We all know how mobile apps are making so many aspects of our lives easier and more convenient. But can they actually make us healthier and happier? Health, fitness, and wellness apps are everywhere…as of 2017, there were 315,000 health apps on the market with 200 being added every day, according to this report, so there’s clearly lots more by now. We’ve talked about the ways to navigate the various rules and regulations of MedTech app development, and how wearable devices are disrupting the healthcare industry. What we really haven’t discussed are the actual ways these apps help and change a user’s relationship with a variety of healthcare professionals. And if you’re considering development of a health or wellness app in such a saturated market, maybe learning about the fundamental ways both patients and doctors benefit from these apps might give you an idea on what type of niche your MedTech app could fall into.
There’s a variety of apps that could help you better inform your doctor and yourself before you ever make an appointment. Entering symptoms that you or a family member are feeling can help you figure out what is happening early and potentially throw up a serious warning sign that you need to get to the doctor fast. Now, to be clear: this should not be a diagnosis, nor claim to be. Diagnosing a disease or condition falls under the FDA medical device auspice, and will be regulated and treated as such. Instead, having a vast database that suggests certain connections of symptoms (with all the appropriate disclaimers, of course) can help users get a good idea of their current health issue. An app like Symptomate is a great example. Also, don’t ignore mental health issues also, as many present with physical issues.
These are a bit more involved, but have the potential to really explode in the app market. The availability and proximity of doctors to patients both in America and worldwide is an actual problem, and remote visits and consultations with doctors is already happening with major healthcare plans. Plus, depending on your plan, a virtual visit with a doctor or nurse for minor ailments like a sinus infection or pink eye can be far less expensive and more convenient than going in for an office visit. And again, this method applies to mental health as well, especially when there is talk therapy involved. While more employers are offering these services than ever before, according to this study, a fairly small percentage are actually using it. Developing a mobile app that allows easy and intuitive connections, especially for the non-tech savvy users, might be a successful direction to explore.
Calendars and Reminders
We’ve all been there: we leave the doctor’s office with advice and directions and a huge stack of papers to shuffle through regarding your aftercare and your subsequent appointments with other specialists. It can be pretty overwhelming keeping track of appointments, medications and everything else. Well, you keep calendars with reminders for the rest of your life’s crazy schedule, so why not your medical stuff? An app like MyMedSchedule is very simple and easy to understand. Just enter the medications and schedule you need to take them (even with the help of your doctor/pharmacist), and your mobile device will remind you when and how to take them, complete with pictures of the pill and accompanying instructions. Multiple appointments with several doctors can be hard to keep track of, especially for seniors, so app developers should be considering these target audiences during the ideation period.
Wellness apps give a much greater scope of possible reminder type apps, so you would be wise to monitor that market as well. Activities like meditation, stretching, sleep, and even reminders to get up and move are popular features with today’s busy schedules. Most come with guided pictures, voiceovers or videos that help you take the appropriate steps, so explore those options. Focusing your app on specific target audiences and certain wellness activities is a smart way to make your app stand out from the crowd.
The first three categories above fall under the wellness and reminder categories, where there’s less regulation, but also a more competitive market. Health apps that monitor and transmit patient health between doctors and patients are becoming increasingly advantageous for both parties. An app like Glucose Buddy helps diabetics monitor their diet and blood sugar levels carefully, as these levels can shift dramatically, while also letting you log your long-term statistics into an exportable copy. You can then share this vital information with your doctor, family, or other diabetics. Another medical app, Kardia, lets a patient give themselves a professional grade EKG which they can share with their doctor in real time if they are concerned. These apps are powerful and highly regulated, but are potential life saving devices. Look into particular niches of disease that might need constant monitoring, like epilepsy or heart disease, and research what other MedTech apps are working with those.
Provider Based Apps
Many healthcare apps are geared towards the doctors or other healthcare providers to help share patient information and keep it organized. There are so many complex and intertwined healthcare provider relationships that it would be a good idea to consult with an app development team to explore which services are most in demand. An app like Epocrates gives physicians a full roster of medical information, all peer-reviewed and evidence-based, including drug interactions, supplement ingredients, and disease content. It also includes a secure text message platform where they can interact with other doctors without privacy concerns. Now more than ever, the ability to share and communicate with other professionals efficiently and securely is highly valued, so make sure to keep that in your development plans.
Wrapping It All Up
By now, you should be recognizing a few patterns with successful MedTech app development. For wellness-based apps, you want to make it easy to understand, intuitive, and maybe even add a touch of humor or caring in with your reminders. The more you’re able to personalize your app, the better the UX should be. With more professional health/medical-based apps, it needs to be as comprehensive and professionally approved as possible. Having these thoughts and ideas in mind when you start consulting with your app development partner can help the process tremendously, so do your research and get started!
Do you have an idea for a health or wellness app? Check out our work with Luna Care to see if Koombea may be a good fit for your app development needs.