How Mobile App Development Has Brought A Revolution In The Healthcare Industry
How the medical community uses access to increase access for all.
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How can a smartphone app possibly help medical practitioners when their goal is to analyze the symptoms and recommend suitable treatment?
Per my previous understanding, I was not flexible with the idea of how a healthcare app could benefit doctors and other healthcare professionals to treat patients. I thought, until now, that the medical sector should have been left untouched by developers.
Thoughts like, "what if a mobile app does not work one day and the doctor is unable to treat a patient without it," always hindered my opinion about combining software and medicine.
In medical terms, what I feel is called a bit of paranoia. Perhaps it’s time for me to drop my delusions and look at what is happening around me — the progress in healthcare app development.
You may also like: Guide to Creating a Successful App.
Mobile apps for healthcare industry, or mHealth, is a boon for a staggering number of healthcare professionals, including doctors, dentists, phlebotomists, nurses, radiologists, physiotherapists and almost every person associated with the wellness of others. In practical terms, a medical reference app with clinical data on medicines, symptoms, diagnostics, diseases and patient management is one of the best things that we have achieved for our smartphones.
Let’s see some actual scenarios that explain –
Benefits of Healthcare Apps and Healthcare IT Solutions
1. Retention of Medical Data
Hospitals, nurses, and patients can instantly retrieve medical data (patient’s health condition update, prescriptions, reports, etc.) that is not only useful for Outpatient Department (OPD) treatments but also helps medical professionals to quickly access a patient’s medical history in order to make swift and appropriate decisions in emergency cases.
This type of application helps doctors and patients to update medical history and keep all the records in one place.
Example apps: HealthVault, Medical Records App.
2. Hospital Management
Hospital management systems and healthcare mobility solutions using high-tech cloud systems for enterprises are on the rise. With seamless sharing of resources between different teams in a medical facility (front desk, nurses, doctors, emergency response teams, paramedics, premises management, etc.), the concept of interoperability with cloud tech is picking up velocity among traditional healthcare setups, especially in the developing nations.
Example: HospiLogix, MediXcel EMR.
3. Patient Engagement and Remote Healthcare
For faraway places, the availability of Patient Engagement and Remote Healthcare portals is a boon in a number of ways, such as:
- Accessing healthcare information from anywhere.
- Interacting with healthcare providers.
- Scheduling appointments.
- Reading educational materials.
- Messaging the attending doctor securely.
- Ordering prescription refills.
- Making payments, and a lot of other features.
Example: Virtual Practice®.
4. Home Sample Collection and Reports Online
Now, this one is a "hero" idea and something I very much endorse.
If done with care, I think the aggregator model of collecting blood and other samples from home and then delivering them to a pathology lab of your choice is a lifesaver.
Home sample collection is not a new concept. But an app that connects diagnostics labs, motorbike phlebotomists, and patients is.
Trending in some countries, all you have to do is to pick a suitable date and time, select a laboratory/price of the test, and then pay up. A phlebotomist would arrive with his/her equipment at your doorsteps, collect the sample from you and a couple of other patients nearby, and then finally deliver the specimens to their destination labs. The entire process is trackable, affordable, extremely convenient, and makes the lab reports available to view and download within a mobile application itself.
Note: They often retain diagnostic reports for a very long time, which can be accessed on the same mobile app anytime you want.
Example: 1mg.com and its app
5. Medicine and Medical Equipment Delivery
Similar to "sample collection on wheels," the aggregator model of connecting pharmacies, medical equipment dealers, patients, and delivery guys is beneficial for patients as well as healthcare professionals.
Online pharmacies have given birth to a competitive marketplace that not only reduces the price of prescription medicines but is also able to list generics medicines — a much cheaper alternative to branded medicines that most of us do not know.
Example: 1mg.com and its app.
From locating the nearest Automated External Defibrillators to an extensive medical database, some mobile apps are proving to be quite advantageous for EMS providers in the field. With the touch of a button, paramedics are able to access basic life support guidelines, first aid and CPR protocols instantly on their smartphones.
The paramedics are also equipped with life-saving tools like an app-based personal interpreter, event logger, dopamine drop rate calculator, emergency services radio frequencies, etc.
Example apps: MedScape, OmniMedix Medical Calculator.
7. Insurance and Claims Processing
For a better customer experience and seamless claim processing, the overall insurance process is significantly improved with the advancements in mobile app development. With the advent of aggregators and marketplaces for policies, an average consumer is able to keep all types of insurances in one place (i.e. a single app that maintains all your insurance and claims records with live tracking).
Example: Covered California, GoCompare (UK).
8. Healthcare and Fitness Apps
Fitness apps are turning out to be an excellent healthcare companion for our generation. Combined with wearable devices, these apps provide step-by-step workout instructions and customized routines, along with tracking your daily activities. Many top-notch brands offer all-in-one fitness and nutrition apps that include functionalities like tailor-made diet plans, calorie-count reminders, tips, active minutes a day, and a variety of useful recommendations.
9. Educational Apps for Doctors and Patients
The market of mHealth app development has already crossed $100 Billion, and the medical reference apps enjoy their own sizeable share in this phenomenal industry. An educational app helps the doctors to become a better professional in many ways, such as:
- Providing medical practitioners with accurate information instantly, reducing the need for going through heavy textbooks for knowledge.
- Managing patient visit times effectively and providing a high standard of treatment.
- Avoiding mix-ups by minimizing chunks of patient files and keeping all the documents in an easy-to-understand mobile/web app, i.e., electronic format.
The patents also benefit from medical news, expert opinions, comprehensive drug and disease information, and various other resources to stay healthy.
10. Medical Apps Serving a Specific Purpose
The emergence of mobile technologies in the healthcare sector has also opened up the doors for newer innovations which were unrealistic a decade ago. Mobile apps to serve a definite function to assist patients and doctors are increasingly becoming popular these days.
An illustration would be a mobile app (like StrivePD) that makes it easy to manage a condition. Another example would be a mobile app designed for emergency room physicians (e.g. PEPID) to make swift decisions and assist patients as quickly as possible.
Example: StrivePD for Parkinson’s Disease.
To be honest, I am not a fan of doctor consultations online. However, the same technology often comes to the rescue of many, especially in scenarios where a doctor can’t be located nearby. Reliability on apps alone for emergency measures does not seem to be a fair idea to me. But like I said, only a doctor would know (which I am not) about the right steps to save a life.
Instead of visiting a doctor, diagnosing and treating yourself with the help of self-gathered information from clinical reference apps is absolutely a bad idea.
Nevertheless, a few adverse points are easily overshadowed by the colossal capabilities that the mobile application industry has in store for the medical sector.
Published at DZone with permission of Richa Vaish. See the original article here.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.