App monetization is probably one of the most important things we can talk about when it comes to telemedicine app development. App owners look into different revenue streams to find their perfect model. But the tricky thing about choosing the right monetization strategy is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, especially in the healthcare niche. What works for others may not work for you.
No worries! We’ve prepared a guide that breaks down app monetization strategies by looking at some of the most popular names on the telemedicine market. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!
Top telemedicine app monetization models
How can you monetize your telemedicine app? Before we answer that question, let’s paint a general picture of app monetization models.
Broadly speaking, there are three app monetization models: free, freemium, and premium:
- Free apps are either purely ad supported or are directly connected to a larger brand, in which case the app is generally for promoting a service or product.
- Freemium apps are free to download but might include in-app purchases, ads, subscriptions, and/or donation requests.
- Premium apps need to be bought before installing them. This category includes paid apps, apps that require subscriptions, and hybrid paid apps with in-app purchases.
Now let’s dive deeper into these three approaches!
People love freebies. It’s no wonder users are more likely to download free apps than paid apps. But how do free apps make money? If you have a business that’s driven by your app (like eBay or Netflix), you don’t need to generate revenue directly from the app itself. But if your app is your business, you can still give it away for free and place ads inside it to make money. Every time a user sees an ad or clicks on an ad, you’ll get paid. In-app advertising is among the greatest and most beloved monetization strategies since it allows your app to remain free while you scale your user base and make money.
According to Statista, 92.7 percent of all iOS apps and 96.7 percent of all Android apps were available for free in January 2021. Only 7.3 percent of iOS apps and 3.3 percent of Android apps were paid. Though these numbers don’t directly represent the healthcare market, they’re a good indicator of app monetization trends when it comes to free versus paid apps.
Freemium is another great model for making money in telemedicine apps. This model creates two classes of users: free users and paid users. Free and paid users have access to different services, functionality, and/or content. Obviously, there are limitations for free users. What businesses are hoping is that these free users become paid users.
The freemium model is good because if something is free, people are more likely to try it than they would if it were paid. There are still people who wouldn’t assume the risk of trying a service for $1 a month. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s true.
The freemium model is typically realized through in-app purchases, which are grouped into:
- Consumable purchases. These are purchases of premium features, content, and other consumables that users can access for a limited time. Consumables usually have an expiration date and can be used only once but purchased again. Consumable purchases are common in games, when users may buy lives or gems to complete the game or make fast progress.
- Non-consumable purchases. Unlike consumables, non-consumables are premium content that you pay for once and can use forever.
- Subscriptions. If you listen to music, watch movies, or own a phone, you’ve probably had experience with a subscription monetization model. This is when you pay a set price at regular intervals for access to specific functionality, content, or even the product itself.
From a technical standpoint, subscriptions can be roughly divided into non-renewing and auto-renewing. Using the latter, businesses sell users access to regularly updated content, features, or services on a recurring basis. Users pay a monthly or yearly fee and can cancel the subscription whenever they like. Non-renewing subscriptions provide users with time-limited access to premium content and functionality. When the time runs out, this access ends. To renew it, users must resubscribe.
In the past few years, more and more businesses have been experimenting with subscription commerce and prefer this strategy. Therefore, let’s give the subscription business model extra attention.
What’s so special about the subscription model? Subscription-based pricing allows you to:
- Predict your monthly revenue
- Attract more users with a low barrier to entry
- Provide convenient service for everyone, as users feel less pressure than they would with a one-time payment and can spend a small amount and cancel the subscription whenever they like
While subscriptions can be a great approach, they aren’t that easy to implement. You should focus on the following things to develop your perfect subscription strategy.
#1 Set clear goals. You should clearly understand what you want to achieve through subscriptions. Timely goals can help you create buyer personas and pricing tiers.
#2 Offer onboarding & free trial. Everyone knows that first impressions are more than important. It’s crucial to craft a great user onboarding strategy. The formula for successful user acquisition is a great user experience combined with a great onboarding journey. We also suggest you provide users with a free trial so they understand the true value of your platform. As long as users see value in your app, they’ll continue paying for it.
#3 Develop strong relationships with users. Your focus should be on retaining existing users and fostering brand loyalty. If users aren’t happy, they’re likely to cancel their subscriptions. Listen to users and make sure you provide a personalized experience. This will keep users coming back to your app again and again.
#4 Give users choices. Having options satisfies users. Ideally, your platform should provide value to all users through different subscription plans.
#5 Updates, updates, and more updates. Give users a compelling reason to upgrade their subscription. And make sure they know the benefits of being a paid user.
#6 User analytics. Track your numbers. They’re key to understanding users and their behavior. App analytics is no longer nice to have — it’s a must for every business that wants to create a powerful user funnel and optimize app engagement.
Charging users to download your app is a convenient yet simple monetization model. You can create a merchant account in the App Store or Google Play Store and set your price. There’s just one big drawback with this strategy: it may limit your app’s monetization potential. You might achieve greater revenue using a mix of monetization types such as ads, subscriptions, and in-app purchases. Premium is the best way to go if you have a niche app with a narrow target audience.
How do top telemedicine apps make money in 2021?
When deciding on a monetization strategy, it’s important to look at how top mHealth apps make money. By doing so, you can compare the strengths and weaknesses of each model, develop your own strategy, and get inspired.
Teladoc is a great telemedicine app that allows patients to discuss non-urgent medical conditions with doctors anywhere, anytime, and from any device. Founded in 2002, Teladoc has quickly become a favorite in the doctor on demand market.
Teladoc uses a combination of two monetization models: visit fees and memberships. Visit fees vary depending on the type of visit and a user’s insurance plan, and can be as low as $0.
Doctor On Demand
Who hasn’t heard of Doctor On Demand? This telemedicine giant has been connecting patients with healthcare providers for digital as well as in-person visits since 2012.
What’s interesting about Doctor On Demand is that its revenue comes from both patients and medical institutions. Practices pay $1 for every employee using the service, while patients pay a consultation fee. For example, a 15-minute visit with a board certified provider costs $75. Therapy visits cost more and usually take longer. A psychology consultation takes either 25 or 50 minutes and costs $129 or $179 correspondingly. An initial psychiatry visit takes around 45 minutes and starts at $299. For a 15-minute follow-up visit, a patient pays $129.
If patients want to extend their visits, they can do so for an additional fee.
Amwell is a US-based telemedicine company that connects doctors with patients via secure video chats. The Amwell service offers scheduled and on-demand appointments 24/7. It operates across 240 health systems, partners with over 55 health plan carriers, and supports more than 36,000 employers.
As do many other telemedicine apps, Amwell charges a visit fee. Before insurance, patients pay $79 for emergency visits and $70 for nutrition counselling. Online therapy visits start at $99 and initial psychiatry visits start at $269 (follow-ups are $99 and up).
Amwell went public in September 2020. In October 2020, the company was valued at $6.5 billion, up 55% from the $18 IPO share price.
Want more examples?
Below, we analyze a couple of diet and nutrition apps so you can get a better picture of how different medical apps are monetized.
Lose It! is a calorie counter that helps users set, track, and reach weight loss goals. The company offers two subscription types: free and premium. A free subscription doesn’t give users all the bells and whistles, but it provides basics such as food and exercise tracking. To unlock a year of premium features, users have to pay $40. By going premium, users can access fitness tracker integrations, nutrition goals and insights, custom goals, a meal planning tool, custom challenges, private groups, email notes, and reports.
MyFitnessPal is another great example of a freemium health app. With MyFitnessPal, users can access features such as food, meal, activity, and weight tracking. But to be able to set custom daily nutrient and calorie goals, analyze food intake, track exercises, monitor nutrition goals through a home screen dashboard, get priority support, export progress and exercise histories and nutrition details, track macros, access content and coaching to achieve goals, and bookmark and log favorite recipes, users have to upgrade to MyFitnessPal Premium. In addition, Premium gives an ad-free experience. A Premium subscription costs $9.99 per month or $49.99 per year.
What’s your perfect monetization model?
No matter which monetization strategy you choose — free, freemium, premium, or a hybrid model — you should clearly define it before you launch your app. You should know the answers to the following questions:
- What problems does my app solve? How does it solve them?
- What’s my buyer persona? What does my buyer want from my app?
- Who are my competitors? How do they make money?
Already decided on your monetization strategy and ready to take the next step in developing your telemedicine app? Check out our expertise in telemedicine software development and message us to discuss your project needs. Meanwhile, make yourself comfortable and enjoy our portfolio of healthcare solutions we’ve crafted so far.