Trends in mobile health apps and why you should embrace them
Aug 10, 2022
Mobile technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last decade. Mobile devices are ubiquitous with an estimated 78% of the world's population owning a smart device. It's no surprise then that mobile health apps (mHealth apps) or medical apps are on the rise. These applications for mobile devices are increasingly being used to manage diseases and track the exchange of key data between healthcare providers and patients.
Yet, with more than 300,000 healthcare apps available and some 200 new ones being added to the top app stores every day, the market is overcrowded, to say the least. From fitness apps to wellness apps, meditation apps to disease management apps, there is hardly anything that hasn't been done already. Yet, tailored mHealth apps that cater specifically to aesthetic medicine are relatively limited, especially those that tick all the boxes for both users and health professionals.
In this article, we'll talk about some of the trends in mobile health apps as well as some of the key features that patients look for in healthcare apps. The goal is to help you develop a deeper understanding of mobile health applications and digital health technology, so that you can gain a better handle on the digital transformation that is taking place.
Ultimately, healthcare providers in general and aesthetic medical professionals in particular need to understand why they should embrace mobile solutions in order to effectively plan their digital transformation strategy.
What are some key mobile health trends?
There is increasing evidence that patient portals and health apps have a positive effective on patient satisfaction, patient care, clinical outcomes, and cost reduction. As a result, the global mHealth market (healthcare mobile applications market) is expected to cross US$100 billion by 2023. The two key factors driving the growth in mHealth applications are 1) an increased adoption of smartphones and other mobile devices worldwide and 2) heavy investment in digital healthcare services.
Of the two types of healthcare apps, 85% are designed primarily to be used by consumers and 15% are designed for physicians. There are very few mobile health apps that are equally useful for consumers and healthcare professionals alike - the MeTime app is a great example of one such healthcare app.
What are some mobile app development trends to benefit healthcare?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the healthcare industry and is one of the most significant developments in mobile healthcare. Some of the major breakthroughs of AI include self-monitoring, self-examination, remote procedures, and reduced cost of clinic visits.
Internet of Things (IoT) is another technology that is very promising for healthcare organizations. It will play a key role in optimizing mobile and portable medical devices to recognize situations and respond to commands. Innovations like the “intelligent pill” and "smart contact lenses" that use sensors to collect data and transmit it to a mobile phone app will enable patients to monitor vital functions. For example, Bausch and Lomb are developing smart contact lenses that will collect and send data to an insulin pump and inform the patient of their blood sugar levels and whether any action is required.
The amount of data collected, stored, linked, manipulated, analyzed, and retrieved in healthcare is mind boggling. Big data will play a key role in the management and use of healthcare data generated by Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Other potential applications of Big Data that will likely make it a sought-after healthcare technology in the future include reduction in medication errors, preventive care, reduced waiting times, reduced costs due to better resource management, and predictive diagnoses.
A major concern associated with the digital transformation of the healthcare industry is keeping patient data secure. Given that in the decade leading up to 2017, there were more than 175 million breaches of patient records, this is a valid concern. Blockchain healthcare applications can keep important and sensitive medical data secure, incorruptible, decentralized, and transparent, with the identity of the patient concealed. Therefore, Blockchain technology is likely to be widely used in mobile technology and healthcare app development.
This is a disruptive technology that is already changing the face of many industries and healthcare is no exception. It is predicted that by 2030, approximately one-third of all web browsing will be done through voice commands. The application of voice technology is particularly interesting in apps designed for healthcare professionals. There is scope to reduce the workload of physicians through voice commands, such as to a virtual healthcare assistant, leading to reduced manual documentation. (It is estimated that voice-enabled mobile apps can create an encounter note in under 1 minute.)
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies are seeing a big boost in the healthcare market. AR/VR have multiple applications, ranging from pre-surgical assessments and minimally invasive surgery to 3D simulated operating rooms to impart virtual training to surgeons, mental health treatment, and chronic pain management.
The healthcare cloud computing market is expected to more than double between 2020 and 2025. While adoption of cloud technologies in the healthcare industry was initially slow, the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced and fueled the adoption of this wireless technology. Cloud technology can support healthcare in several ways, such as providing faster, decentralized, on-demand access to important health information (anytime, anywhere) for both healthcare professionals and patients. Moreover, many mHealth mobile apps are supported by cloud systems for data storage and inventory management.
What are some key features in mobile health apps?
Here are some of the key characteristics you should look for before embracing mHealth solutions:
Design and usability
Testing and validation
Ease of use, convenience, reliability, scalability, and cost-effectiveness
Digital health capabilities such as access to medical records, ability to schedule appointments, appointment management, medication reminders, prescription refills, etc.
Specificity of mHealth technologies for specific specialties such as plastic surgery, aesthetic medicine, and dermatology or specific health conditions such as diabetes (apps that try to solve too many problems at the same time are unlikely to find a market today)
Availability in both the Apple App Store and Google Play
What do patients want in a mobile healthcare app?
While both consumers and clinicians access health apps on mobile devices, consumers, i.e. patients or clients, are the key stakeholders in these digital tools. Here are some of the features of digital health technology that patients look for in mHealth apps.
Ease of Use
Nobody wants to use an app that takes ages to understand and navigate. The basic features of good mHealth apps should be easy to use for end-users. Consumers are looking for mHealth solutions that offer them digital access "right now" to their own healthcare on their mobile device. Therefore, you want a digital health application that is as simple as possible for patients to use and saves them time rather than being time-consuming. The MeTime app has an intuitively designed user interface that walks a patient through the entire journey of consulting aesthetic providers.
Patients are more likely to adopt mobile health apps and platforms that provide them with useful and actionable information. For instance, the MeTime app asks patients to choose the area they want to improve and then shows them possible solutions, including surgical and non-surgical treatments. Patients can then take actions based on the available possible treatments by contacting aesthetic medical professionals who offer these services in their area. The MeTime app is therefore designed to walk patients through all the information about a specific concern, keep them engaged, and gently guide them towards taking actions (contacting a provider).
Communication with Medical Professionals
Research has shown that one of the key features that patients want from a mobile healthcare app is the ease of communicating with healthcare professionals. Indeed, people love the convenience of avoiding a clinic visit when possible, not to mention it also helps to reduce costs. The MeTime app is a platform that provides easy access by allowing users to chat with experts. This not only provides a much in-demand service to patients but also helps aesthetic medical professionals save time and effort on unnecessary clinic visits. The chat feature in the MeTime healthcare app also allows doctors to get to know their patients on a more personal level.
Many patients are looking for a community where they can interact and share information with others. A share feature in mHealth applications is therefore a big draw. The market potential of some healthcare apps can be further enhanced by allowing linkage to wearable devices that track the user's fitness routine. In a specialty such as aesthetic medicine, many clients want to share photos and discuss options with their friends and get opinions from others who may have tried similar treatments. The MeTime app has an in-app feature that is designed to help clients share and feel more comfortable and supported. It also keeps them engaged with the app.
The advancements in mobile technology have allowed smartphones to be used as gadgets that make health care more accessible. Therefore, a mobile app or mobile health device can be a very powerful health tool. The number of health apps available to consumers is expected to keep growing exponentially in the next few years as technology and health care develop hand-in-hand. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic and global health crisis has ushered the change sooner than it would have occurred otherwise.
For aesthetic medical professionals, these are exciting times with a huge potential to leverage technological solutions towards better outcomes and patient experiences. One thing is for certain, as an aesthetic medical professional, you cannot afford to ignore mobile health and mHealth apps. All that's left to do is choose from the hundreds of mobile health applications that are available. MeTime ticks all the boxes for aesthetic medicine and should be an easy choice.