The health industry is one of the largest markets in the USA, and there is increased evidence that it is picking up speed in its use of digital apps.
Indeed, a report from the IQVIA Institute called The Growing Value of Digital Health indicated that between 2015 and the end of last year, the number of healthcare apps had more or less doubled – and that more than 200 apps were being added to smartphone stores each day!
Why the increase in app use?
The IQVIA study demonstrated that the use of digital health tools in clinical practice has demonstrated increase evidence of improving both patient outcomes and cost savings.
In other words, healthcare apps have both helped clinical practices save money and provide better treatment to patients.
The most impressive takeaway from the study showed that the US healthcare system could potential save as much as $7 billion each year by increased use of health apps in five major areas of care:
- Diabetes prevention
- Diabetes care
- Cardiac rehabilitation
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
If the figure was extrapolated across the total health expenditure for the country, the cost savings could reach upwards of $46 billion!
So what are the specific benefits of using healthcare apps?
There are a number of benefits to both patients and healthcare providers.
Mobile apps offer more transparency and better engagement
One of the most distressing parts of receiving medical treatment is the lack of communication, for patients and their loved ones.
Mobile apps offer a chance for healthcare professionals to reassure patients, even if they can’t appear in person.
Indeed, apps can theoretically guide patients through every part of their treatment, from offering information in the waiting room right through to helping with aftercare.
It’s no secret that patients in general don’t enjoy waiting time, and although apps can’t totally remove the problem, they can offer a point of contact for patients in order to make them feel more looked after.
On a purely practical level, too, this can be invaluable, allowing patients and healthcare provides to exchange information quickly. For instance, if your doctor is running late, wouldn’t it be nicer to get a quick text to let you know you don’t need to come in until later? Little touches like this can make the world of difference.
Improved Patient Safety
This, of course, is the primary benefit for any medical professional.
Apps have the potential to massively improve patient safety. Many patients will leave hospital with a complicated recovery programme to complete, but having undergone treatment that’s left them groggy and uncertain.
Needless to say, this is less than ideal.
Having your full recovery programme detailed on your app will make it far, far easier to ensure you take your medication exactly when required, ensure you monitor your side effects and also enable you to provide your doctor with feedback on how things are going.
It’s obvious that this approach will usually be far more effective in ensuring patients recover safely, and that they suffer far less from any issues post treatment.
Obviously, nothing can be done to rule out medical problems, but apps offer healthcare professionals the chance to supervise and offer and advice even when they’re not actually present. Increased patient safety is almost inevitable.
Mobile apps can provide detailed information not available elsewhere
Looking for healthcare information online can, unfortunately, be a somewhat mixed bag.
There are plenty of non-reputable sources happy to try and sell off-the-record health ‘treatments’ to people simply unaware that they’re not dealing with medical professionals.
By setting up a genuine app, clinical practices are able to ensure that their patients get genuine, specific information straight from the right source.
Even in cases where the general available information is enough, being able to message a practice and get more detailed information will be invaluable for patients that aren’t able to visit a surgery in patients.
A specific example would be for first-time mothers, who won’t necessarily want to visit a practice, but will still want to get as much detailed advice as they can in order to feel comfortable.
And, of course, in situations like this, patients will usually want to get the information as quickly as they can: indeed, patient satisfaction scores are often impacted by how fast they’re able to get relevant information.
Tracking information is far easier
The truth is that if you’re undergoing a complicated health programme, whether for recovery or, for example, something like weight loss, it’s almost impossible to keep track of everything.
Some medical treatment programmes can involve having to monitor medication intake, diet and fitness exercises all at once – for people in a poor state of health, this can be overwhelming to say the least.
By using apps, patients can both input relevant information – food intake, exercises completed, symptoms, etc – both for their own records and so their healthcare professional can check it if necessary.
They can allow patients to feel more in control
As people, we all like to feel we’re in control of our lives, and in the case of serious medical care this can be even more vital.
In the case of chronic illness, apps allow patients to both keep track of their health and to help keep in frequent contact with their healthcare providers regarding any potential issues they might have.
A well designed and easy to use app can allow patients and their medical professionals to set long-term goals and to track progress, and by linking to tracking hardware can also be used to alert healthcare providers to any potential problems as early as possible.
This also has the benefit of giving the doctor or other professional a firm ongoing understanding of the patient’s condition, so that when face-to-face meetings take place, there is less time needed to catch up. (This also has the benefit of making the patient feel less like ‘just another number’).
They offer practical features that benefit patients directly
In the end, apps should make life easier for the patients and for the clinical practices providing them, which is why they’re usually designed with practical uses in mind.
If patients are able to do things like access their medical records, book/cancel/reschedule appointments and process refills on their prescriptions, their life will be simpler and treatment will feel like less of a hassle, especially if they suffer from chronic conditions.
If you choose to work with our expert UX team on the design of your own app, you can ensure that from the beginning it gives patients exactly what they want.
In the end, they make patients feel more cared for
No medical practice is able to provide on-the-spot care for patients at all time. It’s not possible.
The key, then, is to make sure patients feel looked after, even if you’re not available.
An app can be a great way of ensuring they still feel connected and empowered to ensure they make the right healthcare decisions.
Get in touch
At Iconic Solutions, we’re specialists in digital health app development.
Get in touch today if you’re interested in learning more about how an app could improve your service.