Our world is subject to change that is inevitable. Regardless of the impact of COVID-19, the 21st-century’s third decade was meant to change the way we care about ourselves one way or another. The advent of progressive telecommunication technologies, coupled with the swift development of IoT, empowers people and healthcare organizations to shift from reactive medicine to proactive. The so-called mHealth, which stands for mobile healthcare, is the latest hit with mobile health app developers, as the demand for progressive healthcare rises exponentially. Today’s folks have no time to waste commuting to the hospitals, sitting in queues, and waiting impatiently for diagnosis. mHealth manages to set them free of this homage, thus ensuring the healthcare organizations can make the most by applying a bit of mobile magic. Let’s plunge deeper into this topic, as there is undoubtedly a lot of fruitful insights into mHealth, its pros, cons, and the future that is waiting for it.
A Good Beginning Makes a Good Present
It seems like the use of mobile technology in healthcare was as easy to foresee as a morning fog after nocturnal precipitations. Yet, it took quite some time for us, as a society, to embrace the potential of mobile technology when it comes to guarding our health. It all started in April 2014, when the European Commission launched a public hearing into mobile technology usage within the framework of refining healthcare practices in the European Union.
All the input from the stakeholders involved was gathered during the session that took place between 10 April and 3 July 2014, as the Commission came up with the initial documentation regulating the legal aspect of mHealth for distribution platforms, software vendors, and medical devices manufacturers. mHealth was here with us long before the COVID-19 pandemic has sprung robust discussion about its relevance. On the one hand, the mHealth industry is only seven years old. On the other hand, it has taken some major steps forward over those years and is now banging hard on the doors of obsolete healthcare organizations, ousting them from the competition. Today’s customers want healthcare to be swift, efficient, and proactive, and mHealth ticks those boxes off.
What Is mHealth and How It Differs from Telehealth?
One of the major dilemmas facing today’s healthcare industry is that many people tend to confuse telehealth and mHealth. We get it, telehealth is an extensively broad domain, but let’s first define what mHealth is. Put bluntly, mHealth is telehealth’s subdomain, yet there is a particular specification to it. The World Health Organization has recently come up with an official definition of mHealth, claiming that it is “the usage of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives.” The National Institutes of Health found coherence with WHO’s definition, but for one part, adding a bit of specification to the “health objective part” defining it as “health outcomes, healthcare services, and health research.”
Yet, let’s get back to our ultimate question and shed the light of truth upon the difference between telehealth and mHealth. While telehealth refers to all the cases of healthcare services provision via the application of modern technology, mHealth boils down to outpatient healthcare services and self-care via mobile technology. That is, mHealth is all about consumer-centric technologies and gadgets (tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, etc.) that enable them to keep track of their health data and have it interpreted by the software inside or a medical professional on the opposite side of the app.
Minimizing the need for direct interaction with a physician by taking care of oneself and letting the healthcare organizations keep track of their patients’ state remotely is what mHealth is all about. Its primary focus is on obtaining information instantly and thus help both parties prevent and diagnose diseases swiftly and efficiently. Those wondering why mHealth has become so popular nowadays, you should know that back in 2015, as per Pew Research Center, almost half of Americans have already had a tablet device, while nine out of every ten have had a smartphone. We’ll certainly talk more about how the mHealth industry will grow in the years to come, but now, let’s focus on the primary fields of mHealth application.
How Is mHealth Used?
It might seem that we have already answered that question when defining mHealth and explaining how it is different from telehealth. Nonetheless, the scope of mHealth application is abundantly broad, as mobile health app development is nowadays reaching far beyond the already-known areas of implementation. As of today, mHealth finds explicit application in:
- Education & Awareness. Have you ever received a pop-up notification from your smartphone saying that the sound levels in your earphones are too high? That’s mHealth apps at their very best, making sure you keep track of the factors impacting your health. To be honest, this is quite a hackneyed example of how mHealth advances healthcare education and awareness, as there are many more instances to mention, such as sex education apps, fitness apps, nutrition apps, etc.
- Diagnostic & Treatment Support. mHealth lands a helping hand to medical personnel and provides them with the resources needed to access the latest information on clinical guidelines, analyze data, get diagnostic support, collaborate with colleagues, and interact with patients. Refining the medical personnel’s operations is another critical mHealth aspect that eventually improves the life quality of patients.
- Remote Patient Monitoring. Allowing doctors to monitor patient’s health is one of the most important application areas of mHealth, as it caters to mHealth successful performance of its primary mission: preventive telemedicine via mobile technology.
- Chronic Disease Management. One of the major obstacles today’s healthcare system experiences on its way to efficiency is the redundant check-ups of patients with chronic diseases; quite inconvenient, to be fair, for the patients themselves. Remote tracking of those patients’ conditions saves time and energy for both doctors and patients while proving to be highly effective in dealing with, for example, chronic cardiovascular diseases.
- Disease & Pandemic Outbreak Tracking. The COVID-19 pandemic has fostered the tempo of applying mHealth to mitigating the consequences of the already rampant disease. The latest research on the mHealth apps’ contribution to fighting coronavirus showed that governmental organizations ordered more than 67% of those apps, as they proved to be efficient in managing citizens’ exposure to COVID-19, monitoring the infected patients’ health, conducting research studies, and combating the pandemic spread.
- Healthcare Supply Chain Management. The overall process of healthcare services delivery requires many grounds covered, and when it comes to developing countries, the situation is quite lamentable. A study involving 3690 children diagnosed with diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia showcased that mHealth interventions have positively impacted the treatment process. The patients were broken down into two groups, and the one administering mHealth solutions registered an 18% improvement in supportive supervision and a 21% increase in diagnosis speed. What is more, a 2-3 fold increase in the proportion of CHWs receiving the supplies ordered was detected.
- Medical Personnel Training & Communication. mHealth can become pivotal in training and communication for frontline healthcare workers (FHW). In accordance with Cyberleninka, they face the “lack of appropriate means to collect data, inadequate access to training and reference materials, poor communication with peers or supervisors to handle situations that are beyond their skills, and difficulty in scheduling household visits and follow-up appointments with patients.” mHealth solutions can make up for each of the training, analysis, and communication scarcities FHWs face in their daily practices, thus improving the quality of care for patients.
The mHealth application fields are numerous, as the industry is gradually becoming an integral component of various healthcare-related business sub-domains, including fitness, self-care, women’s health, etc. Every healthcare mobile app development company is nowadays trying to make the most of the demand for mHealth products, which is outrageous due to the mHealth products’ capability of creating irreplicable value.
Where mHealth Creates Value and Revenue
The data by Statista shows that mHealth will be growing exponentially, mainly because so many industries have started to make use of it. As you can see, general disease management is only one of the many business domains that are going to tap into mHealth potential. Modern customers are concerned about lifestyle management, fitness, medication adherence, etc., and they want it all within their smartphones. The world goes mobile, and the healthcare industry cannot remain idle in this endeavor of moving faster and coming closer to its customers. Hence, we can expect a rampant growth of the mHealth sector by 2025 fostered by the healthcare clients’ expanded list of requirements for the healthcare providers.
Regardless of the fact that mHealth is astonishingly popular nowadays, it is of the utmost importance to ruminate upon ьHealth’s distant future. What is going to happen with the industry after 2025? Is it not going to shrink in five years after all the delight about it fades away and becomes nothing more than a matter of people’s daily routine? No matter what the opponents might have to say, It seems like the future looks bright. The folks both on the giving and receiving ends of healthcare are looking forward to mHealth becoming ubiquitous. Let’s dwell more on it, shall we?
mHealth is going to soar high, as the new market trends will appear and the industry’s monetization is going to gain momentum in the long-term perspective. The latest data by Grand View Research shows that both fitness and medical apps, the two most popular with the mHealth customers, are going to be a hit with the healthcare industry in the years to come. As a matter of fact, with these two types of apps succeeding, mHealth’s wider scope of products simply cannot fail to reach the glass ceiling of income maximization charts.
The U.S. mHealth apps market size, by type, 2016 – 2028 (USD Million)
Well, there is nothing to be surprised about here, as mHealth keeps on finding new areas of application daily, thus sprucing up the mHealth initiatives around the world. For example, according to a Booz & Company report, those are not only patients who make the most of mHealth usage. Physicians themselves perceive mHealth as a helping hand to reach for when it comes to boosting their performance, quality, and convenience. The infographic says it all.
As you can see, mHealth has proven to be effective for both patients and medical personnel. It grows on the clients’ side because it prevents them from the redundant run-around to hospitals and physicians while letting the physicians pay more time to actually treating patients instead of organizing the treatment process.
What is more, mHealth has introduced a plethora of new ways to optimize remote quality care. For example, SMS alert campaigns aimed at impacting the patients’ behavior have turned out to be statistically more successful than radio and TV adverts, as they seem to be more individualized.
Harnessing mHealth is a step to take when you’re looking to refine the patients’ experience and make sure that your personnel are satisfied and thus utterly productive. Universal adoption of mHealth leaves us no other choice but to try and predict the trends that will spring among mobile health app developers.
The Trends to Expect
We can expect a whole list of mHealth-associated trends emerging in the nearest future due to an immense demand for mobile healthcare solutions coming from both patients and doctors. The expectations are high, so the supply must meet the demand halfway with the neoteric offers made to every stakeholder involved in the healthcare delivery process.
- Home-based monitoring systems;
- Emergency response systems;
- Refined medical HRM systems;
- Synchronous and asynchronous diagnostic and support solutions;
- Pharmaceutical supply chain integrity control systems;
- Health extension services;
- Healthcare education/mLearning incentives;
- Health promotions apps;
- Refined chronic care management solutions;
- Individualized life style control and support solutions;
- Point-of-care clinician support systems;
- Advanced training and communication for medical personnel;
mHealth Pros & Cons
Regardless of how cloudless everything might appear, there are actually some drawbacks when it comes to talking about mHealth. Yet, it seems that the benefits of mHealth products overshadow them. Let’s have a closer look at the pros and cons of mHealth product development for your healthcare business.
There is a lot more pros and cons to mHealth, but what seems to be a con for one company is actually an advantage for your business to make use of. For example, the low quality of mHealth apps available for download leaves the opportunity open for you to create a reliable one and win the customers’ loyalty. Yet, you will need a reliable software vendor to design a refined mHealth solution, as it takes both experience and innovative thinking. The rest is up to you as both patients and doctors are ready to test your product out.
As you’ve finished reading this article, your smartwatch might have detected a slight deviation in your heart rate and showed you a pop-up notification urging you to stand up and move a little. Or it might not, but you will surely move today, and your smartphone will measure the distance you will cover to present you with monthly movement statistics eventually. mHealth is already here even if you think that you have nothing in common with it. It has penetrated every single scope of the healthcare industry, as the industry itself has been changed immensely. Even a run-of-the-mill healthcare mobile app development company now knows that the end-users, just like the healthcare providers, want to change their healthcare habits. Unlocking the potential of preventive healthcare driven by mobile data is the strategy to win the business competition. It will allow you to provide your customers with the best healthcare services possible while keeping your personnel satisfied. Is there a better success formula? We don’t think so!