Apps have been making everything easier for us ever since they had got mainstreamed a few years ago. There might not be many fields left unaffected by the revolutionizing touch of app development. Big enterprises, startups and even local businesses are increasingly relying on apps to improve their processes and better their chances of success.
Healthcare is also one arena where app development has catalyzed remarkable progress. There have been many startups in the recent past which have made a dent into this field by bringing apps and digitizing specific processes.
The Current Scope:
The mHealth market is in its nascent stage now and is expected to yield significant revenues with increasing awareness and growth of availability of quality mobile-based medical devices. Mobile penetration in healthcare segment has had a considerable impact on the overall healthcare industry. MRFR’s report projects a global market evaluation of 21.71 billion by 2023 and 36.5% CAGR by 2020.
Since the healthcare industry deals with large amounts of sensitive data, information technology turnaround for the industry has been slower compared to others.
However, with the rise of apps in every sphere today, the medical industry has seen some changes concerning how it operates.
Apps that have been specifically designed to help the medical field have been helping doctors and providers to automate a part of their tasks, organize better and focus on other more critical issues.
The medical apps focus on not just simplifying patient record keeping personally, but some apps help medical organizations or better patient-doctor communication.
App developers are continually looking for ways to bring the benefits of apps to healthcare. So, in the past few years, we have seen many mHealth applications (the term often used now) become successful in opening up new ways in which technology can assist the health industry.
1. Record Keeping:
The healthcare industry deals with enormous amounts of sensitive data. Keeping all the records in the best way possible and sorting through them at the right time becomes necessary for accurate diagnosis.
There are apps which help patients to keep all their medical records in one place, securely. When the next time the patient visits the doctor he/she can take the full history along by just logging into the app and sharing it with his/her physician.
No more hassles of keeping X-Ray reports, CT scans, etc. and remembering to take them every time you visit your healthcare provider. Mymedi is one such app that allows users to securely store all their healthcare records in one place and then share them with the doctors at the time of treatment.
For healthcare providers, some apps keep a record of all their patient data, saves the trouble of making patient charts most of their practicing time. This ERH (Electronic Health Record) apps enable you to access and prepare patient charts from a preferred location at any time.
2. Tackling Remote Accessibility and Improving Inclusion:
The doctor to patient ratio in a lot of geographies is not sufficient to make quality healthcare available to all sections of the society. Apps can prove to be very helpful in bringing careful, thorough advice to patients who do not have immediate access to a hospital. Having credible advice at a fraction of the prices to be made available to the remote sections of the society can spur better living standards.
In a lot of cases, if provided adequate advice early on, there is no need for the patient even to visit a hospital, thereby reducing the stress on already brimming health centers.
3. Immediate Availability:
The quality of healthcare available also entails the time taken for it to reach the patient. If it is beyond the golden hours, it is not enough. Apps solving this problem are also doing the rounds. These can allow teleconferencing with a certified medical practitioner or seek advice over chat immediately. These apps can cater to the initial stages of the injury/trauma and do more than just first-aid. Tackling emergencies becomes more accessible through such apps, and they reduce the chance of panic and give more time to respond to contingencies.
4. IoT integration:
Though mostly associated with manufacturing and the likes, the Internet of Things can come in handy in improving healthcare processes. For example, Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City has effectively reduced wait times for 50% of their emergency room patients who need inpatient care through their IoT app called AutoBed developed in partnership with GE Healthcare.
Other uses that IoT enabled apps can ensure are managing inventories as well as staff. Since modern-day healthcare involves the use of sophisticated electronic devices too, IoT apps can also help track their performance and know about potential issues like power breakdowns and part malfunctions.
5. Tracking Bills and Payments:
Probably the most significant effect app development can have on healthcare is that it empowers the patient. Apps are designed keeping the patient at the center of the development process. This gives them superior control over how things happen.
Patients can store and track all their medical bills on their smartphones and have them available at their beck and call instead of requesting others for it.
Paying through apps also saves the trouble of making and tracking separate budgets for medical expenses.
6. Monitor Health Personally:
While there are many health and fitness apps available today that can help you track parameters like heart rate, weight and suggest you diets, more advanced features can monitor your blood pressure, etc. and log in into the app give suggestions and relay warning messages to the patient through push notifications. This is hugely beneficial for patients that require regular monitoring of essential indicators and need to manage them.
7. Tracking prescription and Setting Reminders:
Dealing with chronic diseases comes with taking a lot of medicines and often from different places. Managing them can sometimes seem to be a tedious task. Apps can take this dull job and handle it successfully. There are even options for E-prescriptions to go out from the doctor to the pharmacist directly and the bill can be generated through the app itself.
The patient can set reminders to never miss out on taking the medicines and also get notified for refiling the stocks. When shared with the physician, this practice can also allow greater adherence by allowing a check by the physician.
8. Increased Doctor-Patient Engagement :
Apart from allowing instant messaging between them, the doctor-patient engagement can increase significantly through the means of an app. This can be either by sending out appointment reminders or a checklist or prescription revisions from the doctor side. Apps can also be used as a portal to share valuable and relevant information to educate the patients. This can involve audio, video or other media files. This almost eliminates the possibility of forgetting what the doctor said verbally plus having more knowledge on the issue.
This helps teach a warm and long term association between both.
9. Networking for Doctors:
Specialists of a field always have a lot to learn from each other. Networking apps for doctors can help build a thriving community of healthcare providers where they can share thoughts, ideas and best practices irrespective of the geographical boundaries.
Organizing events such as conferences and fora and inviting experts becomes a cakewalk through such platforms.
Technology advances at a fast pace. Helping doctors stay abreast with the latest in their fields becomes essential. A section on the mHealth apps can be dedicate to bringing the news of the medical world to the smartphone screens of the practitioners.
As mobile and internet penetration grows by leaps and bounds globally, the mHealth sector is expected to see enormous progress. App development centric to the health segment has a lot to see in the coming few years. As a society, we might expect apps to reduce the inequalities of access to health care and the following increase in living standards by improving timestamp and costs of availability of such care.