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Digitalisation is transforming the health sector

The health sector has been undergoing numerous changes due to digitisation for several years, with Asian countries being more advanced in this area. However, the market for digital health services is now growing in Europe as well.

According to data from Statista Health Market Outlook, global business-to-consumer (B2C) sales in the eHealth segment are projected to increase by approximately 61% to around 78 billion euros between 2021 and 2025. The report highlights that the sales of eHealth apps and online doctor's consultations will experience significant growth during this period.

eHealth apps refer to various applications that assist in monitoring, determining, and analyzing an individual's physical health. Examples include contraception and fertility apps, which provide users with guidance on self-medication, family planning, contraception, and monitoring functions. Medication check apps offer dosage guidelines, information on drug interactions, and the ability to document medications taken.

It is worth noting that the sales figures mentioned in the data only consider sales generated by paid apps with premium options and in-app purchases. Sales from app downloads and advertising are not included in these figures.

A market worth billions

GESUNDHEIT Milliardenmarkt eHealth EN

Online doctor consultations make up one of the largest shares of the telemedicine industry. This segment focuses exclusively on remote consultations between patients and doctors conducted through online channels - websites or mobile apps. Consultation hours can be organised by both public and private medical institutions. Online appointments, online medical records and online prescriptions are not included. The user figures cover both users who have used online medical consultations within the last twelve months and potential users who are considering using such a service in the future.

The "online pharmacy" segment includes over the counter medicines that can be purchased online without a doctor's prescription. eHealth devices include biosensors that collect information on a variety of health parameters and vital signs by measuring a person's body values (blood pressure, temperature, blood glucose, weight) and transmitting this data via electrical signals.

Health app usage is more popular in Asian countries

Smartphone users in Asia are more likely to trust eHealth than Europeans. In China and India, the share of health app users is over 60 percent each, whereas in European countries only 20 to 40 percent of respondents say they use them. According to the Statista Global Consumer Survey, around 35 percent of respondents in Germany and Switzerland have used an app to promote or measure their health values.

The willingness to pay for such apps is also significantly lower in the Western world than in Asia. While in China around 45 percent invest in the form of one-time payments, subscriptions or in-app purchases, in most European countries it is less than 15 percent. In Austria in particular, the proportion of those paying for digital health is low - only about five percent of respondents confirmed that they had spent money on apps.


By now, many Germans are also aware that health apps such as Doctolib, Medisafe or nora make it easier to find a doctor's appointment and help patients keep track of their medication, or allow users to trigger emergency calls at the touch of a button.

There are numerous free apps, and almost 40 apps can even be prescribed. The pharmacy magazine "Senioren Ratgeber" explains what to look out for in digital health apps - DiGA for short.

Important: comprehensible data protection declarations

When you download a new health app, you should find out from whom it comes. Some companies charge money for the use of the app or pursue other economic interests. The information in the app may then be influenced by these interests. You can also recognise good apps by the fact that they state what they cannot do. In addition, pay attention to comprehensible data protection declarations. Does the app pass on your data to third parties? If yes, to whom? And if no: How does it protect your data from access by third parties?

Discuss app use with your family doctor

If a doctor prescribes a DiGA, you will receive a conventional pink prescription against which you can get a code to download the app from the health insurance company. Tip: Before downloading a health app for which you have to pay, ask your health insurance fund whether they reimburse similar applications. You should also discuss the use of the app with your family doctor if you are unsure how serious the offer is.

You can find a selection of health apps in the current issue of "Senioren Ratgeber". All the applications presented there are free of charge, do not neglect data protection and work on different operating systems. By the way: A test of the seriousness of health apps is offered by the Aktionsbündnis Patientensicherheit at

GESUNDHEIT AdobeStock 341900343© Syda Productions, AdobeStock

It's better not to rely on Google for medical advice.

Asking the global search engine for advice on symptoms of illness can damage mental health. Just five minutes of searching on Google for individual symptoms of illness has a negative effect on the psyche and general well-being. Researchers at the University of Cologne came to this conclusion. Read more about the results and the advice of experts in this journal article.

This article is from the 2/2023 issue of the magazine "Life Abroad".

The magazine is published four times a year free of charge with many informative articles on foreign topics.

It is published by the BDAE, the expert for protection abroad.