The barriers to creating mobile app are less daunting than they may seem. Big development budgets are not necessarily a prerequisite. In fact, many hospitals are doing really cool things in the mobile app space, without spending all of their marketing budgets. If you're considering a mobile app for your hospital or health system, take a look at four most prevalent types of apps for these organizations.
The number of health apps already available is staggering. There were 17,288 health and fitness apps and 14,558 medical apps on the market in mid-2012, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
And they are spreading. According to Washington, D.C.-based eHealth Initiative, the number of smartphone apps increased 120% during the past year. All these apps are just keeping up with demand, since an estimated 27 million mobile phone users worldwide downloaded a health app in 2012, according to research firm Research2Guidance.
Things are changing fast. The FDA is currently moving to craft a framework to regulate and approve mobile health apps. In July 2012, the organization issued a draft guidance document for Mobile Medical Applications as part of its effort to "help clarify the types of mobile apps to which the FDA intends to apply its authority."
Much of the FDA's guidance will likely be focused on more clinical apps, such as blood glucose monitors and apps containing radiological images, but its move toward regulation only further proves that health and healthcare apps are here to stay.
Smartphone apps have a high rate of dropouts with 26% being used only once and 74% being discontinued by the tenth use. A CHIC survey shows that the availability of a better app (34.4%) and lack of user friendliness (32.6%) are the top reasons for discontinuation of smartphone apps. However what the survey isn’t showing is that some people do not like to be reminded that they have a health condition that needs monitoring.
Want to Manage Your Diabetes? There's an App for That by Knowledge@Wharton, the online business journal of the Wharton School.
During the first annual Connected Health Symposium at the University of Pennsylvania in April, faculty members and entrepreneurs spent a day showcasing new mobile tools that patients can use to communicate with their physicians, chart their progress reaching health goals and interact with other people who are facing similar medical challenges. This is the essence of the connected health movement -- a groundswell of mobile apps, wireless devices, and websites designed to bring patients together with the people who want to keep them healthy. The symposium ended with a provocative question posed by Ralph Muller, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System: "But do consumers want to be so connected?"
Entrepreneurs are betting the answer to that question will be "absolutely." But they're facing a host of challenges: The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is preparing to release guidelines for mobile medical apps that could require some companies to seek the agency's approval for their products before can go to market. Even if firms clear those regulatory hurdles, designing the gizmos so they appeal to tech-averse types, such as the elderly, will be far from straight forward. "I do think the big challenge, once the technology has been created and approved, is going to be focusing on behavior change in high-risk populations," notes Kevin Volpp, Wharton professor of health care management, who also spoke at the symposium. As for whether patients want to be so connected, Volpp says, "Some do and some don't, and that's part of the challenge."
The mobile and “apps” market has been growing rapidly and steadily for the past few years. With the introduction of the iPad in 2010, the tablet market is gaining attention as product value soars in many industries. Health and pharmaceuticals is one of those industries openly accepting the mobile and tablet takeover as these devices and their “apps” bring added benefit and new innovative solutions. In a follow up to last week’s post,Arithmos discusses the market and how devices are being integrated.
The pharmaceutical industry has been embracing these markets for several reasons. One of the biggest reasons is patient compliance. Patients want the “WOW Factor ” – the digital and personalized experience.
Devices such as tablets and smartphones can cut clinical trial costs as well. Setting up desktops or laptops, or even printing paper, can be more expensive than simply downloading information on a device. Using these devices also allows patients to just send information via click or an IM/SMS. With the installation of ”apps”, medical information can be downloaded instantly by doctors or Investigators.
The Mobile Revolution continues to change how industry after industry goes about day-to-day business. Yet one industry has been surprisingly slow to embrace the benefits of mobile: healthcare. Many observers find that strange, since healthcare could clearly benefit from the power of smartphones and tablets attached to the cloud.
Just three years since its launch date Apple's iPad can be credited for changing the face of modern healthcare in many ways
The iPad has also sparked a new BYOD trend in the healthcare arena, giving physicians and healthcare executives the ability to work efficiently on a device of their choice. Famed for its usability the iPad has also encourage many physicians to engage with online tools, making patient communication much more efficient.
Mass App Uptake
The birth of the iPad has also led to a huge increase in the number of mHealth apps. Before, healthcare professionals and executives had limited access to a small number of software solutions, which were accessible from either a desktop or laptop computer only. Today, solutions from EHR to financing, HR to medical information can all be accessed on the move and synced with a number of different devices.
Healthcare In The Cloud
As the iPad has risen in popularity so has the popularity of cloud-based mHealth apps and software solutions. Many hospitals and healthcare institutions now store important information securely in the cloud, so it is accessible from a number of portable devices both on and off site. This level of accessibility – while it comes with its own set of security concerns - has proven to be hugely beneficial in the healthcare sector.
As well as sharing information, accessing healthcare records and interacting with patients, the iPad has also facilitated a number of innovative patient / doctor communication systems that have helped save time, money and resources within the sector, namely the iRobot and virtual doctors offices, that allow patients to communicate with doctors face to face whilst being in different locations. This technology has also made dramatic improvements to healthcare facilities in rural locations and developing countries.
For most of time medicine was a guessing game. Doctors, or witch doctors, or shaman would inspect a patient, stir a potion and hope it would work. With some notable exceptions, modern medicine isn't so different. The data collection—blood pressure, heart rate, weight, reflexes—is largely rudimentary. We're getting by, but technology can take us so much further.
Even technology that fits in your pocket.
In the past year or two (or three) iPhones and iPads have been a fixture in doctors' offices around the world. Why carry a clipboard when you could pull up records via Wi-Fi and type the information directly into the patient's medical record? Perhaps even more powerful is the idea that these devices can be collecting data all the time.
Smartphones are incredibly powerful tools for anything as simple as data mining to something so sophisticated as measuring a patient's sleeping pattern. There are apps that can help regulate your mental health, apps that can help you keep track of what and how much you eat. There are apps that can take your blood pressure and you blood sugar. There are even apps that help you cope with aging.
While an app can't cure a disease, some of the newer, more experimental medical apps can do truly extraordinary things. This technology can not only help you feel better; it can prevent illness by spotting symptoms early on.
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