It takes a lot to develop a healthcare application that people would install and keep. The idea is not enough. There are just too many apps that don’t bring any value. It’s important to stay ahead of the game and keep track of what the users want and expect. One of the ways to do it is to be aware of the trends that affect the healthcare app development of today.
With the development of digital technologies, mobile applications have become an integral part of our life. Therefore, it is not surprising that they are widely used in the evolution of digital medicine. The main drivers of healthcare apps’ popularity are rapid advances in mobile technologies, the rise in lifestyle disease rates, and the growing awareness of the possibilities of mobile medicine among patients. You can find this information and more in our comprehensive guide on healthcare app development.
As for the trends, they appear where there’s a need for something new, a way to cope with changing realities. Or thanks to the appearance of the latest technologies that meet those needs. The technological developments of recent years make it possible for the patients to get better treatment with VR and AR tools, rapidly evolving wearable technologies, and telehealth, be it for treating particular illnesses or for the sake of staying fit.
Let’s take a closer look at the biggest trends in mobile healthcare apps in 2020.
The leading mHealth trend is telemedicine. Telemedicine technologies are not seen as an innovative breakthrough anymore, but they are experiencing their peak, and the influence of COVID-19 is likely to make this trend long-lasting.
Other favorable factors include the abundance of areas on the planet with poor access to medical facilities, as well as the cases of unfavorable state of healthcare services even in some of the most developed countries. For example, 35% of Canadian patients have to wait for over a month to see a doctor. There is a 1 million shortage of nurses in the United States. Telemedicine is a great way to bridge this gap, speed up the processes, and make healthcare services more affordable.
If you provide healthcare services, you may already be considering the possibility of adding telehealth solutions to your business, and you have a point. Your customers will support you. Statistics say that nearly 71% of the patients today prefer their doctors to use mHealth apps. According to a report performed by the Health Industry Distributors Association, 54% of the patients find it more comfortable to consult their doctors over a video call or email.
With the help of telemedicine, patients can manage cases of chronic diseases with greater comfort as they don’t need to go to the doctor too often, thus reducing patient monitoring costs.
#2. AI and chatbots
Artificial intelligence is progressively becoming less and less associated with science-fiction movies and more with “serious” and day-to-day aspects like education and finance. But perhaps one of the biggest opportunities for AI nowadays is in the healthcare industry.
The ability to process large amounts of data and draw conclusions is invaluable for medicine. Like any other hot technology, AI is rapidly making its way into healthcare. AI is now helping to analyze medical images, tailor treatments, create drugs, facilitate medical imaging.
Moreover, it’s able to streamline the workflow in medical facilities. For example, AI can help to automate routine paperwork and scheduling, something that is often fraught with mistakes on the part of medical personnel, being very monotonous. It can be also used to predict patient inflows and make staffing corrections.
AI is truly a life-changing technology, drawing significant investments. It’s expected that consumers will buy more of the latest healthcare apps and AI technology to improve and monitor their health. The AI in the healthcare market is projected to expand to $36.1 billion in 2025, showing a tremendous compound annual growth rate of 50%.
The most evident and widespread manifestation of AI in the healthcare industry is chatbots.
They are used for virtual nurse consultations, making appointments, finding nearby clinics, and accessing information about medicines, checking for symptoms, and other medical tasks.
If you own a fitness club, you can use chatbots to automate the selling of subscriptions, communicate about your club, collect client data, manage appointments, and organize service quality surveys on your website.
Blockchain is a technology that manages databases consisting of chains of blocks, each of them containing information about the previous ones. It’s the technology behind Bitcoin. But there are dozens of other ways to use blockchain apart from cryptocurrencies. Thanks to its anonymity and decentralization, blockchain can improve the management of large amounts of data in any industry.
Blockchain in medicine is used to make predictions about patients’ health and make better diagnoses, provide optimal treatment at a sustainable cost, reduce the number of medical errors made during the analysis of EHR/EMR data. It can ensure the secure exchange of confidential data between a patient and a doctor or medical institution. Based on the blockchain, secure interfaces for the exchange of medical data between doctors and organizations are being developed, allowing to maintain anonymity and compliance with HIPAA and GDPR requirements.
We are likely to see more and more healthcare companies deploying blockchain technology-based solutions to ensure quality healthcare services, reduce compliance and regulatory costs, stakeholder management, and effective patient care. Recently, the Beijing Municipal Government Office announced its “Beijing Blockchain Innovation Development Action Plan (2020-2022)” that project focuses on blockchain’s potential to build a transparent and secure healthcare system while ensuring regulatory compliance.
#4. Virtual and augmented reality
Everyone has heard of virtual and augmented reality tech. Like the majority of cutting-edge digital technologies, it’s primarily used in the entertainment sector. Many people have at least once visited VR cinemas in shopping malls, some have visited virtual quest rooms, and some became so interested that they bought VR devices for use at home.
But helmets and goggles can be used not only for sophisticated games. For example, virtual reality technologies can be widely used in medicine, helping patients with visual impairment, depression, cancer, and autism, as a study guide for medical students, and visual demonstrations for patients. Augmented reality is used for analyzing MRIs and CT scans.
As for medical establishments, the VR/AR tech can:
- Save time and staff costs.
- Transfer complicated instructions to interactive training.
- Avoid real-life damage to equipment or patients’ health in case of errors.
- Repeat actions in the training format an unlimited number of times.
- Standardize learning and testing conditions.
VR and AR are gaining popularity in the fitness and wellness industry. For example, a new gadget, called the Ghost Pacer, recently appeared that allows you to race against a virtual avatar that only you can see.
One of the first companies that decided to promote and use virtual reality in fitness centers was Black Box VR. Box VR users are required to perform typical exercises, while the technology compares their movements with the fitness instructors’ recordings and counts the burned calories.
Augmented reality is also starting to gain traction in the fitness industry. Regardless of fitness level, more and more people see the benefits of devices that make exercising a little more straightforward and engaging.
#5. The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
The majority of today’s mHealth apps would be useless without IoT devices like wearables. And vice versa — the majority of wearable tech requires integration with some kind of app.
The range of applications of IoMT is quite wide: from remote monitoring of patients to smart sensors and medical gadgets (fitness bracelets, smart patches for diagnosing health conditions, etc.). In a recent survey from the Pew Research Center, 21% of Americans claim to have embraced wearable tech, that’s nearly 70 million people.
Since the introduction of Apple Watch in 2015, wearables became a thing to effortlessly monitor fitness routines just by wearing it on the wrist. But the demand will grow beyond the simple fitness trackers.
For example, Apple’s “Movement Disorder API” allows researchers to gather new insights into Parkinson’s disease. Wearable technologies transformed the medical industry by making patient monitoring a much easier task. Integrated with clinic apps, they can also greatly facilitate the day to day working routines of medical professionals. Managing appointments is the most obvious example.
#6. Cloud-based solutions
New gadgets and applications allow you to collect a massive amount of patient data. This way, not only the patients but their attending physicians get access to this information and receive alerts if any deviations occur.
Integrating EHR with cloud-based healthcare solutions ensures the effortless sharing of files, data, records, and checking of e-prescription. Cloud-based apps make it easier for hospitals to access the patient’s records, healthcare insurance plans, and bills.
Besides, you can use cloud data for tracking with the development of epidemics and as a base for developing cloud-based virtual waiting rooms. In June 2020, the Chronometriq company, leader in healthcare management in the USA, announced the release of MagicSeat — a virtual queue management system for clinics.
#7. Social media and gamification
Medical procedures are often stressful and exhausting. Gamifying them can be used to ease it. Like, for example, you can transform your running routine into an escape from zombies.
The rising number of healthcare apps, especially the ones about fitness and wellness, are incorporating social media aspects into their designs. Share information about fitness progress or healthier diets and become motivated by friends’ progress.
The owners of fitness gadgets are already accustomed to the fact that these products actively use game mechanics and rely on socialization. Every day, hundreds of thousands of users share the results of their workouts on social networks, comparing the performance with friends and strangers.
What’s more, competition helps attract children. Take a tooth brushing guide app. Kids don’t usually like brushing their teeth so this game-like approach can change their attitude towards health from an early age, the same as with educational apps.
#8. Voice tech
Voice technology is increasingly being used in all kinds of services and applications. More and more people discover how convenient it is to speak your requests and immediately get results.
Voice tech in medicine empowers patients and eases workflows for clinicians and caretakers. For example, a hospitalized patient may ask a smart speaker to turn on the television or contact a nurse, or an elderly user might want to receive daily medication intake reminders.
The healthcare providers, individual doctors, insurance companies, pharmacies can reap the benefits offered by voice search technology in healthcare. Otherwise, reaching out to the entire patient population, and handling their appointments, can be an enormous task for the care-providers of the healthcare centers.
Even though the market for mobile applications is vibrant, there is still a lack of business ideas in 2020 related to health, and it has room for development. New experiences mean new and more demanding requirements in the areas of design and development.
We are sure that mobile health is the step towards improving the overall healthcare system by improving efficiency, communication, and quality of healthcare services. Mobile health technological trends will continue to disrupt the global healthcare industry in the years to come.
The main trend in the health-related application industry is the need for truly useful products. The highest priority is the level of usefulness of the application. For that, you should know your target audience. For example, physician apps are very different from consumer products.
Over to you!
Don’t hesitate to contact us to receive quality guidance from an experienced mobile app developer.
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The next article in our series on healthcare app development is going to be about educational apps in healthcare.
- Healthcare Mobile App Development: Why, How, and How Much
- Why You Need An App For Your Healthcare Business
- Features and Challenges of Healthcare App Development
- E-Learning Medical App Development: Responding To Changes
- How To Design A Healthcare App That Makes Its Users Happier