HealthTech

What are mHealth Apps? [A Glimpse of the Possibilities]

May 26, 2022 • 268 Views • 13 min read

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Bohdan Vasylkiv

CEO & Co-Founder

Previously, we have partially discussed the health apps, which is relative to the mHealth topic. Today we are going to dot the i's and cross the t's within the mobile health solutions.

It is not a secret, that every modern person has a smartphone. Some of us use its capabilities for healthcare purposes.

Digitalization already spread all over our lives. It is harder to name the industries that are not represented online. Healthcare is not an exception. Healthcare management, medical data sharing, or even patient status tracking - all of these routine processes are performed online now. Health apps are one of the main results of the digital health care system. So, what are mHealth apps and what can they do?

What Are MHealth Apps?

The letter “m” stands for mobile. Obviously, these apps are created for mobile phones. Their main purpose is to create comfortable conditions not only for the physicians but for regular users as well, using modern platforms.

Actually, mobile health apps along with this industry are part of the eHealthcare sector. Simply speaking, eHealth is digitalized healthcare institution and practices. It includes not only patient status monitoring and treatment but also various handy features such as paperless documentation with the possibility of medical data sharing, or analysis of health parameters.

The accessibility of mobile devices creates the opportunity to increase the targeted audience as well as improve healthcare services. For example, mHealth software can help to improve telemedicine conditions, on the same level as telehealth apps. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that there is a slight difference between these two terms and they are not interchangeable.

As a matter of fact, telemedicine is a way of communication between physician and patient at a distance with the accessibility of treatment. It could be provided with various communication tools such as mobile networks, the Internet, or using various applications.

The mHealth apps themselves are just software that enables different useful features and opportunities for their users. So, in addition to communication, they also can provide diverse usage purposes.

The Usage Possibilities

Eventually, there are no less than 2 different types of users: medical staff and patients (regular users). Therefore, there are at least two ways to use these applications.

Medical Purposes

First of all, these apps are often used by different healthcare organizations in order to simplify and automatize various routine processes. As was mentioned before, mHealth software provides a lot of useful features that help medical workers to better communicate and more effectively do their jobs.

At the moment, the main usage purpose of such applications is medical care management. They have become a great tool for managing and medical data sharing. Moreover, some of them can be integrated into MPMS or other similar systems. Also, they can be combined with medical software in order to enable more specific features. In addition, some mHealth apps can make a standalone medical device out of the smartphone. For example, some applications enable measuring blood pressure or heartbeat using a mobile device’s camera.

The integration into the MPMS creates great possibilities for more secure medical data sharing. As a result, the mHealth apps can become a full-fledged informational platform for physicians and other medical personnel. It allows medical condition tracking, remote patient monitoring, maintenance of EHR (electronic health records), medical images using sensor technologies, and receiving alerts.

Such integration can provide the doctors’ online appointments or ordering medicine online implementations.

According to the foregoing, mHealth apps can be used as an instrument for telemedicine. It is possible to use them as a healthcare management platform for online patient care or for tracking patient workflows online.

Individual Health Systems

As a matter of fact, such apps are used not only by professionals but by regular people as well. For example, various fitness and diet tracking applications are mHealth apps too.

Healthcare applications provide different features that correspond requests of possible audiences. Obviously, such routine apps appeared before the professional ones. The explanation is simple:

  1. Mostly, this type of app is used for individual purposes. Moreover, most of them are about staying fit, they are not used for full-fledged medical treatment. This is why the user can download the app and start using it. At the same time, the more specific ones are used for therapy and communication, this is why both the physician and the patient have to have the same app downloaded. In addition, the app has to provide various functionality such as communication possibilities, data recording and storing, etc.
  2. Healthy lifestyle apps are less limited and have fewer requirements. Clearly, professional healthcare management requires medical data gathering and sharing. This is why there are special security measures and standards in order to save confidential information about patients. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) protects the privacy and security of the patient’s private information. Therefore, specialized mHealth Apps are required to get verified before being published online.

Actually, some “routine” healthcare applications provide semi-professional features. For example, they can be used to make doctors' online appointments or for ordering medicine online as well. However, such features require additional conditions. For example, to embody doctors' online appointments function the app must be approved by medical institutions, for instance, hospitals, or at least used by healthcare professionals.

The rest of the healthy lifestyle apps are used for simplifying well-being improvement.

MHealth Apps Pros And Cons

Of course, mobile health applications have plenty of advantages and drawbacks. In order to decide whether it is worth developing such an app, it is better to consider its strengths and weaknesses.

mHealth.jpeg

Why use the mHealth Apps?

It is comfortable. First of all, it is very comfortable having such an app near at hand. It helps to faster deal with various issues that may occur. For example, doctors' online appointments feature allows to stay home and see a doctor if the user feels sick.

Such a function has proven its usefulness during the COVID pandemic. In fact, the patients that had symptoms similar to the covid could stay at home and get needed help online, avoiding crowds and the possible spreading of the disease. Moreover, thanks to the doctors' online appointments feature there is no need to visit the hospital physically without an actual need.

It is online. Most of the needed processes could be done in-app. Therefore, mHealth apps can be used as telemedicine platforms, allowing online patient care in cases, when the doctor can’t reach the patient in person.

For instance, some apps provide patient workflow tracking. It allows not only to check the treatment progress but can help to recover after traumas or incidents by creating training courses for the patients. Hence, they can keep practicing at home without the doctor’s physical supervision.

Why not use the mHealth Apps?

Security Policies. In fact, most mHealth drawbacks are related to private information storing and sharing. Most such apps are free. Nevertheless, they have to be monetized in order to keep functioning. This is why some of them are selling private information to the third-parties. According to the BMJ’s research, approximately 4% of inspected apps were transmitting personal data to outsiders. Unfortunately, most of the available applications do not meet the requirements and standards. The security issue is one of the main weaknesses of the mHealth apps.

Incompatibility with other devices. These apps can be integrated into the Medical Practise Management Systems. Actually, it is not a hundred percent chance. Given the potential security breach danger, it is obvious that not all hospitals or other medical institutions will take the chances. Even if these apps are very comfortable and useful, the possible risk outweighs it. So the only way to play the integration card is to make sure the developed app meets all safety requirements and standards such as HIPPA.

Nevertheless, even if your app is 100% safe, there is a risk that it can’t be integrated into the medical system. Actually, despite the development pace and innovations used in the healthcare industry nowadays, there are a lot of medical systems and devices, that are outdated and cannot be combined with modern mobile technologies.

Summary

Eventually, the mHealth industry is obviously going to grow and improve. Even if it has some very significant drawbacks at the moment, they will be dealt with in the nearest future. For example, the incompatibility will be resolved over time, when the obsolete medical devices and technologies will be replaced by more modern ones. The issue with the security policies can be easily resolved by creating new laws and monitoring systems or software. Actually, eHealthcare is already beginning to be regulated by the state, for example, Helsi.me and similar platforms are being monitored by the Ukrainian government.

The number of advantages of mHealth prevails over the number of its drawbacks. Access on the go feature allows doing various time-consuming processes such as online patient care or ordering medicine online just in a few clicks. Moreover, it is worth mentioning that most of these drawbacks are related to professional medical mobile applications, which are only a part of the mHealth industry. The other part consists of healthy lifestyle apps, that face usual mobile app issues, such as development cost or monetization. This is why the mHealth sphere is worth considering.

Our development team is willing to help to make the right decision. We can answer all the possible questions, create the roadmap or develop the app you want.

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