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Healthcare via an app

10th September 2019

‘There’s an app for that’ was a popular and successful marketing campaign for Apple back in 2009. Now, 10 years on, it has never been truer. Apps exist to control your central heating, order your weekly groceries and there are even apps that link to your camera-enabled doorbell. Smartphone Apps are ubiquitous with no sign of slowing down.

You may only think of fitness apps when talking about technology that improves your health as dedicated smartphone applications seeking to deal with health issues are not as well known.

Despite not being as universally recognised as Fitbit, Strava or MyFitnessPal, the market for mobile technology in healthcare is projected to be worth $60bn by next year according to leading B2B researchers marketsandmarkets. This figure assumes that mobile devices will be employed by hospitals and other medical organisations.

Top Japanese research firm Ricoh Research has found that in 74% of cases, healthcare organisations using mobile devices to collect patient information are more efficient than those that don’t. Efficiency is a watchword for organisations in the current climate of stretched budgets, staff shortages and increased demand so as marketsandmarkets suggest, investment in the sector is set to rise.

How do health apps work?

There are many different types of application that fall under the ‘health’ title. There are apps that look at particular health issues and are intended for use by the affected person or their family. Then there are higher functioning applications intended for medical institutions.

The first type of app comes in various forms, usually the property of private companies, and have different functions depending on the particular health issue being addressed – weight, alcohol etc.

The second type of app has a different purpose for digital health. This app is controlled by the healthcare organisation directly and allows patients to sign in, access their medical record, manage appointments, request prescriptions and seek advice.

Both types are downloaded to a smart device just like any other app. What functions are available depends on the type and purpose of the app as well as the sophistication of the smart device.

gets people involved in the management of their health can only be a positive factor all round.

Will Patients engage with a mobile App?

All indications are that people are more likely to engage digitally if there is an app available, compared to engagement on a desktop or via an internet browser.

Scepticism surrounding healthcare digitisation stems partly from the relatively low uptake of remote services since they went live online. Remote access to health data and services has been around for a number of years but the number of patients utilising it is low enough to judge the first digital healthcare venture a failure.

An explanation for this failure can be found in the lack of user-friendly websites giving rise to poor user experience. Patients used to the slick and intuitive social media and internet auction sites often found their doctor’s digital technology difficult to navigate and confusing to the point of frustration.

Fitness apps for your smartphone or tablet are nothing new and do not have trouble engaging their users. Fitbit (26.7million active users) launched in 2007 and they were not the first to make an app of this kind. There are so many devices and apps on the market today that tracking your food intake, water consumption, steps taken, heart rate and sleeping patterns are all just normal parts of everyday life and are not seen as any sort of chore by the millions of users.

If tracking data is done routinely and voluntarily with the aim of improving fitness, then certainly engagement from patients on matters of health can be expected.

The key to success is that a lot of the processes are automated behind the scenes, messages are tailored to the user and the interfaces are fast and easy to understand. User experience is at the forefront of all successful apps and it is now time for it to be at the forefront of healthcare.

If you would like to understand how introducing a patient app can improve your organisation then please schedule some time to discuss.


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