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Two years of disruption have come to an end. However, major technological shifts are still ahead, with the healthcare industry being among the main innovators. In that sector, healthcare mobile apps (mHealth apps) are spearheading technological growth.
Today, there are more than 53K mHealth apps available on Google Play. This number translates into a 6.51 percent increase over the previous quarter.
Over the years, the need for digitalization has been ripening in the medical sector. In 2021, we’ve finally reached the tipping point. Thus, the market size of digital health has climbed to over $265 billion and still counting. But what makes healthcare mobile apps so popular?
Spoiler: Not all credit goes to COVID-19.
With that question in mind, we studied the core functionality of medical apps to uncover the secret recipe for app success. Let’s distill the trendiest features together to set up your healthcare mobile app development for success.
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Main Types of Healthcare Mobile Apps
Medical technology comes in different flavors. Hence, the core functionality will depend on the end user and main solution goal. In a broad sense, all mHealth apps can be divided into patient-facing and doctor-focused solutions.
Types of Mobile Apps for Healthcare Service Providers
Networking Apps for Professional Purposes
Networking social sites are the virtual destinations for doctors to get new patients and establish a powerful online reputation. Here, healthcare professionals can exchange their experience, brush up their skills or pick up new knowledge.
Doximity is a prominent example of medical networking platforms. It is a professional network that caters only to US-based healthcare professionals. Being a LinkedIn for doctors, it connects over 1.8 million medical professionals.
Clinical Assistance Apps
This type of healthcare mobile app assists physicians in processing patient data. Since an increasing number of records have gone digital, protected health information is stored in virtual solutions.
Doctors can review current patient information on the go with these healthcare mobile apps. The information available to them includes notifications, clinical data, and documented activities. These apps also support everyday operations like appointment scheduling and prescriptions. There’s also separate medical scheduling software that can handle just the scheduling part.
Patient Monitoring Healthcare Mobile Apps
Patient monitoring solutions allow doctors to monitor patients remotely and keep track of their vitals. This type of technology includes various sorts of trackers, analytics, and reminders. Healthcare providers can also customize text or email alerts to send appointment reminders and remote care plans via healthcare mobile apps.
Doctor on Demand
Doctor on demand applications fall into the telemedicine category and help provide patients with video appointments, receiving prescriptions, and messaging. Using these mobile apps, patients can connect with various types of healthcare specialists. Therefore, this solution is especially important for those living in far-flung areas.
Types of Mobile Healthcare Apps for Patients
Health Monitoring via Mobile Healthcare Apps
Health monitoring is a two-sided activity that is equally important for professionals and patients. Those patients who have chronic conditions or need an in-depth look into their well-being can benefit from health monitoring applications. These solutions keep a check on their vital signs, send pill reminders, and provide updates on changing heart rates or sleeping patterns.
These healthcare tools allow patients to schedule their own appointments via a mobile app for a faster turnaround. Appointments are automatically synced with doctors’ calendars, so each side can have a holistic look at the workflow. These apps also send email and text message reminders.
User Education on Mobile Healthcare Apps
Unlike medical references, educational apps cater to a wide audience. Here, patients can read up on symptoms and preventative measures. These mobile healthcare apps can also include fancy functionality like interactive anatomical models to enhance patient understanding or recordable whiteboards.
Diet and Healthy Living
This type of mobile healthcare app will help the user to boost their well-being. They can assist users in maintaining a healthy diet, tracking calorie intake, managing sleep cycles, and others. Meditation and fitness apps also fall into this category.
Now that we’ve grappled with the basics, let’s go over the leading features that constitute the majority of healthcare apps.
Trending Features for Healthcare Applications
Today, we’ll focus on medical apps only, excluding the healthy living and fitness category. Overall, patients usually need three basic features in a mobile healthcare app: appointment scheduling, e-prescriptions, and hassle-free access to medical records.
However, only 11% of hospital apps offer one of the three functionalities. Therefore, as we see in the Statista report below, patient apps are lagging behind other medical solutions.
You see, when it comes to mobile healthcare apps, it all comes down to finding the right balance between value and user-friendliness. Here’s what can help you.
Signing Up and Logging In on a Mobile Healthcare App
No matter the app type, sign-up is what enables fast and easy access to the application. It allows for unique user identification and auto-sign-up for returning users. Mind that your sign-up form should be one-step so that it doesn’t scare off the end user.
Geolocation in a Mobile Healthcare App
Geolocation is an essential feature for mobile healthcare apps since it enables a patient to find the address of nearby hospitals, clinics, and others. This functionality also sends updates on medical news and areas of hotspots during the COVID pandemic.
Thus, the Government of India launched Aarogya Setu. This is a mobile solution that leverages geolocation and Bluetooth data to inform users if there’s a COVID-19 patient nearby.
The usage of trackers can help users make sustainable progress toward better health by monitoring their conditions. Popular online medical apps keep tabs on a wide number of relevant parameters based on their purpose. These include blood pressure, heart rate, water intake, calorie count, and others.
Push notifications are integral pieces of the digital healthcare experience of any kind. They ensure inpatient continuity and connect providers and patients across every stage. Whether it’s appointment scheduling or changing working hours, the app will send a notification directly to the user.
Appointment scheduling via mobile healthcare apps can either operate as a standalone solution or constitute a part of another full-fledged application. In the second case, this feature takes the form of an individual booking page. There, users can schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional based on availability.
On the other side, physicians can track their appointments and cancellations, thus obtaining a full view of their load.
If you want to enable patient interaction, consider embedding community features in your mobile healthcare app. This will allow patients to communicate with each other and share experiences or specialist recommendations. Doctors, on the other hand, can update patients and families with secure text, photo, and video updates that disappear for extra security.
To further automate appointments and admissions, most mobile healthcare apps have payment gateways seamlessly baked into them. When it comes to integrating payments, your medical app will require a secure solution that guards patient data while effortlessly connecting other technology platforms. Besides traditional payment options, you can also include recurring payments to help with high medical costs and prompt-pay discounts.
And there’s some good rationale behind this. According to US Bank, most patients prefer having options for managing their financial obligations. In fact, 46 percent of consumers are likely to use a lump-sum bill discount, while 59 percent would prefer recurring bill payments.
EHR is an electronic health record that is now used in digital healthcare. These electronic records help medical facilities to simplify patient data inflow and paperwork. This functionality is tricky to integrate since mobile healthcare apps must be HIPAA-compliant or meet other federal regulations. However, it enables access to the hospital’s internal system and allows it to keep all medical data in sync.
By the way, almost 90 percent of office-based physicians use some kind of an EMR/EHR system. In short, this functionality has gained massive popularity over the last few years.
APIs and Third-Party Integrations in Mobile Healthcare Apps
Okay, this one is also challenging since you must ensure a secure flow of sensitive data. However, APIs drive better functionality and enrich your solution with data collection, robust communication functions, and others. For example, Google Fit and Apple Health collect data from smartphones so that users can have an overview of all their progress. Other popular integrations include BetterDoctor, Box API, Doximity, and others.
Last but not least is functionality for remote rendering of medical services. Telemedicine and telehealth have surged in popularity due to the pandemic crisis.
Therefore, it’s a trending functionality at the moment and it is a must for mobile healthcare apps. Video conferencing, secure messaging, and e-prescriptions fall into this category.
Innovative Technologies for Your Mobile Healthcare App
Along with basic elements, the smartphone world also needs something fancy to step up your app’s success. Cutting-edge functionality like artificial intelligence, IoT, and blockchain can become your big ticket and give you a leg up in the competitive landscape. Let’s explore how you can leverage each of these in your medical solution:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) – AI helps uncover relevant conclusions from patient data for more effective treatment and includes predictive analytics functionality in healthcare.
- Internet of Medical Things – This is a combination of IoT development and telehealth technologies that connect wearable devices like smartwatches and ECG monitors to monitor vitals and share data across multiple devices.
- Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) – These technologies assist physicians in providing customized treatments and placing patients in simulated environments without having to use physical therapy.
- Blockchain – These are peer-to-peer systems for supreme security, portability, and integrity of patient data.
- Chatbots – Chatbots help diagnose conditions, provide psychological relief and consult patients on various issues.
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A Final Word
It takes a lot of creativity and effort to build a healthcare mobile app that people install and use. It takes even more time to make it HIPAA-compliant (if needed) and capable of safely sharing patient data.
However, as the demand for remote healthcare is spiking, medical apps are leading the way for telehealth. Today, healthcare applications leverage a powerful combination of basic elements like sign-up and notifications as well as innovative technologies like predictive analytics. Overall, we can observe a growing tendency toward the proliferation of smartphone applications for assisting users in more convenient medical services.
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