The COVID-19 pandemic showed us how efficient mobile healthcare apps can be. So now we are witnessing how this trend is growing further. Various healthcare institutions and providers are investing in mobile app development to enhance medical services and promote awareness among their patients. Namely, according to Statista, the number of medical apps downloaded during the COVID-19 pandemic increased on average by 65% worldwide.
Thanks to the convenience provided by mHealth apps, patients can use them to schedule their appointments, review prescriptions, or contact doctors via chat or a video call. These three key features make mHealth apps so popular among patients — especially now when health-consciousness is turning into a lifestyle.
Based on the recent data provided by Statista, Google Play hosts over 47k different healthcare apps. This number grows by 1,5% per quarter, which proves the increasing interest in mobile health. As we can see, the power and accessibility of mHealth apps correlate perfectly with modern people’s health goals.
More so, mHealth apps are useful for patients and for different categories of healthcare providers, including emergency care, healthy lifestyle and fitness, general hospital appointments, clinical and diagnostic assistants, and medication tracking.
Benefits of Using Mobile Technology in Healthcare
Before you decide whether you need to have your own mobile app to meet patients’ expectations, take a look at the benefits that mHealth apps provide for every party involved in healthcare activities.
Easier Data Collection
Proper diagnosis requires a lot of information about patients, and preferably in a well-organized way. Apps forms and structured data gathering allow medics to pull out the needed data from the cloud and diagnose patients depending on their records.
At first glance, it seems like this one is beneficial only for healthcare providers, who can collect and manage patients’ data easily using the apps. Yet, in the long run, patients benefit from collecting this data too: some apps, using that data, can provide prescription advice and reminders, reducing excessive testing, and additional costs for patients.
Patients Have More Control Over Their Health
Wearables taught people self-monitoring — heart rate, sleep cycles, blood pressure, sugar level weight, gained and spent calories, steps, etc. It gave them a chance to monitor their health, to stay active and achieve better results.
Apps help users to stay committed to their decision of staying healthy and thus, to prevent diseases and react immediately when some parameters are going abnormal.
New Business Opportunities and Brand Value
Techniques used in mHealth can also add a new value to existing products that are outdated, e.g. combining pharmaceutical treatments with reminders as an alternative to funding more expensive new treatments. Such an approach benefits pharmaceutical companies as well since it extends the product’s lifespan and ensures that medication is being used for the maximum benefit.
Brand value enhancement is another benefit healthcare institutions can gain by using mobile apps tailored to their requirements. How so? It will allow them to target more and more patients, offering them healthcare services. An app can contain useful information, such as physicians’ contact details, email, and other data that can be accessed instantly.
Fewer Risks of Medical Errors
Healthcare mobile apps use sensors to track and monitor various health parameters accurately. Developers also enhanced some healthcare apps with intelligent diagnostic abilities. The patients’ reports and prescription notes can be easily saved using cloud facilities.
This can significantly lower the risk of a wrong diagnosis that can happen because of a poor deduction, missed or mixed records, or else. Thus, patients will suffer less from medical errors.
Real-Time Communication Between Doctors and Patients
Long boring queues days may be over for good with the wide adoption of mobile healthcare apps. Patients can not only book appointments but also get prescriptions, order medicines online, and even communicate with a doctor via chat, if needed. Besides, a video chat would cost a lot less than the actual visit to a doctor.
Residents in rural areas can also benefit from mobile healthcare apps since such areas sometimes do not have doctors at all, let alone a medical facility. Yet, they have a connection to the Internet, and with mHealth apps, they can have access to healthcare professionals without having to travel.
Cost Reduction of Healthcare Services
By using a mHealth app, the cost of healthcare services can be reduced both for a patient and a hospital. By tracking symptoms and calling a doctor via a video call, a patient avoids spending money and time on a trip to a clinic, and a clinic saves the budget linked to treating that patient.
To put it in numbers, a regular doctor visit in the US costs around $100–200 for an initial consultation, while most of the telemedicine apps offer subscription plans that can cost around $100 per year for 24/7 virtual healthcare services from trusted doctors.
More so, because mHealth apps can automate most of the paperwork and other redundant tasks, thus saving money for hospitals, they can offer various discounts, coupons of referrals through their app. So patients can save even more money.
Easier and Secure Payments
Apart from all the advantages regarding health, mobile apps for healthcare can also optimize payment systems for all parties of the process: healthcare providers, doctors, and patients. Usage of integrated payment gateways and digital wallets is safe, simple, and hassle-free.
Medical Economics suggests that a vast variety of payment options offered to patients increases the chances that bills will get paid. Even more so, patients demand more options, so meeting them halfway may help to increase their experience and loyalty.
Now that we understand what benefits mHealth apps provide to patients, let’s discover what categories of healthcare providers would benefit from mobile app dev the most and provide a few examples of existing apps that are already doing the job.
Are There Benefits to Reap from mHeath Apps for Healthcare Providers?
Mobile devices and apps are helping users to make rapid decisions with a lower error rate, increasing the quality of data management and accessibility, and improving practice efficiency and knowledge. Similarly, mobile apps and mHealth apps make healthcare services more efficient by showing a positive effect on patient care outcomes.
Purposes that mobile apps are covering for healthcare providers can be grouped into seven categories: management, health record maintenance, communication, data gathering, clinical decision-making, patient monitoring, and medical training. Now it is time for some real-life examples.
This category is most popular among healthcare providers since it is convenient to manage time and data using a smartphone. Besides, it is not even about the mHealth apps, Evernote is successfully used by healthcare providers to make notes, record audio, store photographs, and organize material into categories within a searchable electronic database.
With time management, it is even simpler since to manage their time, healthcare providers can use pre-installed native apps that are available on most smartphones.
Health Record Maintenance
Maintenance of patients’ electronic health records (EHR) is often included as a feature of hospitals’ customer relationship management (CRM) software. Such a feature or a standalone app dedicated to EHR maintenance provides healthcare providers with secure access to patient data, e.g. medical history, vitals, prescriptions, lab results, x-rays, scans, consultations, and discharge notes.
- Kareo is an example of an EHR maintenance mobile app for iOS. The app offers a simplified interface that aims to provide an easier navigation experience. Functionally, the app allows practice staff to manage schedules, send secure messages, chart, prescribe, request, and view labs. Kareo is compatible with Apple Watch.
- Epic is a cloud-based EHR solution catering to several specialties, meaning that the app offers the standard range of ‘core’ EHR features, and a variety of modules to add depending on specialty. Basically, the Epic app transforms mobile devices into efficient portable workstations.
According to the article by Healthcare IT News, 54% of surveyed patients say that doctors using mobile apps are faster and offer better communication. The most curious thing about this is that the most popular apps for healthcare communication are WhatsApp and Viber, based on NCBI’s data.
- MyChart is essentially an app for patients that allows them to manage their healthcare needs, yet lots of clinics and hospitals use it too. The app allows patients to pay their medical bills, confirm appointments, and upload various test results. MyChart also helps the patients to message the care providers directly.
- CareAware is a medical help kind of app that is perfect for maintaining communication in hospitals and clinics and managing the entire workflow. It establishes better coordination to deliver care since every healthcare expert can easily collaborate and communicate through this app.
Now, when the world uses Google (or other search engines) for every question there is, mobile devices have become vital tools for healthcare providers as well to search for and access medical literature, researches, and news. There are even apps created by medical journals that allow articles to be viewed on mobile devices, e.g. The Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine.
- Epocrates is a complex mHealth app that provides such features as disease, labs, and diagnostic information. Thus, healthcare providers can look up diseases, review differentials comprising drugs, conditions, and other factors to get specific treatment recommendations.
- Medscape is an app created by a global portal for physicians and healthcare providers. The portal and the app offer the latest medical news, expert perspectives, essential point-of-care drug and disease information, and a personalized CME tool to track progress and log completed CME activities.
That type of apps was born after the release of the Manhattan Research/Physician Channel Adoption Study, which reports that physicians spend 64% of their online time looking for information to make or support clinical decisions. Those apps now provide rapid access to evidence-based information that is vital for clinical decision-making.
- Isabel has a mobile app with an extensive database with information on most of the known diseases and their symptoms for healthcare providers to use and make better decisions.
- PEPID also has an app for decision support and patient care improvement. Healthcare providers provided a tool that helps to come up with a correct diagnosis by inputting all data gathered from a patient. The app includes over 3k disease profiles available anytime, anywhere on any mobile device.
This category includes apps that allow monitoring the condition and location of patients with chronic diseases remotely. Typically, such apps contain an alarm of some sort, color-coded signals according to severity, based on a patient’s vital signs and other features to assist disabled persons with independent living.
- Medtronic is a supporting app for iOS and Android devices that connect to devices and monitor various health indicators, e.g. weight scales, glucometer, and blood pressure. Healthcare providers can check and analyze gathered data via the app. The app also has an alert feature that notifies healthcare providers if the patient’s condition reached some of the pre-defined levels.
- Senseonics also has an app that helps to synchronize all the devices involved in blood glucose monitoring. Namely, the app connects to the sensor, implanted under the patient’s skin, collects and analyzes data, and alerts the patient when the blood glucose level is too high.
Mobile devices have become a ‘learn anywhere’ tool for quick, easy access to information students need to succeed in their programs and careers. Similarly, mobile apps are used by healthcare providers, especially for continual medical education (CME) activities that keep them informed about the newest evidence-based researches, data, and medical practices.
- TouchSurgery has a mobile app that contains an entire library of educational surgical simulations with over 200 procedures in 17 specialties. It can be used to learn and rehearse for surgery anytime, anywhere.
- 3D4Medical is an advanced 3D anatomy platform that is available for iOS and Android mobile devices. The app is made for exploring human anatomy using the latest 3D technology. Learners have 3D models of a human body they can zoom in to get a closer look at any part of the body, rotate, cut, and adjust the images and animations in any way needed.
Seeing all this variety of apps that assist healthcare providers and make communication with patients much more efficient, it is hard to say that mobile technology doesn’t have a positive impact and benefits on healthcare services. Now let us explore mobile apps that are tailored for patients and their well-being.
Patient-Centered mHealth Apps and Their Value
There are lots of available mobile apps for people who want to track their wellness data and become more informed about their health. Unlike apps meant for healthcare providers, apps for patients are all about patients’ daily life and help to maintain a particular lifestyle. Many of those apps are free, so various calorie counters and fitness trackers have become highly popular.
It is complicated to separate apps for healthcare providers from apps for patients because, in a lot of situations, there is a single app for both parties, but with distinct features available, depending on what side of the deal you are on. It is possible to group patient-centered apps under such categories: fitness-focused, mental health, women’s health, and dieting.
In recent years, fitness has grown popular and become a trendy way to live a life. This category includes not just various calories and steps trackers but also apps focused solely on exercising.
- DAREBEE is a huge portal with lots of workouts for any level of fitness and types (cardio, stretching, yoga, and they even have one for eyes). They use an old-school way to present workouts and they are pictured. There are three fitness apps: FitTap with various random fitness challenges, Pocket Workouts with pictured workouts of every type, and 100 Office Workouts (the name speaks for itself). All are free.
- Nike Run Club is an app that dares its users to enjoy running. The app is suitable even for those who never loved running in their life since it generates workouts according to users’ capabilities and goals.
Mental Health Apps
Mental health treatment requires lots of time and money, which sometimes makes it impossible to undergo by traditional means. So affordable mental treatment apps come in handy. Nowadays, some apps help to manage schizophrenia, depression, addictions, and stress, covering the most common mental illnesses. These apps usually have specific features such as chats with licensed therapists.
- CodeBlue is an ‘anti-bullying’ support mobile app that aims at helping teenagers struggling with depression or bullying. The app allows users to create ‘support groups’ and if a user needs immediate help, just a few taps are enough to notify the entire group. The group can text, call, or even request a user’s location.
- Optimism is an app created to help people to cope with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, etc. Within the app, users can track their mood, detect certain patterns, trigger and create personalized mental wellness plans.
Women’s Health Apps
Those apps target a very specific audience, and the whole category is almost exclusively overtaken by period trackers that help women to monitor their cycle, predict ovulation, mood swings, and so on.
- Clue is the most basic period tracker there is. The app is pretty minimalistic and has trackers for lots of different factors, from discharge, stool, to the condition of your hair (and users can add their trackers). The app analyzes gathered data and shows typical cycle length, period length, and other symptoms.
- Glow has four apps dedicated to women’s health or connected to it: Eve is an app dedicated to periods and sex life, Glow is a fertility tracker, Nurture is a calendar to track and plan pregnancy, and Baby is an app that helps women during the child’s early years.
A typical app of this category is an app for calorie counting that contains a database of healthy recipes. More advanced apps can also advise users on restaurants where healthy meals are served and create diet plans.
- Gonutss is a website and an app designed for vegans. Basically, it is a search engine that can suggest some vegan analog of any non-vegan food. The app is equipped with a vast database of healthy vegan recipes.
- Lose it! is a mobile calorie counter with a barcode scanner. The app encourages users to set goals for water intake, nutrients, and weight, and the app will create a personalized diet plan.
To summarize the effect and importance of healthcare apps in our everyday lives, it is worth mentioning Spill chat — an extension for Slack created to provide mental health support for employees and help the world to get rid of emotional pain.
Joining the mHealth Market
Now is the time when the mHealth market is still growing, which is a great time to join it. Don’t wait and get in touch with Onix. We have years of both mobile app and healthcare software development (check out such projects as LiftSync, Healthy Freelancer, and CRM for healthcare providers). We’ll help you to build an effective mHealth app!