Healthcare apps have managed to replicate many aspects of the doctor-patient relationship. From monitoring vitals to managing treatments, apps have quickly become essential health companions for millions of users all over the world. The mhealth (mobile health) market is estimated to be valued at $59 million by 2020, and every player in the space is constantly trying to secure their market share. App developers for health companies are always pursing breakthrough innovation. Their success could mean becoming the lead mhealth service provider in the market.
But what are some of the most exciting trends in the healthcare mobile app space today that are redefining the patient experience, streamlining businesses and improving operational efficiencies across the board while saving lives and helping customers stay healthy? Here are 7 app development and app marketing trends we expect to see in mHealth for 2019.
1. Wearable apps
Wearable apps are now used to track stats such as activity, blood pressure, heartbeat, exercise, and more. The ability of your device to collect this information without your help makes the process a lot more streamlined. The data is often used in diagnosis, and can set off alerts for a user to consult a doctor.
Some of these apps (as well as the underlining wearable devices) are nothing short of incredible. For example, earlier this year, HealthcareWeekly reported the launch of the Omron HeartGuide, a wearable device, mobile app and Alexa skill which work in tandem to help patients keep their blood pressure in check and manage their cardiovascular diseases all via a mobile app.
The most popular types of wearable health apps come in the form of smart watches. More and more users are buying smartwatches, and we don’t expect that to change. What we expect is that more mhealth apps will be adapted to smart watches for better usability. The data gathered from having your app on a user’s wrist can be very significant to how relevant they consider your app.
2. Treatment using AR/VR
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality have completely changed the way users intersect with any given app. VR has also been used for major leaps in both there gaming and social media industries. A popular example is the Pokemon Go game and its ability to combine the virtual world and the real world to immerse players into the game fully. Social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram have seen improve engagement since AR became a part of their product offerings.
With health apps, AR and VR tech is already being used to enhance the user’s experience. Functionalities like diagnosis, health stat analysis, disease monitoring, and prediction of health risks could become more streamlined. Doctors and health practitioners can also use AR for a live diagnosis, and VR to practice procedures and get trained for a specific job. For example, Johnson & Johnson is leveraging VR to help train doctors for specific surgeries without testing the water on a real person. This is nothing short of unbelievable if you ask me.
3. Accessible EHRs (Electronic Health Records)
EHRs contain all the vital information related to a patient’s health such as medical history, test results, medical allergies, and other data points that a doctor would need to be aware of while treating a patient. These records are available to doctors in real time. EHRs have been an important contribution to healthcare practitioners as individuals can receive the right care on time. Health apps are showing us that it could be better.
With the inclusion of EHRs to health apps, all the data collected on the app will be organized and logged on the EHR. This means that health practitioners will have more detailed reports to make diagnosis and recommend care treatments. Apple, of course, was the biggest news in 2018 as the giant software/ hardware manufacturer released their first EHR app for enterprises to test out on the market.
4. Mobile payments and M-Commerce
With so many doctor-patient interactions happening on mhealth apps, it’s only a matter of time before payment becomes integrated. Better payment convenience will mean that users can purchase prescriptions as they are recommended. Delivery services should also be integrated to e-commerce in healthcare for a better user experience. If a patient is found in an emergency situation, their kin could easily make the needed payment for their treatment.
5. Accelerated Mobile Pages
Users have become so used to fast loading website and apps, that anything beyond 3 seconds is a long wait. The problem is, health apps are now loaded with so many features and functionalities. The content of an app will significantly reduce its load speed. Regardless of how good your app is, your user has a short attention span, and they can get frustrated with your app easily. This is why we expect that more health apps will integrate the use of AMPs.
Accelerated Mobile Pages are a variant of HTML coding is used to create apps. AMPs have proven to increase the load speed of web pages by improving performance. AMPs already show a 75% reduction in page load time, and we expect that developers will start paying more attention to this variant.
6. Upgrades to telemedicine
Telemedicine has been used widely to reduce the number of walk-ins at clinics and hospitals. Telemedicine makes it easier for patients to access doctors online, get a consultation, and eventually a prescription. It also provides 24/7 access, so patients don’t have to be constrained by time or location. Best of all, telemedicine has helped patients with chronic illnesses. Their number of visit to the hospital, which could be a lot, can be reduced significantly.
In 2013, Statistica reported that the number of telehealth patients was at 0.35 million. We expect that the number is a lot higher than that in 2019, especially since it was predicted to hit 7 million in 2018. Mhealth developers are constantly working to grow their market share by improving on their strategies and building better health apps. We expect to see innovative ideas being applied to telemedicine this year, and their resulting impact on the market.
7. Significant app security upgrades
Users are getting more comfortable with sharing sensitive data on their health apps. This might be a leap in the industry: getting users to trust providers with their information. However, it means that developers have to tighten the reins on their security as they go. Possible loss of information or an unethical exchange can result in lawsuits worth millions, or the end of that company.
We expect that developers will make significant efforts better regulate the security on their health apps. Malicious software is getting harder to recognize, and data breaches should be proactively fought against. The smart marketers will also include new security features in their promotions, promising their users of safer options to store their data.
Health and tech are two fast-paced industries. When put together, we expect leaps and bounds in 2019. mHealth in particular is expected to experience significant improvements to provide better features and usability for customers and users.