What kind of healthcare apps are there?
There are several healthcare app categories on the mHealth marketplace and they span broadly from telemedicine, telehealth, appointment scheduling to educational, mindfulness, and health and fitness.
Telemedicine (also referred to as telenursing) allows patients to communicate with medical professionals through mHealth mobile apps, tablet apps or computers for virtual consultations and monitoring of health.
Teleconsultations with a nurse or doctor are seeing increased use as technology is advancing and more and more people have access to and feel comfortable using electronic devices as an alternative to in-office visits. The global covid-19 pandemic only boosted teleconsultations, as virtual health visits dramatically decreased the risk of contagion.
Telemedicine is beneficial by being cost-effective to the medical office. It lowers the need for front-desk and pre-consultation staff to assist before the actual appointment. Effectiveness for nurses and doctors improves as they are able to see more patients in the same time-frame. A study showed doubling of the nurses’ caseload capacity by using telemedicine technology.
Medical practitioners using telemedicine apps see fewer cancellations and missed appointments. At the same time, their competitiveness is increasing significantly by offering strong patient convenience factors previously exclusively offered by retail health clinics and online-only providers.
The two main convenience factors for patients are time-saving and convenience. Not having to commute, especially for rural areas, saving transportation costs, spending in the waiting room, taking additional time off work, or arranging for child-care are all great incentives to choose a provider with telemedicine capabilities.
For those not feeling physically well, it’s an added benefit to see the nurse or doctor from the comfort of their own bed or couch.
As a direct result of this, medical providers with telemedicine apps see an increase in patient satisfaction, retention, enrollment and as important – revenue.
Telehealth, as with Telemedicine, is also offered through smartphones, tablets, and PCs. It differs from Telemedicine by targeting a broader demographic as it refers to a broader scope of healthcare services.
The demand for and popularity of mHealth apps is evident. Over a period of six months, the number of patients reporting at least 1 telehealth visit went up 57 percent. Even more for people with chronic conditions at a staggering 77 percent.
One area that is sure to see an aggressive growth moving forward is geriatrics. With an aging population’s desire to stay in their homes instead of moving to nursing homes, the need for easy access to health services is obvious and just what telehealth apps can provide.
However, areas across the entire healthcare domain will benefit from Telehealth consultations. Whereas some consultations for some specialty fields require the initial visit to be in-office, the next logical steps will be to take health consultations online for follow-ups where audio and video are just as effective tools for continued care as physical presence.
Healthcare industries using Telehealth apps
- Physical therapy
- Occupational medicine
- General Surgery
- Orthopedic Surgery
- Obstetrics & Gynecology
- Pediatric Cardiology
- Plastic Surgery
- And more…
Telehealth apps are already being enhanced by the Augmented Reality technology supported by the latest smartphones. AR technology allows for computer generated information to overlay real-world environments, creating an enhanced composite view in real-time via an app.
Generally that means that consultations have the added benefit of automatically bringing up MRIs, x-rays, patient care plans, and other vital medical stats on-the-fly as the consultation is initiated. That’s without any need of the medical staff to locate the information – or the human factor risk of introducing outdated or wrong information pulled manually.
Once a relationship has been established between the doctor and patient, telemonitoring is a natural progression of the patient care plan. Using outpatient mHealth monitoring, healthcare staff are able to monitor physiological data including blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate, and weight via apps developed for their specific needs.
The latest smartwatches can record these health vitals and combined with custom-made apps, can feed this data into the healthcare facility’s database for analysis, monitoring and even life-saving uses. Imagine how useful this information is for common diseases such as diabetics, asthma, or high- or low blood pressure patients as any irregularities can set off an alarm for immediate care action.
While there are cookie-cutter app solutions, most are benefitting from healthcare apps customized for unique uses. A dermatologist will likely not need the same information as a radiologist and apps can easily be slow and difficult to navigate if they are bloated with unwanted features. The cost to build an app is negligent in comparison with the savings it brings in regards to efficiency in the daily work-flow.
The American Medical Association shows the value of Telehealth apps in the psychiatry field below. Prior to April 2020, almost 100 percent of visits were in person. That number changed over one month to a remarkably 92 percent of visits via Telehealth and only 8 percent in-person. Today, with the pandemic under much better control, that number is currently at 80 percent favoring Telehealth and showing signs of continued decline in in-person consultations.
Educational mHealth apps
Educational mHealth apps are not only used by medical students but more so among medical professionals and patients. In fact mobile healthcare applications have become so popular in the healthcare industry, that it’s already a 100 billion USD industry and projected to grow to 189 billion USD over the next 3 years.
Doctors are progressively learning about new research and treatments through seminars, events and healthcare apps. While online encyclopedias such as WebMD are loaded with information, they are also the equivalent to doing precision shooting with a shotgun, they aim too broad, risking information overload.
Mobile learning platforms in the mHealth category are invaluable sources of information when they are trimmed to target specific healthcare professions. For example, we developed an mHealth app for Denver Health, allowing doctors to look up a wealth of information specifically targeted to tuberculosis.
The app we developed features a full reference library of conditions and treatments, latest news from the CDC and industry relevant sources, and access to training seminars. All packaged in a modern, clean and easy-to-use interface with the latest technology powering the back-end. Packaged with these features, it’s become a popular app among tuberculosis treatment professionals.
Educational mobile apps are valuable tools for any healthcare industry if done right, as they provide targeted information that can be updated daily as the latest information becomes available.
Mindfulness, meditation and wellness apps
Doctors are reporting a shift in patient complaints. Where they were previously afraid of dying, they are now afraid of living.
The added stress in the “always-on” culture of modern workplaces and our personal lives can create anxiety. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America tells that 40 million adults in the United States suffer from anxiety disorders. They are the most common mental illness, but fortunately highly treatable.
While treatment should primarily be done by healthcare professionals, wellness apps are a good supplement.
Good sleep, healthy nutrition, and a stress-free environment are the most important parameters for a long and enjoyable life. The demand for apps helping to reach these goals are going up every day. In tandem, more businesses are eyeing the opportunity to make money with wellness apps
Wellness apps are available in various categories
- Sleep help
- Meditation guidance
- Stress management
- Nutritional planning
- Motivational habits
- Breathing programs
- Mood diaries
- Calorie tracking
- Emotional coach
- Brain workout
Health and fitness apps
Combine health and fitness apps with the modern marvel of smartwatch health tracking and you’ve got the next best thing to a personal trainer following you wherever you go.
The most sophisticated health and fitness tracking apps can work with your wearable to track every step you take, every calorie you burn and every heartbeat during the day (and night).
These types of apps are probably the most senior apps in the app market in the healthcare category. Thus, they are also the most mature and feature-loaded.
Health and fitness app categories
- Gym progress tracking
- Workout exercises
- Step counters
- Running companion
- Metabolic health
- Activity tracking
- GPS hiking
- Training plans
- Personal training AI
- Distance tracker
- Route mapping