Table 4

Categorisation of first and third parties (n=37) performing data analytics

Main activity of partiesNo (%)Description*ExamplesExample domain names†
First parties:
 Freelance app development3 (8)Design, develop, and maintain apps for third party clients to specification; services might include app usage analytics, ad campaign setup, and reporting; app store optimisation or customer supportAtmosphere Apps (USBMIS);;
 Clinical decision support7 (19)Ranging from not-for-profit companies to corporations, these companies provide evidence based drug information and clinical decision supports on digital platforms, including websites and apps; some are available through individual or institutional subscriptions; those that are free to users generate revenue through hosted advertising and sponsored contentEpocrates (AthenaHealth); Medscape (WebMD); UpToDate; Lexi-Comp; MIMS Australia;;;;;;
 Consumer health management6 (16)Consumer-facing apps that support drug adherence, health management, and care coordination; free for consumers, these companies generate revenue from pharmaceutical companies, health insurers, or health services by licensing the app (on a per member basis), sponsorship, or selling data commoditiesAda Health; MedAdvisor; Talking Medicines; MyMeds; Montuno Software; Precedence Health;;;;;
Third parties:
 Analytics5 (14)Freemium services; in exchange, companies retain the right to collect, aggregate, and commercialise deidentified end user data; companies provide services to app developers, including error and bug reporting, and analysis of user numbers, characteristics, and behaviours; some also offer the ability to understand users’ behaviours across devices and platforms and integrate with advertising data to target marketing activitiesCrashlytics; Sentry; Google Analytics; Flurry;;;
 User engagement6 (16)Freemium services; in exchange, companies retain the right to collect, aggregate, and commercialise de-identified end user data; these software integrations allow developers to analyse how users navigate an app, features users find most engaging and provide push notifications to increase user engagementOne Signal; Apptimize; Urban Airship; Braze; Mixpanel;;;;;
 Advertising7 (19)Includes services that provide advertisement attribution to tie each user to the ads they interact with; buying and selling of ad space; ad serving and ad management; and analytics that enable ad targeting and personalisationAudience Network by Facebook; AdMob by Google; TUNE; Adjust; 24/7 Real Media; JanRain;;;;;
 Social media1 (3)Integration with social media platforms, allowing apps to share users’ data with social media or to import social media data into the app; this could include a Facebook login, status updates related to the app, sharing content via social media, or finding a list of contacts who have also installed the app; this integration also allows for cross-platform advertisingFacebook Graph
 Customer support1 (3)Paid services based on level of use; a software product that allows for tracking, prioritising, and solving user support issues including live chat and messaging and AI-powered help toolsZendesk 
 Government1 (3)Several application programming interfaces are available through the National Library of Medicine related to public drug information sourcesNational Library of
  • * Description based on content analysis of entities’ websites and linked documents such as privacy policies, terms and conditions, and investor prospectuses.

  • When there was no corresponding domain name, the developers self reported data sharing with the third party in the app’s privacy policy.