As an industry that deals with complex and sensitive data, healthcare providers have been traditionally slower to adopt IT solutions as strict regulations and secure privacy policies often have to be applied for both app development and usage. Patients have also been hesitant to consistently use apps due to privacy concerns, lack of interest, and the cost of some of the apps on the market. However, as regulatory governmental bodies like the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have begun establishing and enforcing these regulations, it’s no wonder that the development of mobile applications for this particular sector is rapidly increasing.

Healthcare apps among the world’s most in-demand

The healthcare sector is an area in which constant supervision, thorough explanation, and careful monitoring of a patient’s condition are critical to providing effective care. These tasks are also some of the most time-consuming parts of communication between doctors and patients.

According to Gartner’s Top 10 Consumer Mobile Applications list, healthcare-related mobile apps occupy 5th place, after applications for search engines, mobile browsing, location-based services, and money transfer. The report notes that the main uses of healthcare applications include remote patient monitoring, enabling global organizations to reduce costs related to chronic diseases, and improving the quality of life of patients.

The increased potential of this market is evident in the various lists and rankings available that compare medical mobile apps. Certain apps are particularly popular and widely used, appearing in top rating lists often. Let’s take a closer look at what makes some mobile healthcare applications especially popular and what criteria are important to consider when entering this evolving market.

Medical mobile apps targeting care providers

Mobile applications can help automate some of the more time-consuming tasks of a practice by optimizing how doctors store, share, and interpret data related to a patient’s care. Using mobile apps specifically designed for the medical and healthcare industry, care providers can reduce the time they spend on monitoring patients and communicating with them. This results in a decrease of their administrative workload, giving them more time to focus on developing an effective treatment plan based on the latest, most accurate data.

Medical mobile apps provide an easy way for physicians and other care providers to access resources and work with databases that store vast amounts of relevant medical information. They also provide an innovative solution to facilitate remote monitoring of a patient’s condition, streamline communication between the provider(s) and patient, and increase accessibility to effective care in rural areas.

Doctors most often use mobile applications to optimize their practice for 8 main reasons:

  • to keep up to date with the latest news in the world of medicine (i.e. NEJM This Week),
  • to maintain a high level of professional knowledge and qualifications using online resources (i.e. Medscape),
  • to get assistance with diagnostics and treatment plans (i.e. UpToDate and Isabel),
  • to keep data organized and safely stored for easy access,
  • to look up information regarding what prescription drugs are available to treat particular conditions and research their effects (i.e. Epocrates),
  • to search for other providers for consults and referrals,
  • to participate in relevant social, professional networks (i.e. Doximity and Figure 1),
  • and to provide a virtual component to their medical practice, especially useful in rural areas.
  • Some of the apps currently available through the iOS or Android platforms require constant internet access to function properly, while others do not. Some apps are free to use, while others have costs that range from an annual subscription (anywhere from $150 - $500 per year) to paying for access to premium content (through a one-time charge or subscription-based model).

Developing a medical mobile app for doctors requires an understanding of the challenges faced by dealing with sensitive patient information. Successful apps help care providers optimize their workflow, access different resources to assist in diagnosis and treatment, and/or facilitate patient monitoring and communication between patients and associated care providers.

Popular medical mobile apps that focus on consumers

Medical mobile apps that focus on the consumer side are often more focused on the user’s daily life, helping them maintain a particular course of treatment or healthy lifestyle. These types of apps often perform various calculations, provide checklists for proper care, or send out scheduled reminders to maintain a healthy way of living. Many consumer-focused medical mobile apps are affordable or free to use, contributing to their rapid spread among the general population.

Since most healthcare mobile apps are available for download through the iOS App Store or Android App Store, we can also consult these resources to see which types of apps are most frequently downloaded to personal devices. Many apps on the market currently focus on general fitness, mental health, a healthy diet, and women’s health in particular.

Fitness-focused apps

Modern mobile applications often use sensors to track heart rhythm, energy expenditure, hydration, etc. and are able to synchronize the data and display it in an easy-to-understand, actionable manner. This constant tracking provides incredibly high accuracy when it comes to reporting a patient’s current state to care providers and is a great way to motivate patients to help them achieve training or treatment goals.

In a comparative analysis of medical mobile software conducted by IMS Health, it was concluded that the most popular consumer-focused medical mobile apps were the ones that helped users maintain a “healthy everyday life”. Some of the 100 Best Android Apps of 2017 were fitness trackers for smartphones (such as MyFitnessPal, Runtastic Six Pack Ab Workout, or My Asics Run Coaching). These types of apps have gained extraordinary popularity in recent years, as have applications focused on maintaining a healthy diet.

Global sportswear brands are also involved in the creation of mobile applications that focus on maintaining healthy lifestyles (like Nike+ Run Club), using them to increase exposure to, and demand for, their products while contributing to the healthcare-focused mobile app market.

Apps targeting women’s health

Women’s health is another important demographic that medical mobile app developers can focus on. Successful apps (like Clue and Eve by Glow) tailor their usability and design to their particular target audience. While Clue wins in simplicity, Eve By Glow offers more advanced tracking features, including focusing on physical and emotional states. Some apps also connect to informational resources about women's sexual health, often providing access for free or through various payment or subscription models.The benefit of versatile healthcare app development

Mobile app developers often choose to focus their resources on one particular platform to engage their target audience, but some choose to adapt their apps to both platforms for increased engagement and exposure.

Entering the medical mobile app market

As the medical mobile app market continues to grow and opportunities to develop useful, popular apps increase, the sector offers lucrative potential to those interested in entering it.

SteelKiwi has years of experience developing software for healthcare purposes on both mobile and desktop and we are always interested in keeping up to date with developing trends, new challenges, and possible opportunities. If you’re looking to enter this ever-evolving market, please don’t hesitate to contact us with your idea and we will help you get started today!