How to develop an mHealth App?
Modern technologies have had a considerable impact on the healthcare sector. Healthcare providers have found new ways to get in touch with their patients and provide services effectively. Patients have also found new methods to receive healthcare and maintain track of their health without undergoing extensive medical tests and procedures. Mobile technology has a significant role to play in this new-found convenience.
Today, the majority of the world’s population owns smartphones. These smartphones have made it possible for people to access everything, including healthcare services, quickly. Mobile applications, like mHealth apps, have made healthcare more accessible. According to a report, the global mobile health market is expected to reach USD 310.37 Billion by 2027.
In this article, we will talk about everything related to mHealth apps and answer the following questions:
- What are mHealth apps?
- What are the advantages of mHealth apps?
- What are the various kinds of mHealth apps?
- How to develop mHealth apps?
- What are the emerging technologies that can help build innovative mHealth apps?
Let’s begin by understanding the meaning of mHealth apps.
What are mHealth apps?
mHealth stands for mobile health. mHealth apps are simply mobile applications that facilitate healthcare services via mobile devices, wearable gadgets and sensors. mHealth apps make it easy to collect, share and monitor healthcare data to provide remote healthcare services.
mHealth apps improve the quality of healthcare provided to patients and the efficiency of healthcare organizations as well. According to a survey by RubyGarage, 93% of physicians believe that mHealth apps can improve patients’ health.
There are many benefits of mHealth apps. Let’s take a look at them.
What are the advantages of mHealth apps?
mHealth apps offer multiple advantages, such as:
- Efficiently collect healthcare data
- Help caregivers provide better care
- Facilitate paperless documentation
- Support convenient medical tests
- Simplify chronic disease management
- Reduce healthcare costs
- Support remote patient monitoring
- Ensures medication adherence
Let’s discuss them in detail.
- Efficiently Collect Healthcare Data
mHealth apps collect and process users’ health data. With the help of mobile devices, they can track and manage health data efficiently, which can be very valuable for medical researchers, healthcare providers and caregivers.
- Help Caregivers
mHealth apps assist caregivers and family members in keeping a close look on the patient’s health condition. It helps a lot in the health management of chronic diseases as caregivers can provide timely care in case of emergencies. Also, sudden critical health conditions can be avoided with the help of regular health data insights from the mHealth apps,
- Paperless Documentation
mHealth apps facilitate paperless documentation. They enable healthcare providers to access crucial medical documentation at any time. All medical records, ranging from prescriptions to test reports and diet charts, can be efficiently managed in the form of paperless documentation with mHealth apps.
- Convenient Medical Tests
Besides critical medical tests and examinations, many medical tests can be done conveniently with the help of mHealth apps. In some cases, reports can be generated in real-time as well. For example, heartbeat rate check, pulse rate check, etc.
- Chronic Disease Management
There are several chronic diseases and health conditions that our lifestyle and diet patterns impact directly. Such conditions require consistent health management and tracking multiple health parameters like diet, exercise, symptoms, etc. mHealth apps can assist patients and caregivers in keeping track of such health parameters.
Diseases like hypertension, diabetes and asthma are good examples. In the case of hypertension and diabetes, mHealth apps can help patients keep regular track of their blood pressure and blood sugar levels. They can also offer continuous suggestions, diet plans and exercise regimes to keep their condition stable.In the case of asthma, mHealth apps can help patients use their smartphones as spirometers and help them keep their condition in check.
Several other chronic conditions like cardiac disorders, arthritis, etc., can be avoided as mHealth apps can track symptoms regularly and offer useful insights to patients in order to take care of their health.
- Reduced Healthcare Costs
Regular healthcare costs are very high in most countries, which is also one reason why many people don’t consult doctors until their health gets out of their control.mHealth apps reduce regular healthcare costs as they help people keep track of their basic health, alert them in case of any symptoms and provide very professional insights to manage their health.
- Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring refers to taking care of patients and monitoring their health from a remote location. mHealth apps, when paired with other mobile health technology devices like wearables, glucose meters, etc., can help healthcare providers to view and monitor their patient’s health from a remote location.mHealth apps collect and transmit data, notify providers and track patients’ conditions while reducing the number of clinic visits and waiting time for patients.
- Ensure Medication Adherence
mHealth apps send reminders to patients to take their medicines on time. They send refill reminders and regular treatment routine plans as well. Hence, it ensures medication adherence and reduces hospital readmissions.
What are the various kinds of mHealth apps?
Broadly, there are five kinds of mHealth apps:
- Health Information Exchange Apps
- Telehealth Apps
- Wellness Apps
- Remote Healthcare Apps
- Hospital Apps
- Personal Health Record Apps
Let’s discuss them in detail.
- Health Information Exchange Apps
Health information exchange applications are the kind of mHealth apps that allow the secure exchange of health data and medical imagery to support clinical decisions. Health records can be exchanged between patients and healthcare providers seamlessly with the help of health information exchange mHealth apps.
- Telehealth Apps
Telehealth apps allow patients and doctors to interact remotely via video or voice chat. With the help of telehealth applications, doctors have a balanced workflow as they can treat patients from anywhere and anytime. Telehealth mHealth applications bring healthcare providers and patients closer in a digital environment and make healthcare more accessible. Physicians can assess, diagnose and treat patients, conduct regular follow-ups and quick consultations.
- Wellness Apps
Wellness apps include lifestyle, fitness and nutrition mHealth apps. They can help fitness enthusiasts schedule workouts, manage diet plans, track footsteps and receive regular exercise recommendations.
Mostly, wellness apps connect with a wearable device like a smartwatch to collect all accurate health data and provide appropriate recommendations.
- Remote Healthcare Apps
Remote healthcare apps allow patients to share their health data with healthcare providers to keep them updated on their health as well as receive regular updates, inputs and treatment suggestions.
These kinds of mHealth apps are generally used to keep track of chronic diseases and efficiently manage them while reducing clinic visits. Remote healthcare apps help doctors keep a detailed track of the patient’s condition and health parameters.
- Hospital Apps
Hospital apps assist healthcare organizations in managing several hospital-related tasks such as appointment management, patient monitoring and inventory management. These kinds of mHealth apps help healthcare providers to streamline their workflow, manage everything efficiently and provide high-quality care services to their patients.
- Personal Health Record Apps
Personal health record apps allow users to store and manage their health-related data themselves. They can keep all of their medical records, EHRs, prescriptions, treatment plans, health statistics and metrics in one mHealth app and share it with any physician or healthcare provider they want.
These kinds of mHealth apps can reduce the burden of managing records from healthcare providers and also provide a sense of control to patients. Everything related to their health is safe with the patients and they can decide with whom they want to share their data. It allows quick and convenient access to healthcare data in case of emergencies and also allows patients to maintain their privacy.
How to develop mHealth apps?
Developing mHealth apps is a highly technical task that requires great expertise. A lot of trouble can be caused if the app isn’t developed efficiently. Here, we have listed and explained some crucial steps you must take while developing mHealth apps:
- Determine the type of mhealth app you’ll develop
- Decide the features
- Do thorough Privacy and Compliance Research
- UI/UX Design
- Coding and Programming
- Quality Control and TestingLet’s discuss them in detail.
Determine the Type of mHealth App You’ll Develop
Before beginning any new project, it is always important to be precisely aware of what you want. Hence, you must be aware of the type of mHealth app you want to develop. Earlier in this article, we have explained the various kinds of mHealth apps. You must discuss your requirements with your team and be absolutely clear before beginning the development process.
Creating documentation always helps. You can create detailed planning documentation to ensure that you don’t forget anything as the development stages proceed.
Decide the Features
You can start planning the required features once you decide what kind of mHealth app you want. There are several features one can have in their mHealth app.
Features depend on the purpose and target audience of the mHealth app. For example, there is no point in having a video consultation feature if you are only looking to develop a personal health record mHealth app.
Some features that are customizable according to the type of mHealth app are:
- Dashboards: A wellness mHealth app dashboard may be different from a remote patient monitoring mHealth app dashboard. It would help if you decided the layout of your app’s dashboard according to your target audience and its purpose.
- Payment Portal: You can integrate a payment portal you are most comfortable with. You can also offer payment packages and integrate multiple payment gateways to provide options to your clients.
- Real-Time Chats and Video Calls: The necessity of real-time chats and video calls depend on the kind of mHealth app you’re building. This feature can be essential in a remote patient monitoring mHealth app but unnecessary in a personal health record mHealth app.
Do Thorough Privacy and Compliance Research
Privacy and security of patient healthcare data are vital.
According to a report by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 41.2 million healthcare records were exposed, illegally disclosed or stolen in 2019 alone. With the rise in the number of healthcare data breaches, it becomes imperative to ensure that all government regulations and compliances are met while developing a mHealth app.
Even though regulatory compliances vary from one country to another, some healthcare compliances you must thoroughly research about while developing a mHealth app are:
Smooth and effective user interface and user experience designs are a necessity for mHealth apps. Your mHealth application should be easy-to-use and not confuse patients. Optimal UI/UX can be designed by incorporating all necessary features and ensuring a smooth user pathway.
Using rapid prototyping can help you achieve the ideal UI/UX design for your mHealth app. A few key points that may help are:
- The graphic design should be uncomplicated and clean.
- Important information should be displayed on the main dashboards.
- Address pain points such as multiple log-ins and find a way to work around them.
Coding and Programming
After you’re done with the UI/UX designs, you can begin to code the application. Coding is an essential step and requires high technical expertise, as this is where the actual development occurs.
Agile development practices can help you simplify the coding and development process, and every step can be broken down into sprints to focus on each aspect carefully.
It would help if you considered hiring an experienced mHealth app development team to assist you here. It can help you ensure that the app is built correctly, and you don’t end up investing a lot of money. It will also help you ensure that all regulatory compliances are met and high-security measures have been integrated.
Quality Control and Testing
It is essential to perform internal and external quality control testing after you code the mHealth app to ensure that it is working according to your requirements. Testing helps to ensure that:
- There are no hidden bugs.
- The workflows are smooth.
- The app is user-friendly.
- There are no missing features.
- All requirements are met.
- There are no gaps in security and privacy.
- The app is functioning smoothly overall.
Skipping the testing phase can be very unfavorable for you as you may end up launching an incompatible mHealth app and lose credibility and clients. Quality assurance plays a significant role in business growth and excellent client experiences.
All the steps mentioned above help you to ensure robust mHealth app development. However, there are also a few ways that facilitate innovative mHealth app development. Let’s take a look.
What are the emerging technologies that can help build innovative mHealth apps?
Several emerging technologies are finding their way into the healthcare industry. However, the following three technologies can significantly help in the building of innovative mHealth apps:
- Blockchain Technology
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
Blockchain technology has been receiving a lot of traction recently, and the healthcare industry is one of its recently-found applications. Blockchain technology offers multiple advantages (for example, immutability and transparency), making it a very suitable option for the healthcare sector.
By pairing blockchain with mHealth apps, secure storage and exchange of medical data can be ensured. Blockchain based mHealth apps can help tackle data breaches significantly.
Many healthcare organizations have already begun to realize the potential of blockchain in healthcare and started implementing it. According to a report by Aftrex Market Research, the blockchain in the healthcare market is expected to reach $5517.6 million by 2026.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence in healthcare is growing rapidly. According to a research by GVR, the AI in healthcare market is expected to reach USD 31.3 Billion by 2025.
Pairing mHealth apps with artificial intelligence can offer several benefits to the healthcare industry, such as:
- Process and analyze massive amounts of data.
- Possibly diagnose patients based on their medical data and symptoms.
- Manage health records quickly and efficiently.
Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
Internet of Medical things enables medical devices, like sensors, to connect with each other and exchange healthcare data. By pairing IoMT with mHealth apps, a lot of data can be collected accurately and quickly, such as glucose levels, blood sugar levels, etc. and can be available for quick analysis.
According to Delloite, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) market is estimated to reach USD 158.1 Billion by 2022. Many healthcare organizations have already begun implementing IoT in healthcare. By pairing it with mHealth apps, many new heights can be achieved.
mHealth apps are a great use of technology to ensure smooth workflows in the healthcare industry. According to Statista, the mobile healthcare market is expected to exceed USD 300 Billion by 2025. Even though there are several mHealth apps available readily, you must always opt for a customized mHealth app to fit your institution well and you don’t have to sacrifice on any requirements.
With the sector’s critical nature, it is essential to ensure that all procedures are carried out smoothly and the highest level of security is maintained. Hence, the development must be done step by step and very carefully.
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