The mobile health (mHealth) apps have already penetrated deeper into the current healthcare system and facilities and brought rapid transformation in the treatment and medical care of the patients in more ways than one. The mHealth app market has already grown way beyond its initial hype and helped to make a lot of value-additions to the sector.
Within just a span of two years or so the volume of mHealth apps literally doubled across both iOS and Android platforms. mHealth apps became a crucial perpetrator of growth for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry in a never-before way. Apart from pushing the growth, these apps are also paving the way for faster and cheaper treatment at the hour of the need or medical emergencies. Especially, for dealing with chronic diseases and health conditions mHealth apps continued to play an era-defining role.
As the popularity and penetration of mHealth apps with disruptive technologies like Blockchain, AR, IoT are steadily growing and adding value to the healthcare ecosystem on a regular basis, this is high time to take a stern look and assess the key benefits of these apps in delivering treatment to the patients of the future.
What is mHealth?
As per the statement of the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no fixed standard or definition for the mHealth apps as of now. But when the Global Observatory for eHealth conducted a survey way back in 2009, the organisation came with a gross definition and as of now, that remained to be the accepted definition of mHealth in general. According to this definition, mHealth apps are nothing but mobile apps that support medical treatment and public health practices through the smartphone devices, patient monitoring gadgets, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other types of wireless network devices.
As per this definition, all health and fitness apps working with smart wearable, fitness trackers and smartphone platforms are mHealth apps. The health magazines presented with a native mobile interface can also be considered as mHealth apps. From apps for doctor’s appointment booking to patient monitoring to connected apps working as the interface for health devices, all come under the category of mHealth apps.
Benefits of mHealth
1. Apps that Improve Wellness
While health apps became one of the most popular app niches and the available technologies are allowing developers to build mHealth apps with exceptional ease, the real question that is haunting the healthcare digital strategists is whether these apps are going to be highly useful and effective in improving the wellness and patient care for people.
Unlike other app categories and niches, mHealth apps play a critical role in the betterment of healthcare and delivering practical benefits to prevent, cure and manage diseases. Here through the rest of this blog post, we are going to explain the key reasons mHealth apps can be beneficial for the future of healthcare as a whole.
2. Easy Health Tracking Via Health Apps
Getting real-time health information of the patients that doctors always find beneficial to track the progress of diseases and also to track the effects of the treatment on the patient. In this respect, health tracking apps can really play a vital role. As per a recent survey by the World Health Organisation (WHO) around 93% of medical facilities consider these apps to play a crucial role in the betterment of healthcare. FDA already has an established practice to provide vital health data to patients and doctors alike and so FDA encourages mHealth apps monitoring patient health.
Even health tracking apps can be of various types with different types of tracking purposes and features. For example, most of the weight loss and fitness apps now come with an array of tracking features including the capability to monitor heartbeat and pulse rate. In the years to come, we can expect more health monitoring and tracking features to be available through these apps.
3. The Prescribed Treatment
A big challenge for healthcare practitioners is to ensure that the patients take the right medicine at the right time as prescribed by them. This has been a big concern as several studies show that a vast majority of population fall victim to non-compliance to the prescribed treatment. From skipping medicines to taking wrong doses to not following the prescription, there are all sorts of issues in this respect.
Often this non-compliance to the prescription results in non-satisfactory treatment outcomes, the scaling up of the disorder and increased health complexities and healthcare cost. Such noncompliance with medical prescription and treatment results in a whole array of issues including increased hospitalization, relapses and flare-ups and even disability and death.
To help patients dealing with this noncompliance there are several easy to use mHealth apps. These apps can help patients sticking to a medication discipline as per the doctor’s prescription. These apps can continuously keep on alerting people about taking drugs at the right time.
4. Paperless Medical Documentation
Thanks to mHealth apps many medical documents including regular physicians prescriptions, health reports, and other documents can now be completely paperless and digitized through the mobile apps. Thanks to mHealth apps a patient can now access the doctor’s advice and prescriptions right on his or her smartphone screen.
The smartphones, PDAs, tablets and other connected devices can help to turn these documents into non-digital formats that can be accessed across interfaces without the worry to upkeep them.
5. Revolutionizing Physical Examinations
One of the greatest benefits of mHealth apps is the exceptional ease and convenience with which medical examination can be conducted and report can be produced right through the mobile device. These days, getting yourself physically examined in a clinic or hospital is often looking troublesome for busy individuals. This is precisely why people often miss checkups and medical tests.
A smartphone app equipped to check your pulse rate, heart rate and few other health parameters right through the mobile device can easily conduct the checkups and save all the trouble, time and hazards for the physical tests at medical facilities. With the help of connected medical IOT devices and corresponding apps, these capabilities can further be expanded.
6. Apps Are Cost-Saving
Going to a doctor is not cheap at all. In many countries visiting a specialist may cost a few hundred hard-earned dollars. With mHealth apps continuously getting better and more equipped, in the coming years, these apps can actually work as a personal doctor taking care of your regular health problems on a continuous basis.
mHealth apps soon can be more capable to prescribe medications for common and chronic health conditions and can be able to track your health quotients to understand your condition. As the health spots are getting richer and better with more features and functions, the time is not far when mHealth apps will replace the general physicians for common treatment needs.
7. Apps To Treat Chronic Disorders
Chronic diseases and disorders with great impact on the quality of life and life expectancy like Diabetes, heart disease, asthma, etc often require steady management rather than a one-time treatment. These diseases need continuous evaluation, monitoring and an array of lifestyle measures to keep the symptoms in check. mHealth apps can really play a pivotal role in the treatment and management of these disorders.
Let’s give here some examples.
- Treating Hypertension: Apart from keeping track of the progress of your blood pressure measured on a continuous basis, a mHealth app can provide a lot of useful suggestions, diet plans, exercise regimens and alternative medicine to keep your hypertension in check.
- Treating Asthma: Asthma is another chronic illness that makes millions of people suffer everywhere around the world. By using the microphone of a smartphone as a spirometer, a mHealth app can evaluate the condition and can deliver useful prescriptions or can help the patient to get in touch with the renowned specialist in your area.
- Diabetes Management: Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that can’t be treated but can only be managed with an array of measures including, diet, exercise plan, yoga, certain healthy habits and appropriate medication. Now some medical IOT devices with their connected mobile apps allow people to measure the blood glucose level and other metrics. A mHealth app based on these measures can prescribe a treatment plan or can help patients contact specialists.
- Groundbreaking Impact On The Pharmaceutical Industry
Now, after seeing all the benefits of mHealth apps on the future of healthcare, we need to see the groundbreaking impact of these apps on the pharmaceutical industry and drugs as a whole.
What Impact will mhealth have on the Healthcare Industry?
Wider Market Reach
As of now, the digital healthcare market is at its initial stage and the mHealth apps are only partially relied upon by a very small percentage of the population. But at the rate and pace, this health app market is expanding and reaching a wider audience, in the time to come mHealth apps can actually reach out to the majority of patients and through them, pharmaceutical companies will be able to streamline their medicine sales for a wider audience.
Competitive Cost Advantages
When most pharmaceutical companies will have their footprint in the budding mHealth app marketplace, the ensuing competition in attracting new customers and delivering medicines at a more affordable rate will ultimately benefit the patients in terms of cost. With more pharmaceutical companies offering their products through mobile apps, there will be increased promotional offers and discounts impacting the cost of treatment positively in favor of the patients.
More Input For Future Drug Research
Pharmaceutical companies depend on drug research to stay competitive by offering better and more effective drugs. With mHealth apps helping them to monitor the patient’s feedback and the traction of the users on a continuous basis will help medical companies getting more relevant patient inputs and market data and these are supposed to make great value-additions in the drug research of the future companies.
Reliable Marketing Channel
The mHealth apps for pharmaceutical companies will also serve as an effective marketing channel. An increasing number of doctors and healthcare practitioners use these apps to get in touch with the relevant health information and the patients, through these apps they can be approached more frequently by the companies so that they prescribe their drugs more for respective health conditions.
Guiding Patients And Caregivers
Through the mHealth apps, the pharmaceutical companies can also help the patients and the caregivers about the doses and process of consumption for medicines. Companies can dedicate a particular section of the app for providing all the guiding tips, methods, instructions and procedures. This will help in handling the medicines and utilizing the drugs properly.
The Future Of mHealth
Now, we need to take a look at the far-reaching implications of mHealth apps and how they can really impact the future of healthcare and medication in the long run. We need to evaluate where these apps and digital means are going to take the future of healthcare. A few glimpses of this future is already visible with the increasing number of people opting for online medicine stores and accessing mobile health apps to contact doctors and clinics.
Moreover, an increasing number of health-conscious people and fitness freaks are now using wearables to monitor the health parameters and trying to improve them with suggested means. Health and fitness apps are playing a greater role in the improvement of health and fitness for a countless number of people all over the world. A considerable portion of these people actually insists on preventive lifestyle measures instead of medications to stay clear of various chronic health disorders. Mobile health apps are offering the most effective means to stay informed about their health condition and take positive measures accordingly.
In the coming years, we can expect the vast majority of healthcare facilities and medical establishments including the giants of the pharmaceutical industry to step in the digital app marketplace and offer never-before ways to access healthcare for patients of all disorders and health problems. With these apps, expectedly the entire healthcare industry will be revolutionized like never before.