Modern technologies and innovations continue to make era-defining impacts on the medical treatment and healthcare industry. The impact of mobility, connected gadgets, wearable healthcare devices, and a host of other technologies had become so significant and impactful for several years that any of the most advanced medical facilities equipped with the latest gadgets and healthcare practices inspired positive awe when it was compared with healthcare facilities just a decade ago. Digital technology advancements in healthcare are helping us lead safer, healthier, more productive lives.
For some time, mobile health apps are increasingly being relied upon for crucial purposes like patient-to-doctor communication. Thanks to these health apps, managing healthcare data, monitoring patients, managing electronic medical records, and scheduling patient appointments have become easier than ever before. The mobility in the healthcare sector has made the most significant contribution with a long-ranging impact on the whole sector.
Where does the Digital Healthcare Market Stand Now?
If you look back at the overwhelming increase in the development of numerous mHealth apps and fitness apps, you can figure out that the whole of digital healthcare is now experiencing exponential growth thanks to these healthcare apps. According to the latest report from IQVIA, there are more than 318,000 health apps. The same report also revealed that every day the mHealth app market gets 200 new apps. These figures alone show the digital revolution is in the making for the entire healthcare industry.
The increasing utilization of Digital Health apps has particularly been useful for controlling five crucial diseases that always have a big impact on the health of a population. The treatment, prevention, and management of acute diseases like diabetes, asthma, cardiac disorders, and pulmonary conditions have particularly benefited through these health apps. According to the same IQVIA report, digital health apps are estimated to save around $7 billion annually for the US healthcare expenses spent on the treatment and management of these crucial diseases.
As the recent study shows, the worldwide market of mobile health (mHealth) apps stands in 2018 at a valuation of US$28.320 billion and is expected to grow at the rate of 29.30% until 2023, when the market capitalization of the mHealth apps we expected to stand at US$102.35 billion. According to the same report, mobile health apps coupled with the latest technologies like Big Data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) based connected health gadgets, geolocation technologies, Blockchain, and several other technologies are going to have a decisive impact on the digital health apps.
All these data and findings show the tremendous growth potential of health apps and a bounty of new and innovative technologies being introduced to reshape healthcare systems. Let’s look at 7 digital trends that we think are worth watching.
1. Mobile Healthcare
Let’s start with the obvious and most prominent trend. Mobile apps have emerged as the most effective means to ensure optimum patient engagement. Thanks to mobile health apps contacting doctors and medical care facilities in the hour of the need have become easier than ever before. In many parts of the world where mobile app development has penetrated the healthcare systems globally, these apps have contributed tremendously to the prevention, treatment, and management of several crucial diseases. For instance, in the past few years, mobile apps have played a central role in preventing and managing Type 2 diabetes. Undoubtedly, the exponential growth of mobile health apps and the utilization of these apps continue to transform modern healthcare.
Mobile health apps have emerged as crucial tools in the day to day patient care and healthcare management across numerous facilities all over the globe. The promise of mobile apps in the healthcare ecosystem is limited to better treatment, but these apps also contributed immensely to making healthcare more affordable and accessible.
A vast majority of the smartphone flaunting population uses at least one health app now. Apart from the exponential growth of health apps in total number, their reach and penetration have become exemplary. A healthcare ecosystem is not thinkable now without the role of mobile health apps. For app developers worldwide, mHealth apps bring a sizeable growth opportunity. The impact of health apps has become so widespread and era-defining that any healthcare facility that does not embrace mobile health apps runs the risk of being deserted by the patients.
2. Patient Produced Health Data
Those days are long gone when patients needed to look up to the caregivers or practitioners for simple health measures. Now thanks to widespread access to health measures and working knowledge about symptoms and signs, we can check about any health problem in real-time right on the screen of our handheld devices. Patients today are a lot more educated and trained about different diseases, diagnostic parameters, and medical care practices.
For routine diagnostic purposes like evaluating blood sugar count, blood pressure measurement, and heartbeat counting, you have simple and easy-to-use medical devices that can be kept close in hand and connected with a mobile app to view and evaluate the data. These self-diagnosis medical devices have given rise to the increasing volume of patient-generated medical data.
Besides being a gold mine of useful medical insights for modern research and medical training, patient-produced medical data serve the tremendously important and practical purpose of remote patient monitoring. Mobile health app developers continue to bring innovative patient monitoring apps for smart wearable, fitness tracker, and mobile platforms. Certain acute diseases like diabetes, cancer, depression, and cardiac arrest require continuous monitoring to keep track of life-threatening emergencies. Thanks to these useful in-home gadgets and patient-generated diagnosis data, the patients’ health conditions can be evaluated remotely, and usage instructions can be communicated to keep the medical condition stable.
3. Healthcare loT
The Internet of Things is no longer viewed as the cluster-connected devices that make our indoors smarter and more comforting. IoT has already penetrated serious environments like the manufacturing and healthcare sector and offered a lot of value. Healthcare IoT devices and apps have the potential to transform the medical practice and caregiving in a truly never-before way.
Connected healthcare devices started through wearable health and fitness trackers that always provide useful health information and insights through connected mobile apps. But I continued to transform many regular health devices into connected gadgets and helped them to pass real-time patient information to the doctors and caregivers. The push of IoT in transforming all health devices and equipment into connected ones also paves the way for a whole array of medical health apps.
The connected health devices can bring in a lot of innovations in the healthcare ecosystem. From processing the diagnostic information in real-time to suggesting treatments, in many ways, healthcare IoT devices can transform healthcare facilities in a never-before manner. These IoT gadgets coupled with geotagging and location tracking technologies can also help healthcare facilities manage inventory better.
A few of the crucial value additions made by the healthcare IoT devices and equipment include the following.
- Fast-paced diagnosis for emergency patients
- Faster processing of crucial health information
- Remote health and patient monitoring
- Easier access to critical medical hardware
- Better tracking of inventory, staff, and patients
- Better management of medical drugs
4. Blockchain Technology
One of the biggest concerns for healthcare facilities worldwide is preserving and protecting patient data and preventing all types of threats and vulnerabilities concerning data security. This is particularly true in the context of connected healthcare gadgets that are increasingly posing security threats of all types. While ensuring optimum data security, connected healthcare devices and apps also have to remain compliant with the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) rules. Blockchain, as the most secure decentralized database technology, can help healthcare systems addressing both issues.
There is no better and more equipped technology so far as the Blockchain when it comes to data security. The blockchain is a decentralized database that allows open access to information for all stakeholders within an organization while controlling the access with secure encryption and preventing any data theft or tampering with a “write-once, never-delete, never-change” protocol. When Blockchain empowers the healthcare data for a medical organization, the patient’s data is in the safest custody.
Thanks to Blockchain, health apps can ensure a far better user experience as they can do away with the so-called protective security protocols like registration and passcodes. Apart from this, Blockchain-based processing can save a lot of paperwork through mobile apps in the case of many healthcare facilities. Blockchain databases can allow unhindered access to personalized patient records and databases while preventing all types of tampering efforts.
5. Big Data Analytics
Big data analytics for digital health applications has emerged as one of the most significant new technologies to foster innovations for treatment and care. As digital healthcare and an increasing number of mobile health apps are pushing for uncontrollable growth in medical data, the biggest challenge for many healthcare facilities is to turn this exponential growth of data into opportunities. The promise of gathering the most relevant insights from the medical data is what made healthcare facilities look up to big data analytics.
Big chunks of medical data comprising patient data, treatment history, medical records, demographic information, medical equipment, and inventory data, health app data fetched through user communication, billing and insurance data, healthcare logistics data, and many different facets of data directly or indirectly related to the healthcare industry can now be brought under the scanner of big data analytics. Most relevant insights for addressing various issues can be processed.
We are getting to the point now where companies have so much data that we can start to model the risk factors associated with a given patient or procedure. For example, we can assume how likely someone is to be readmitted to a hospital or what their anticipated recovery time will be. Big data has the potential to change how we care for people fundamentally.
These data-driven insights generated by analyzing the different facets of medical and healthcare data are considered the real promise of Big Data analytics. Through the effective apparatus of big data analytics, doctors and caregivers can get the most relevant insights about patients’ health and accordingly come up with an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plans. On the other hand, medical researchers studying the symptoms of thousands of similar patients can acquire the most relevant insights about the disease and effective treatment plans.
6. Mobile Payments
Mobile payment has emerged as one of the era-defining trends for all niches and categories of mobile apps in recent times. Undoubtedly, mobile payment is also helping mobile health apps to process the payment for healthcare services.
Many health apps are already allowing patients and healthcare subscribers to pay through the mobile payment feature right inside the app. Health app developers are increasingly leaning towards integrated mobile payment solutions to ensure a superior user experience. This allows the healthcare customers in a hassle-free manner and by the quickest health service by paying it instantly on their device screen. As healthcare establishments more frequently face emergency and critical situations, faster payment processing through mobile payment can take if the worries of paying the dues at the right time.
From paying for the medicines on the go-to book a doctor’s appointment on your way to the office to pay for the oxygen in a critical medical condition of some family member, mobile payment can help you in numerous ways to dodge the difficulties and make treatment available at the right time.
7. Telemedicine Services
Any study of the mobile health app market across all the platforms will reveal that telemedicine service apps are the most popular among all types of medical health apps. The telemedicine market is expected to reach $40 billion by 2021.
Telemedicine apps alone transformed the way doctors and patients interact and communicate. Thanks to telemedicine apps, no longer the geographical distance between the doctor and patient interferes with the availability of timely care and treatment.
Most doctors and health practitioners believe that thanks to these apps treating chronic disorders and various day-to-day health symptoms and prescribing the right medicine and remedies have become easier than ever before. Telemedicine apps allow chronic patients to keep in touch with the doctors and avail their advice and medicine prescriptions in real-time through their mobile screen.
More than half of telemedicine users feel these apps more effective for availing regular treatment and care than physically visiting the clinics. No wonder telemedicine apps became the most convenient and popular way to avail healthcare service and treatment remotely.
The above-mentioned trends for digital healthcare and medical apps can truly be considered the tip of the iceberg when considering the overwhelming promise and possibilities they offer to transform healthcare services. These technologies will continue to transform and make value-additions to patient care all over the world.