication channels between the EMS and the hospital, thus allowing the clinical staff to be better prepared before the patient arrives. These apps enable the EMS crew and hospital staff to securely exchange patient data, such as medical records and lab reports. It allows the hospital to track patients' arrival in real-time, whereas it enables the EMS crew personnel to find the fastest route possible to the hospital. These apps help reduce response times and improve patient outcomes.
Based on indication, the global urgent care apps market is segmented into the stroke, trauma, cardiac conditions, and others.
The trauma segment owns the largest market share and is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 25.77% during the forecast period. Road accidents are one of the prominent causes of trauma. With the rising incidences of road accidents, the prevalence of trauma in the global population is also increasing. In a global status report on road safety report issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in December 2018, road accidents account for the deaths of around 1.35 million people globally. A vast majority of these road accidents occur in low and middle-income regions. In addition, trauma recovery services, created by the business Survivor Recovery Services, and Pulsara, created by the business Pulsara, are two of the most popular urgent care apps used for trauma. The trauma recovery services app offers educational material to patients suffering from trauma. In contrast, Pulsara enables EMS providers to assign the trauma level allowing clinical staff to mobilize care teams accordingly.
Stroke affects people across the globe and is also one of the primary causes of death. According to a report published in January 2020, titled, 'Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2020 Update: A Report from the American Heart Association', ischemic strokes account for a vast majority (87%) of the strokes occurring in the U.S. population. Pulsara offers a mobile app that simplifies the admission process of a stroke patient, thus enabling the hospital's EMS crew and clinical staff to function more efficiently. In addition, the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team creates a patient channel with medical data and a pre-hospital stroke score based on vitals. The EMS can send an alert and share patient data, such as pictures and videos, to allow the patient to be registered before arriving at the hospital. The hospital can customize the care team who will receive the alert and thus activate the stroke team without delay. Further, the app enables the hospitals to connect with the EMS via video call to determine how much of the stroke team requires activation, thus ensuring better allocation of resources.
North America Dominates the Global Market
Based on region, the global urgent care apps market is bifurcated into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East and Africa.
North America is the most significant global urgent care apps market shareholder and is anticipated to exhibit a CAGR of 24.05% during the forecast period. The key drivers for the market include the increasing need for urgent and convenient access to care, widespread adoption of smartphones, growing focus on patient-centered healthcare, and increasing importance of personalized patient care. According to a Global System for Mobile Communications (GMSA) report in 2021, titled 'The Mobile Economy 2021', smartphone adoption in 2020 is the highest in North America at 82%. It is anticipated to reach 85% by the end of 2025. North America has several established and emerging urgent care app market players, driving growth. In addition, leading market players include Medisafe Limited, Trial Card Incorporated, Wellth, Inc., Vocera Communications, Twiage LLC, and TigerConnect, Inc. These companies offer mobile apps covering a range of functions such as communication and collaboration, medication adherence, and consultations. Further, emerging companies in the region include Well Health, Inc., Amwell, and Wellth, Inc.
Europe is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 22.79% over the forecast period. The factors driving the growth of the European urgent care apps market include the evolving regulatory landscape to promote telemedicine and digital healthcare and strengthen policies to ensure data privacy. Regulatory fragmentation is one of the major barriers to the interoperability of telemedicine across European countries. The European Commission (EC) has taken steps to address this restriction, such as adopting the Digital Single Market Plan and the eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020. Under the eHealth Action Plan, the EC encouraged the expansion of technology incubators to assist eHealth startups through legal advice and training. Following the implementation the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018, several mobile health apps modified their privacy policies to ensure compliance with GDPR. The act mandates mobile apps to receive patient consent for patient data collection. Such factors drive regional market growth.
The Asia-Pacific region has various established and emerging mHealth companies spanning the digital healthcare landscape. For instance, Allm, Inc. is a key player in Japan, whereas Chunyu Yisheng is a key player in China. Countries like South Korea and China are already witnessing the growth of 5G. Meanwhile, other emerging economies of Asia-Pacific reported steady growth of 4G, with 5G still in its nascent stage. Emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific region struggle with issues like lack of knowledge, unfamiliarity with technology, connectivity issues, and governmental rules in nations that support mobile health. Due to the epidemic, South Korea, where telemedicine is prohibited, also temporarily permitted its usage, which boosted the business.
In Latin America, the key factors propelling the development include increasing demand for urgent and convenient access to care and escalating demand for personalized and patient-centric care. Further, the rising adoption of smartphones and the ongoing technology integration positively impact the market's growth.
In the Middle East and Africa, the main market drivers are increasing demand for urgent and convenient access to care, widespread adoption of smartphones, a growing emphasis on patient-centered healthcare, and the growing importance of personalized patient care. Further, emerging mHealth startups in the Middle East and Africa are witnessing interest in funding investment from venture capital companies. For instance, Vula Mobile's funding round in April 2018 brought the total funding amount to USD 0.17 million. Similarly, Vezeeta.com secured USD 40 million in its latest funding round in February 2020. Such funding investments in emerging mHelath startups drive market growth.
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