Using mobile healthcare applications for delivering clinical services can improve patient outcomes and solve many challenges faced by the medical industry. According to Statista, the number of smartphone owners is forecast to surpass 3.5 billion by the end of 2020. Another research shows that modern people spend on average 3 hours and 15 minutes daily on their mobile devices which amounts to almost 50 days a year. It means that the foundation for the wide adoption of healthcare apps is already out there and demand for digital health tools will keep growing in upcoming years.
Yet, to make a really useful application that can benefit users and bring money to its creators, just building a product with a medical purpose isn’t enough. The mHealth app development market is a competitive field, so you need to keep up with the current trends to stand out. Below, we outlined the most noticeable tendencies in mobile health tech.
Popular types of innovative healthcare mobile apps
The ultimate goal of most mHealth apps is to enable the delivery of efficient medical services and improve people’s health behaviors. Today, many types of applications aiming to achieve this goal are already offered in the healthcare market. Here are a few examples of them:
- Remote patient monitoring apps
- Symptom checker apps
- Hospital/clinical management apps
- Women’s health apps
- Apps for monitoring chronic conditions
- Reminder apps
- Fitness and nutrition apps
In general, all mHealth applications help to meet the special needs of different groups of users. Based on this criterion, each type can be attributed to either of two large categories: healthcare mobile apps for patients or healthcare apps for doctors.
Patient-generated health data (PGHD)
Gathering and leveraging patient-generated health data is one of the top healthcare mobile app trends these days. Being automatically collected from a person, this information has the potential to transform preventive care and management of chronic conditions. PGHD can include biometric data, symptoms of diseases, medical history, and even some personal habits (e.g. smoking, sports, alcohol consumption).
Mobile health apps for patients can make recording and processing of this information much more convenient and easier. For patients, it means that they’ll be able to detect a health issue early on and receive timely treatment. Doctors will also benefit since they’ll be able to see a comprehensive picture of the person’s health and provide an accurate diagnosis.
No matter what type of healthcare application you’ve decided to build, ensuring reliable data protection should be your number one priority. All medical solutions deal with sensitive information that reveals details about the person’s health and physical characteristics. That’s why the implementation of top-notch technologies like blockchain is absolutely needed to create the necessary level of mobile security.
If a healthcare mobile app is targeted at the citizens of the US, it must also comply with HIPAA rules. HIPAA is a federal regulation that sets standards for the protection of patient health information (PHI) from being unlawfully disclosed. Among other requirements, it enlists the safeguards that have to be present in any medical software.
Adding geolocation functionality to a mobile app is a long-existing trend not just in the medical industry but also in many other business sectors. The difference is that a GPS feature included in a healthcare app can literally save people’s lives. For example, it can help a person quickly find the shortest route to the hospital or get notification about health-threatening situations nearby.
In addition, geolocation may be very helpful in case of accidents and emergencies. For example, if a person is injured and doesn’t know where he or she is, an ambulance can spot the exact location by receiving the information from a mHealth app.
More ways to communicate
Treatment outcomes often depend on how accessible medical services are and whether a patient has been timely evaluated. In this context, patient-doctor communication plays a foundational role. A simple but secure mobile chat embedded into a healthcare application can greatly improve the efficiency of medical services and increase the chances of a speedy recovery.
Besides, healthcare mobile apps facilitate the use of 24/7 chatbots for hospital administrative purposes. For example, a medical chatbot can schedule appointments, direct a patient to a doctor, and send reminders. More advanced solutions can also provide first aid recommendations and offer information about simple health issues if a doctor’s intervention isn’t required.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analysis
Since healthcare AI offers huge opportunities for different segments of the medical sector, the interest in it continues to grow at a rapid pace. In particular, the total amount invested in this technology in 2019 constitutes about $4 billion US dollars. The main use cases comprise highly accurate diagnostics, predictive analytics, and R&D.
When it comes to healthcare app development, artificial intelligence is still less common. In most cases, developers use it to enable the processing of unstructured incoming information and create personalized alerts. But AI technologies evolve and the future is more than promising. For instance, it’s anticipated that AI-powered solutions will replace or, at least, transform the first line of primary care.
Telehealth apps allow healthcare providers to deliver medical services at a distance using, for example, video conferencing tools. Basically, a telemedicine appointment is a virtual call with a physician where he or she can evaluate, diagnose, and provide treatment recommendations to a patient. In addition, telemedicine applications can offer functionality for transferring health data (e.g. medical history, test results, images) and scheduling online visits.
The main advantage of mobile telemedicine technologies is that they improve access to medical care, especially for people living in remote areas. They also make doctor consultations safer since a person doesn’t need to go to a hospital, so there is no risk of catching a dangerous virus or infection.
Wearables have long been used for tracking physical activity and health indicators. For many people, some of them, like fitness bands, are already on the list of basic devices — along with smartphones, PCs, and laptops which most of us use every day. Different kinds of trackers that are available on the market allow users to monitor a heart rate, body temperature, the number of steps, and the quality of steps.
But the trend shows that healthcare wearable technology becomes more advanced. For example, wearable monitors can measure an electrocardiogram and blood pressure. We may also expect that future medical wearables will be able to detect deviations in vital health signs and send alerts to doctors.
Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare
Healthcare mobile apps connected to smart medical devices can revolutionize medical care. By enabling the creation of a comprehensive IT infrastructure in hospitals and clinics, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is predicted to become a true game-changer in the next five to ten years.
In particular, the IoT healthcare applications will make remote patient monitoring effective and convenient for both sides. Vital data about the person’s health will be sent to the healthcare provider’s computer system automatically, so doctors can review this information and adjust a treatment plan if needed. Besides, the IoMT will make self-management of chronic conditions a safe option, eliminating the need to physically visit a hospital to a minimum.
The final word
The healthcare sector is undergoing significant transformations. The necessity to deal with epidemics and pandemics, lack of hospitals in remote areas, increasing demand for quality medical services have put mHealth app development at the center of public attention. Since the whole world is going mobile, reliable healthcare apps have real potential to improve patient experience and resolve many industry problems. Following the current trends will help you get on the right track and build a state-of-the-art mobile solution that will benefit patients and doctors.
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