mHealth App Development Challenges, Trends, and Essential Features 2023
The pandemic of COVID-19 revealed the significance of remote access to medical data and brought multifaceted innovative mobile health solutions to life. Since that time, mHealth applications remain highly demanded, because such software solutions can improve the system of healthcare by enhancing the efficiency and quality of medical services and at the same time reducing costs and simplifying access to these services.
The market of mobile health apps continues to grow and is predicted to exceed 300 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.
Naturally, it will change according to the health trends and concerns that will fluctuate in the coming years, but if you want to enter this niche with an innovative solution, you’ll better follow the market changes. The present-day statistics claim only 11% of mHealth apps work well enough to provide users with the desired services. So, mHealth app development still has room for improvement.
But let’s delve into the abundance of health-related apps to know them better.
What Are mHealth Apps and Their Types?
Let’s first deal with the mHealth notion which stands for mobile health, it implies the healthcare services a person can access through a mobile device – a tablet, smartphone, PDA (personal digital assistant), or some wearable.
Specific software solutions allow gathering health-related data with the help of the devices and sharing it with practitioners for further analysis. You can already find thousands of healthcare apps in the market with different functionalities for both consumers and healthcare professionals.
mHealth, oriented toward patients and being a subset of eHealth, complements the actual medical practices.
So, patients and their doctors can monitor health conditions and data remotely using mobile devices and wearables. Mobile health services can offer programs for chronic conditions, make electronic records available anytime from anywhere, provide e-prescriptions, and much more. Mhealth solutions also include fitness and wellness applications, as well as a wide range of self-help solutions that may significantly enhance the standard of living and reduce the risks of lethal outcomes.
Let’s now proceed to the types of mHealth software solutions.
They can be classified in various ways, but we’ll start with more general categories, like:
- Communication systems
- Mobile wellness apps
- Clinic applications
The quality of communication between a doctor and a patient plays at times a decisive role in the results of healthcare. However, a significant proportion of hospital visits are not at all essential, and many problems can be handled with a phone call.
So, mHealth apps for communication allow a patient to call or message a doctor to receive a fast answer as to their condition. Such solutions may imply audio and video calls, virtual assistants, or chats to contact a specialist.
The pandemic showed us that such communication can be as effective as a personal visit to a doctor, but saves time for both patients and doctors and is much more convenient.
Mobile Wellness Applications
The increasing popularity of staying fit, self-care, and personal well-being results in the active growth of top-rated solutions that are focused on those healthcare spheres that do not require doctor’s engagement. They are often concerned with physical activities, mental health, nutrition, sleep, meds, vitamin intake tracking, and so on.
Such software is not connected to hospital systems, since it does not require communication with doctors. These solutions are all about the data that can be measured by the users themselves.
A user establishes some parameters or schedule according to which he should take some activity or pills, for instance, and the app notifies the user when it’s time to take some action or when there is a risk of failing the set parameter.
The advantage of mHealth app development of this type is that they don’t need HIPAA compliance, so you don’t need to deal with any regulatory aspects in the process а development.
Applications for Clinics and Medical Laboratories
Another category of MHealth apps is the solutions for medical centers, clinics, and hospitals. Such digital solutions are aimed at providing an array of healthcare services for patients remotely, and they can be of different complexity.
Anyway, even the simplest apps will allow appointments with a doctor scheduling, medical history tracking, and billing. The more advanced software will provide access to real-time data, drug prescriptions, lab tests, and health screening.
The mHealth app developers should consider patient profiling, insurance management, options to identify the nearest medical care point, and possibly even navigation for such solutions, not speaking of the protected access and regulation compliance.
mHealth systems for clinics are rather complicated, however, they allow the whole clinic staff to use the same system of interconnected data from all departments, and efficiently access and manage details. HL7 standard should be considered for mHealth clinic systems to provide data interoperability, unification, and security.
Everything from hospital waiting time management to EHR optimization is becoming efficient with digital healthcare solutions. But digitalization has its challenges too.
Challenges of mHealth App Development
Our present-day life tremendously speeds up the healthcare sector transformations. The time has come when a patient does not need to wait for days to get an appointment with a doctor but can get a regular check-up through a real-time video chat.
However, even with a considerable amount of positive changes in healthcare app development services, the challenges remain.
Security and privacy
In healthcare, data security and privacy are of utmost concern. Medical records protection and storage infrastructure should be arranged in a way it’s impossible to hack. Compliance with regulations solves the issue, but partially. However, measures should be taken to solve the problem at the stage of development.
Compliance and regulations issues
Every state has its standards and regulations in the healthcare sphere, so all of them should be considered when developing a mHealth app. In the US, your solution should comply with the HIPAA and PHI regulations and also NIST , CCPA, and GDPR rules. The latter standard, GDPR, should also be met in European Union. In Canada, you have to follow PIPEDAs and the UK NSCS website’s guidelines.
If your ambition is to launch a mHealth app globally, you should follow all the compliances, rules, and guidelines from different regions.
What is more, professional software should go through ISO certifications . Other solutions should still meet a combination of certain requirements.
Technological specifics of mobile devices
Multifaceted devices and channels have entered the space of healthcare, smartphones have been supplemented by Voice-powered devices and Smart TVs, for instance. However, the solutions designed for a specific age group should be designed to meet the needs of the targeted group to avoid or at least decrease adaptability and incompatibility issues.
Besides the challenges that one may face, let’s also discuss the modern trends that influence mHealth solutions development.
MHealth App Development Trends
Modern technology trends precondition the innovative trends in the development of mHealth applications.
Remote patient monitoring through the Internet of Things devices
Multifaceted IoT devices help to keep track of patient’s health conditions, Wearables, like smartwatches, are the first occurring to mind when speaking of IoT in mHealth. They track the users’ activity, blood pressure, saturation, heart rate, water intake, and much more. Such data is helpful and can be transferred to a doctor for further analysis. Tracking this data in an app profile can help avoid crises for patients with chronic conditions.
IoT devices can monitor the serviceability of stationary equipment in clinics.
Telemedicine through video conferencing and digital prescriptions
Face-to-face communication simplifies the delivery of services provided by doctors. With video conferencing, the possibilities for such communication have increased significantly. It results in the possibility for patients to describe the problem in more detail and for the doctor to conduct a visual examination if it’s necessary or when the patient's condition is too severe with high temperature and some rash, for instance. A video call with a specialist can then efficiently solve the problem.
More than that, face-to-face contact enhances trust between a doctor and a patient, facilitating more stable relationships further on.
Digital services today allow registering electronic prescriptions, and it allows patients to get their medications without visiting the doctor’s office.
Personalized medicine through Artificial Intelligence, gamification, and chatbots
On the one hand, AI technology can help you solve certain issues without a doctor. AI can provide patients with the necessary recommendations as to their conditions when the problem doesn’t require a doctor’s intervention, before the time of appointment comes, or possibly define a specialist to turn to the right at the moment. AI can help make diagnoses and prescriptions based on ML gathered big data.
Virtual assistants in the form of chatbots can decrease the load on doctors and also serve the purpose of reminders. They can help create and follow an individual plan of nutrition, taking medicines, exercising, or notifying about the due checkup.
Gamification may serve the same purposes of personalization and make the overall process of treatment or rehabilitation more enjoyable for the patients.
Blockchain for increased data security
Blockchain technology is known for its specific structure built with interconnected blocks that have a unique specific hashcode.
Naturally, it is one of the leading trends to be used in Healthcare to eliminate all the possible problems with data security and breaches.
Blockchain development may require investment on your part, however, it pays. Turning to experts will solve your blockchain development issues effectively and at reasonable costs.
Healthcare App Development Features
Generally, mHealth solutions can be divided into two main categories: applications for patients and doctors. The latters are usually more complicated and may also include medical education software, EHRs, e-prescription solutions, and appointment scheduling apps.
Patient app subcategories also include appointment scheduling apps, healthy lifestyle solutions, and medication intake reminders.
However, most of these solutions require a set of standard features and they are the following:
The feature allows monitoring of the patient's health condition and vital signs for taking timely measures and consultation when it’s necessary.
Scheduling and reminders
The feature of scheduling may help the patients drink water, take medicines or keep to their daily calorie intake more effectively. In such a way, the users can keep better track of their health goals and at the same time, it facilitates the development of the next feature.
Patient info database
Medical institutions mostly use this function, the caregivers can then access patients’ medical history, prescriptions, reports, and details as to their condition in real-time.
This feature works well for healthy lifestyle solutions that include training tracking, and it’s an essential feature for the emergency side of the healthcare system. In-built maps can help find doctors and hospitals nearby whenever there is a need and the patient is far from the primary location.
This feature is a must-have for healthcare solutions for patients, especially with chronic conditions, they should have an opportunity to request an appointment with their doctor. At the same time, doctors may get a holistic view of the appointments scheduled for a day.
It also helps to eliminate the chaos of waiting room scheduling.
COVID-19 showed the world the importance and criticality of remote medical assistance. The necessity to connect with doctors when patients were limited to their homes came to the surface during the pandemic. But today this functionality of real-time text, voice, and video chats is already inevitable for mHeals applications.
Mobile payment gateway integrations of various kinds, the more, the better, enable patients to conveniently pay not only for their treatment but also for insurance. Net banking, digital wallets, debit/credit cards, and other possible options should be considered. The integration should also support access to documentation and bill copies.
Ratings and reviews
Nowadays, hospitals and doctors are multiple in every city, and reviews and rating feature helps patients find the specialists they can trust.
Cloud integration is a necessity in the sphere of healthcare. Providers can then store patients’ data in a secure cloud infrastructure.
Reporting and analytics
This feature is often realized in the form of a dashboard for the stakeholders to track their patient count, finances, and other crucial factors.
Stfalcon’s Experience in mHealth Development
Stfalcon’s team created iOS and Android versions of a mobile application for the service of making appointments with doctors. Medics can set up profiles and get notifications when a patient books an appointment. The detailed user stories from our client allowed us to quickly start working on the mobile interface prototype to create a smooth experience for patients.
It was a challenging task, yet we managed to build an interactive prototype and conducted user testing. Based on it, we painlessly introduced the necessary changes and proceeded to design the app.
For the Android interface, single for all versions, we used native libraries with reverse compatibility. In iOS development , we used some of the new features and standard libraries and elements to avoid possible problems when using third-party solutions.
MHealth is increasingly used as a tool in modern healthcare and there is a variety of solutions that help obtain useful data on people with various medical conditions. So, if you intend to enter this field as a new player, you should choose the type and form of an application to develop. If you trust your new product development to an expert team like Stfalcon, you should only decide what you want, and we’ll cope with the process no matter how complicated the task is. We like challenges, so let’s discuss your idea and create a new cutting-edge mHealtn app to solve some burning issues in the sector.