Businesses have been talking about mHealth solutions since 2009 when wide adoption of smartphones, tablets, and wearables reached a critical mass.
The term mHealth was coined in 2006 by Robert Istepanian to describe “emerging mobile communications and network technologies for healthcare”.
Almost two decades later, the mobile healthcare industry is getting ready for a wave of big changes. There are all kinds of signs:
- Apple and Samsung have introduced a wide array of innovative mHealth features
- Blockchain technology advances
- Quantified Self movement and abundance of fitness & wellness mobile apps
Moreover, the global mHealth market size is projected to reach $246.82 billion by 2025. What might be driving this growth? Well, a variety of factors.
Rising concern for personal health and increases of chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, and obesity are all contributing factors to the mHealth app market expansion.
With such rising popularity, business leaders have also become intrigued and are excited about the benefits of mHealth tools. So, let’s take a closer look at this technology and uncover why it might be so appealing to end users and medical organizations alike.
Consumer-Focused mHealth Apps
First, let’s establish, what is mHealth? In short, the term translates to “mobile health” and refers to applications and other connected devices that might be used in healthcare for monitoring someone’s well being.
Often, mHealth apps are simply used by consumers in their everyday life to keep track of exercises, heart rate, steps taken, and the like. However, they can also be used by patient-centric organizations for remote patient monitoring to improve preventative measures and even diagnostics.
By and large, mHealth innovations require a solid app-powered framework. No wonder even such tech luminaries as Apple and Samsung rely on their own mHealth apps. These mobile applications work as hubs for health-related data.
In fact, the data accumulated by the mobile health apps is the cornerstone for the modern consumer-focused mHealth solutions. Current big data technologies allow for comprehensive analysis of massive health information with the aid of artificial intelligence algorithms and machine learning.
According to findings by Rock Health, a venture fund and research firm dedicated to digital health, Q3 2022 was quite impressive for digital health, with funding approaching $9.6B.
On the chart below you can see that eHealth businesses focusing on mental health, oncology, and cardiovascular areas got most of the funding.
Source: Rock Health
Despite such success of the consumer-focused mHealth apps market, it’s important to remember that medical organizations can benefit from the data these solutions gather and process as well.
After all, if you can improve the quality of services you deliver to patients through remote medical surveillance and analytics, you’d be remiss not to take that opportunity.
Types of mHealth Solutions
Next, let’s take a look at the types of mobile solutions designed to promote health. First, all applications can be divided into two categories from the user perspective. It’s not hard to tell then that those groups are patients or non-professional users and healthcare and pharmaceutical organizations.
However, if we consider the functionality and areas of use, then we’ll get another picture. Below, we outline several most common types of applications available on the market today. Many of us are well-familiar with all of them, except for the last one.
Healthy Living Apps
Paired with IoT solutions, these applications allow for the collection and analysis of some core physical metrics like blood pressure, heart rate, or oxygen level.
Designed to help track daily physical activity, wearables like fitness bands and smartwatches help us support a healthy lifestyle and take better care of our bodies.
Remote Monitoring Apps
Mobile and Internet of Things technologies blend again to form another group of solutions that help both healthcare providers and patients monitor health. It’s not always necessary for a patient to go to the hospital or stay there to get medical assistance.
With the use of RPM apps, doctors can monitor vital physical parameters, analyze them, and communicate with patients online to consult on further treatment.
As a consequence, medical professionals have more tools to monitor and even prevent some health conditions and diseases and ensure a better patient experience.
Reference apps make it possible for users to perform self-diagnostics either based on collected health data or with the help of a healthcare professional that can provide a brief consultation right in the app. If there’s a need, the app will also help schedule an appointment with the right physician.
On top of that, users can access information on medications for early symptoms, pharmacies’ locations and drug availability there, and even get the delivery of over-the-counter medications.
Mental Health Solutions
Nowadays, mental wellbeing has become as important as physical. It’s no wonder since last year people ranked mental health higher than cancer when talking about their top health concerns. Obviously, mobile apps that help treat mental-related issues are quickly gaining more popularity.
They help users track their mood and reduce the level of stress or anxiety. These applications can also send alerts if any disturbing signs appear and there’s a need to see a doctor.
There is another type of applications that is designed exclusively for healthcare providers and professionals to help them deliver care services. These apps are usually referred to as medical apps.
They include practice management apps, medical billing solutions, care coordination, etc. The difference is that medical apps must adhere to industry regulations and comply with medical evidence.
Benefits of Using mHealth Apps
With all being said above, it is easy to highlight the advantages that mHealth applications bring to the healthcare field and users in particular. First, these solutions elevate the patient experience, improve diagnosis and disease management, help prevent some health conditions and provide early treatment.
In general, they largely enhance the quality of patient care and contribute to increasing wellbeing awareness. The list can go on. Yet, let’s briefly outline below the common positive sides of using mHealth applications for users:
- Better control over health conditions
- More personalized treatment and care services
- Enhanced access to healthcare
- Possibility to schedule remote consultations
- Improved medication adherence
- More efficient spending on healthcare services
Current Trends in Mobile Solutions for Healthcare
The adoption of advanced technologies in recent years has been ubiquitous across many industries, healthcare included. Thus it’s no surprise that their influence in this sector encompasses mobile development as well.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, IoT, big data, and VR and AR have already paved the way for advances in mobile health app development. As far as it seems, we can be sure that they won’t cease to bring new opportunities and reinforce mHealth solutions during the next few years.
From a slightly another perspective, the use of these emerging technologies made it possible to change the entire approach to how we receive and deliver medical care services. It has provided the ground for another set of trends that relate to health solutions.
Without going into too much detail since a lot has already been said, we list several trends that will keep affecting the growth of mHealth industry:
- Rise of healthcare consumerization
- Increase in wearables adoption
- Popularity of the RPM approach
- Better health awareness
- Growth of smartphone use among older adults
Users’ mHealth Data Belongs to Who?
The data that mHealth solutions accumulate is something that everybody craves: healthcare organizations, drug manufacturers, regulators, government, and last but not least the end users.
Not being able to fully control your own data, especially one that is as valuable as healthcare data, provides too little incentive for the users to flock to mHealth applications. After all, it does feel a little like being a lab rat for big-boy companies.
Businesses are constantly seeking new ways to attract target audience to use their mHealth solutions. The most recent initiatives include innovative blockchain-based mHealth solutions that stimulate consumers by offering various rewards for engaging in sports activities.
mHealth Solutions: Trend-Setting Apps
The recent years introduced us to a whole new class of mHealth applications that put the user front and center of this health data equation by giving them more control over their data. This, however, is not the most progressive feature of these apps.
The new thing is paying or rewarding users to get them to use your mHealth app and feed the app with their healthcare-related data.
It’s not like these mHealth solutions will make users rich, not even in their lifetime, but it definitely looks like these incentivizing, health-oriented apps get phenomenal interest from the crowd. Let’s take a closer look at some of these mHealth solutions.
Sweatcoin, a London-based start-up pays users in cryptocurrency for the steps they register within a Sweatcoin mobile app: 1000 steps equals 0.95 sweatcoins.
You can spend your hard-earned coins on a wide array of goods and services ranging from yoga classes to sports shoes, iPhones, and Apple Watches. You can also opt to donate to partnering charities.
“The team at Sweatcoin have experienced phenomenal growth since launch… and have created a new, powerful ‘Movement Economy’ that rewards people…”
— Reshma Sohoni, Co-Founder of Seedcamp
Sweatcoin is currently working on expanding their geography and have recently added a blockchain solution that allows users to convert sweatcoins into a cryptocurrency called SWEAT.
Evidation goes a step further. Just as Sweatcoin, the company operates off the mobile apps that record users’ activities through integration with a plethora of fitness apps. However, Evidation users get payments to their PayPal accounts or via direct deposits.
Apparently, achievers can get paid for such activities as yoga, meditation, and healthy sleep in addition to the number of steps they make. The service currently boasts almost 5 million active members and seems to be steadily gaining popularity.
Additionally, the technology and services company helps individuals and the world’s most advanced healthcare companies understand and influence everyday behaviors by performing health-related research.
In fact, Evidation’s customers may receive bonus offers for participating in the studies and research by Evidation Studies. Currently, the company conducts research in Migraines, Diabetes, and Hypothyroidism, to name just a few.
However, there is a caveat. Users have to first spend money on STEPN’s NFT sneaker before they can begin earning the platform’s native tokens as a reward.
Backed by well-known giants like Sequoia Capital and Binance, the “move-to-earn” startup has actually raised $5 million in a seed funding round at the beginning of this year. Thus, clearly showcasing venture capital interest in incentivizing mHealth applications.
mHealth Data Challenge
One major issue all the above-mentioned apps address is data interoperability. mHealth market is very segmented. There are so many app providers offering a specific set of features and lacking other essential parameters that it may be a real challenge for a newcomer to pick, let’s say, an application for running.
Usually, there’s also a focus on gathering some particular health information. While Apple and Samsung manage this to a certain degree with their Health apps that strive to operate as the hubs for users’ health data, a lot of personal information remains scattered among all sorts of apps:
- Health education and awareness
- Diagnostic and treatment
- Lifestyle improvement
- Point of care diagnostic
- Disease and epidemic outbreak tracking
- Remote health monitoring
- Pills and medicines reminders
- Patient portals
There is little incentive for mHealth service providers to integrate their solutions as every stakeholder is interested in monetizing users’ data. Blockchain-powered initiatives might be a good attempt at liberating this health data and distributing it to all involved parties. This will ensure steady progress for health care where everyone benefits.
Time to Map Out Your mHealth Strategy
Looking back at 2022 results in digital health funding, this year certainly promises to be ripe with healthcare innovations as well. Chances are, a large chunk of these innovations will come from mHealth development empowered by the blockchain technology.
So, no matter if you’d like to build your own consumer-focused mHealth app that revolutionizes the market or are interested in acquiring a tool for enterprise-use — reach out to us for a free consultation. Velvetech will gladly assist you with mHealth solutions development and share expertise in blockchain and mobile apps.