No matter what task you want to complete – make an appointment to have a haircut, buy a pair of trousers or find your way around a new city – there’s probably an app for that. Healthcare industry had no other choice but try to adapt to the mobile revolution: by 2023, the global mHealth market is expected to top $ 102 billion (up from $ 28.32 billion in 2018). Why do both patients and healthcare professionals use mobile applications? In what ways does the mobile technology transform healthcare? You’ll find the answers in our new article!

Mobile Applications in Healthcare: from Appointment Booking Apps to Multi-level IoT Solutions

Before we dive into the fascinating world of mobile healthcare technology, we need to decide what we mean by mHealth. According to Tech Target, the term refers to the “use of mobile phones and other wireless technology in medical care”. On Google Play and the App Store, mHealth apps comprise the Medical category, while yoga, fitness and sound therapy apps usually fall into the Lifestyle category.

From this we can conclude that healthcare applications are intended to educate patients about health issues and medical services, help them detect symptoms of a disease or perform various tasks that normally require the assistance of information and care workers.

Also, there are medical apps targeted at healthcare professionals; these include appointment booking apps, mobile hospital management software, mLearning solutions, as well as applications supporting connected gadgets such as smart wristbands, insulin dose trackers and medication dispensers.

Tasks & Processes Facilitated by mHealth Applications

  • Mobile healthcare apps make finding a good private doctor or health facility and booking appointments easier. In the digital era, customers have a lot more freedom to choose what type of content they’d like to consume, compare prices online and seek advice of independent experts on social media and forums; why should healthcare be different? With applications like Find a Doctor and Zocdoc, patients can search for nearby doctors within their insurance network, read other users’ reviews before choosing a physician, check the doctor’s schedule and book an appointment in three clicks. No phone calls, less paperwork, instant access to a database of well-trained physicians, option to sort search data by specialists and conditions – isn’t it what the future of healthcare should look like?
  • Apps enhance communication and data sharing between healthcare professionals. In order to keep up with the latest medical news, a doctor would have to surf the Web and read dedicated magazines for 160 hours per week; there wouldn’t be much time left for the actual work, right? That’s why only 20% of data applied by skilled physicians is trial-based. The use of latest technology including Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and mobile applications in healthcare makes sharing data a lot easier. As a forward-thinking healthcare specialist, you can now build an iPhone application or use 3rd-party solutions like PatientTouch or PatientKeeper to access electronic records from your mobile device, manage billing data, document hourly roundings and assessments in real time, etc. With the Livestream Google Glass app, you can even watch complex surgeries performed by your colleagues from another city or country!
  • Mobile applications improve patient education and lay the basis for on-demand healthcare. There’s a plethora of chronic care management, diagnostic and general information applications which save patients the trouble of consulting a doctor at the drop of a hat. Among those is the sleek Symptomate Android app which recommends patients to visit a certain doctor based on their health complaints. Apps like ITriage go even further, providing access to a huge medical database where you can research disease symptoms and determine their potential causes, look for medications and hospitals, book an appointed with an experienced physician, etc. Furthermore, there are medical apps like Medisafe’s Pill Reminder which uses push notifications to remind patients to take their daily pills, integrates with the Health app to track patients’ blood pressure, weight and glucose levels and generates reports for healthcare professionals. Obviously, such applications should be developed with the assistance of qualified doctors and approved by FDA. This often pushes app release dates into the indefinite future – but the game is definitely worth the candle! Recent studies show that improper medication usage results in 700+ thousand hospital visits per year in the USA alone. Even with insurance, a night at a US hospital costs over $1 thousand. According to the Economist, the average annual cost of treating patients who fail to take pills is $ 4 thousand higher than the cost of treating responsible patients. With mHealth apps, healthcare organizations can significantly reduce operating costs and increase treatment efficiency.
  • With mHealth apps, healthcare professionals can leverage the power of IoT for effective patient, personnel and asset monitoring. According to Forbes, medical IoT software (which will be a $ 136 billion industry by 2021) might be the silver bullet for our burdened healthcare system – and there are several reasons for that. The use of sensor-powered devices that measure heart rate, blood pressure, sugar levels and other vital data in real time and upload sensor readings to the cloud enables continuous monitoring of patients with chronic and acute conditions. By analyzing sensor data, doctors can find patterns, predict prognosis and adjust treatment accordingly. Connected wristbands and IDs also help healthcare facilities identify bottlenecks and manage their assets more effectively. The Birmingham-based Heartlands Hospital, for example, managed to boost operating theatres’ efficiency by 20% by using electronic records, digital assistants and IoT bracelets. The Internet of Things devices are typically managed via mobile apps that visualize sensor readings and enable users to edit data and change settings – and it brings us back to the mHealth question!

With over 260 thousand applications published on the App Store, Google Play and 3rd-party Android stores, mHealth is one of the fastest-growing app categories these days. Cost efficiency, increased transparency and flexibility are just a few reasons to make mobile apps part of your Digital Transformation strategy.

And while we’re at it, does YOUR healthcare organization make use of mobile apps? Make sure to leave a comment below!

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Andrei Klubnikin is Senior Content Manager at R-Style Lab – a custom mobile, web, and IoT company with a business office in San Francisco, CA. Andrei has been a tech blogger since 2011 and published content on top platforms including Clutch, DZone, Mobile App Daily, IoT for All, etc.

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