If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that healthcare must be accessible over a range of formats regardless of other sets of circumstances and developments. Outside of pandemics, factors that influence the need for telemedicine and patient-focused and initiated medical monitoring systems include a growing need for such services among seniors and those living in remote or rural areas.
Of all the emerging technologies and innovations in telemedicine, healthcare mobile apps are poised for the highest rate of growth and opportunity among professionals in the tech industry. Healthcare is a multi-billion dollar industry, and a large portion of that potential revenue stream rests with developers.
The State of the Healthcare Software Industry
Currently, there are more than 47,140 mHealth apps available on the Google Play Store alone. That number excludes electronic health records and other forms of digital care created for patients by individual practices and providers. Experts estimate that the global market for health apps will reach $186 billion by the year 2025.
The range of mobile apps and digital platforms includes:
* Fitness apps
* Electronic health records
* Patient monitoring systems
* Insurance apps
These are available in digital formats like websites, databases, and wearable devices. Long before the pandemic made telemedicine a necessity, digital platforms were already poised to revolutionize the health care industry. That market includes medical mobile apps.
How Mobile Health Apps Improve Care Delivery and Outcomes
Mobile healthcare apps improve and streamline patient care by cutting the time and cost of service delivery while improving doctor/patient communication. They remove the need for human intervention and oversight from systems that can be automated, freeing doctors to focus on the core aspect of healthcare. Medical apps also allow patients and their families to have a voice and more active participation in their own health and wellness decisions.
However, these are not the only advantages of using mobile medical applications. Telehealth services also:
* Reduce care delivery times. Imagine that a heart patient is experiencing chest pains. By the time they decide that they may be having a heart attack rather than just experiencing indigestion and call an ambulance, precious minutes have ticked by. Now, imagine that same patient receiving continuous evaluation via a wearable app that monitors their heart rate, blood pressure, and other indicators that help is needed immediately.
Having 24/7 access from virtually any location to doctors, monitoring systems, and electronic health records saves time and lives.
* Allow doctors to serve more patients without sacrificing the quality of care. The old way of doing things was to make an appointment and sit in a crowded office filled with other patients waiting to be seen. With mobile medical apps, doctors can conduct mini-consultations, prioritize appointments, and monitor patients off-site. The time and communication between PCPs and specialists is also reduced and improved.
* Improve patient safety and medical outcomes. Keeping track of medications is difficult for patients, especially if they suffer from chronic conditions that require many different prescriptions and treatments. Mobile apps can track all medications and dosages so that providers and patients can track the efficacy of medications, prevent lapses in care, and reduce the incidences of negative interactions between medications.
Say, for example, that someone is taking blood thinners and arrives in the emergency room needing care after an accident. Rather than asking the patient about allergies or what medications they’re already taking, that information is available on-demand. Doctors can also monitor patient’s vitals and reactions to certain medications remotely and make necessary adjustments to their dosage or type of medication. Text alerts also remind patients when to take their meds, when prescriptions are ready, and when they need a refill.
* Improves communication and collaboration. If you’ve ever called a busy medical practice and been put on hold for long periods of time, you know the frustration. Medical apps and other mHealth platforms allow faster, accurate, and more concise communication between doctor and patient as well as communications and collaboration among practitioners, specialists, and office staff.
* Improves compliance and patient adherence. This not only includes ensuring that patients are adhering to their treatment plans and medications, but also provider compliance with regulations, oversight, insurance billing, data security, and patient privacy.
Most Common Types of Healthcare Apps
Your opportunities for mobile app development run the gamut from weight management and fitness to actual disease treatment and monitoring. These possibilities include:
* Patient insurance and medical records databases
* Wearables to monitor nutrition, medicine, biological functioning, and fitness
* Professional networking and collaboration
* Medical reference libraries and databases
* Office administration apps for everything from setting appointments to accounting
* Patient education apps
* Diagnostic apps
* Preventative medicine and healthy lifestyle apps
* Diet and nutrition planners
* Mental health and wellness apps
Opportunities For Developing And Marketing Your Mobile App
Even though the market for healthcare apps is huge and expected to continue growing, many good, useful medical apps fail to take off after launch. The problem isn’t always with the app itself, but in how it is marketed to potential users.
There are plenty of opportunities for developers to build and market a health app successfully. Here are some of our favorites.
- Fill a niche. Many apps find their footing when they fill a niche that’s overlooked or under-served. Before you begin to design your app, check out existing apps to evaluate where you can improve service delivery or close a gap in services.
User reviews are a great source of information. They’ll tell you how users respond to various apps, where they’re helpful, and where they fall short. Pay special attention to negative reviews to gain insight into what consumers want in a healthcare app.
- Emphasize Security. You may be surprised to learn that healthcare apps are among the most targeted by hackers. People want to know that their information is secure and protected, especially when it comes to potentially sensitive health data and insurance information. Make sure that you develop with security in mind and that your potential customers know that.
- Include user reviews. We’ve mentioned reviews as a way to find out where there’s a niche or lack to be filled. User reviews are also helpful for you as a developer once your app goes live. You’ll gain feedback for improvements and learn what components of your app are working so that you can highlight their value during your marketing campaign.
- Connect with an expert. If you can get a medical professional who’s well-known and esteemed in their field to endorse or co=create your app, that lends to your authority and ups the trust factor. In the highly competitive and evolving app development industry, this type of collaboration is invaluable.
- Know your audience. Casting a wide net may catch a few more users, but high initial downloads are unsustainable if what you’re looking for is ongoing use and more downloads in the future. In order for an app to be successful, you have to drill down into your target audience and design the app for their specific needs and health or fitness goals. Know who your audience is, why they would benefit from an app, and how they intend to use your app.
- Build enthusiasm. When there are billions of apps available, and tens of thousands more are released on any given day, it takes more than just a press release to get the consumer’s attention. Start building awareness, interest, and enthusiasm for your app as soon as you begin production, and continue your marketing efforts long after you go live.
- Offer ongoing support. There are many unscrupulous or fly-by-night developers out there creating shoddy, unsecured apps and platforms. Many of them disappear, leaving users in the lurch if updates, tech support, or patches and needed to keep the app usable. One way you can set yourself apart from the bulk of apps is to offer continuous, responsive customer care and support.
Medicine and app development exemplifies the convergence of two growth industries. The evolution of healthcare is aided by those who deploy current technology to address the health and wellness concerns of individuals, practitioners, and society-at-large. Prevention, monitoring, and care services will always be needed, and technology is there to help meet that demand.