Over the past few years, we’ve seen mobile apps, or mHealth apps, begin to solve some of the problems that are ailing healthcare. mHealth is the use of mobile communications technology to provide healthcare services, whether for tracking patient data, enhancing patient education, or providing diagnostic treatment.
mHealth is paving the way for better doctor-patient communication, better data management, improved patient monitoring, and reduced hospital admissions. As a value proposition, mobile apps in healthcare are improving outcomes in measurable, repeatable ways by connecting patients with their doctors even after office hours are over.
Reuters published findings of an Orbis Research study predicting an expansion of the mHealth applications market. In 2017 mHealth captured $23 billion in revenues, with an estimated growth rate of 35% annually over the next several years. The report stated:
While the use of mHealth devices and apps is already widespread in clinical trials, pharmaceutical giants are now setting their sights on connected drug delivery platforms that will automatically detect and log patients’ medication use to improve adherence.
How are digital technology and mobile apps trending in 2019 going to change the healthcare industry? Goldman Sachs says the digital revolution could save healthcare providers $300 billion. It’s clear that smartphone technology and mobile apps are going to continue to reshape healthcare. Let’s look at what to expect from mHealth this year.
Innovative Healthcare Mobile Apps
“As mobile technology and smartphones become widely used in the healthcare sector, mobile medical apps and mobile health (mHealth) are taking center stage.”
There are currently 240 million Americans that own a smartphone and that number is expected to increase. Healthcare innovators trying to capitalize on these trends, creating new apps designed to connect with users in the venue they’re most comfortable with. The HealthWorks Collective recently published some statistics on the use of mobile healthcare apps. They stated:
- There are more than 97,000 health and fitness applications available for download to mobile or tablet devices.
- 52% of smartphone users collect health-associated information on their devices.
- 15% of 18 to 29-year olds have health apps already installed on their cell phones.
- 8% of smartphone users between the ages of 30 to 49 have medical app downloads.
- 40% of doctors trust that these mobile tools can lessen the number of on-site clinical visits.
- More than 25% of American physicians are using at least one mHealth app.
- 93% of doctors say mobile apps can enhance the quality of patient health.
Mobile health apps can be used in a variety of ways to improve your health:
- To track personal health data. This could include emergency contact information, allergies, and medications. Millions of Americans are using these tools for mobile fitness tracking, sleep patterns, heart rate, or other vital signs.
- For real-time communication with your doctor or another healthcare provider. While this could be as simple as a phone call, telehealth apps let doctors analyze physical symptoms remotely with the use of an HD camera. Data can be shared with an EMR or a health portal, which can help inform an array of specialists and improve care continuity.
- To improve the quality of life for doctors – and their patients. The benefits of mHealth extend beyond the improved health for patients; these devices can improve the lives of doctors. Physicians in rural areas can use telehealth apps instead of driving to a hospital. Smartphone apps can improve physician efficiency by streamlining data entry. They can be used for decision-support or to improve communication between specialists.
The traditional face-to-face interaction between patient and doctor is changing. New mHealth applications are creating a different way of providing care. From a remote body temperature sensor to track a child’s fever to a digital pill that monitors medication adherence, there are a host of innovative mHealth applications coming to market – and some of them are already here.
- Temp Traq is a small wearable patch that fits comfortably under the arm. The patch tracks the temperature of the wearer, sending it through the cloud to a mobile application. Adults can monitor their child’s temperature while they’re sleeping without having to wake them up. Temp Traq is available at CVS, Target, and online.
- Spok Mobile is an app designed to improve continuity of care by linking the hub and spoke healthcare provider model to a secure dashboard that facilitates communication between a care team. The app is interoperable with EHRs and hospital scheduling.
- Abilify MyCite was recently approved by the FDA. Abilify MyCite is an aripiprazole tablet with a small ingestible sensor embedded in the pill. When the pill hits the stomach lining of the patient, a small ping goes out to a smartphone application. This mHealth application has been approved for treatment of mental illness, where medication compliance is notoriously difficult.
While these three innovative examples are interesting, they are, literally, the tip of the mHealth iceberg. With all predictions showing widespread increases in user adoption by both patients and doctors, mobile apps are certain to reach into the workflows of every practice, no matter how large or small.
Telehealth and Mobile Apps
“At its core, what allows telemedicine to be one of the most promising healthcare trends on the list is that it can be achieved via the most popular device in America: the smartphone.”
Digital Authority Partners
Telehealth is irrevocably tied to the mobile app craze in healthcare. That’s because telemedicine brings the doctor to the patient’s favorite digital device, whether a smartphone, tablet, or desktop. With a smartphone, patients can connect with their physician of choice with the touch of a button. That makes telehealth a unique sort of virtual house call that is as intimate and patient-focused as it is efficient.
In 2017, there were more than 30 million telehealth visits. That number climbed by eight million encounters from the prior year. It’s clear that patients of all ages are growing increasingly comfortable with a telehealth app on their smartphone; Harvard Business Review suggests 97% of patients are satisfied with their first use of the technology and say the tool improved their relationship with their doctor.
When it comes to mHealth apps, telehealth is one of the most popular. These tools have bridged the gap between physician and patient interaction, bringing healthcare into homes, schools, and offices, improving access to care for millions of Americans.
OrthoLive offers an mHealth solution that is a secure, affordable option for orthopedic practices. Contact us to talk about our innovative healthcare app and how it could change your provider-patient relationships.