Digital transformation is changing the healthcare sector rapidly – from early diagnosis of critical disease to remote and continuous patient monitoring to treatment management. Emerging technologies of IoT, AI/ML, cloud computing, mobility, and analytics play a vital role in this transformation.
In this series of blogs, we will discuss how mHealth apps and connected health platforms can assist patients and doctors in diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment. We will also delve deeper into how the Clinical Decision Support (CDS) system helps practitioners in informed decision-making.
According to MarketsandMarkets, the global mHealth solutions market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 33.3% from a size of $50.8 billion in 2020 to $213.60 billion in 2025. This rise has been propelled by increased mobile penetration, decreased patient visits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 4G/5G internet availability in rural areas.
mHealth apps are categorized based on their applications and users. They give tremendous benefits to both patients and doctors. The different types of apps for various use cases are teleconsultation, remote patient monitoring, and medication and treatment adherence. Let us see how these apps are useful to patients and doctors with various features they offer.
Telehealth apps are used by doctors and patients for video consultations and virtual visits. They offer doctor-on-call or doctor-on-demand facilities to patients, who can schedule a virtual appointment with the specialist practitioner and can also manage online payment. It eliminates significant travel time, cost, and in-hospital wait time for patients. Doctors can remotely diagnose the patients and prescribe treatment and medication. They can even check the diagnosis reports and prescriptions online through the app. During and post COVID-19 times, telehealth apps are very useful for the critically ill, elderly patients, and doctors.
Video conferencing is an integral feature of tele-consultation apps. To serve the increasing number of patients, the technology stack must ensure high-quality video/audio processing, secure data transfer, storage, and compliance.
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FDA Class II Telehealth Examination and Diagnosis Device
Remote monitoring apps
These apps are mostly associated with medical devices or wearables to capture real-time patient data. The vitals data include temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood glucose, blood pressure, and ECG. Various vital monitoring sensors on wearables and monitoring devices capture the data and send it to a mobile app via Bluetooth or BLE. Continuous wireless connectivity monitors the patient’s health remotely and alerts the caretaker in case of any abnormality in physiological parameters. These apps help carers in large community care setups to respond quickly to the needs of critically ill patients.
The analyzed data helps to track the medication’s effectiveness, improve the health and wellness of users, manage population health, and pharma drug trials. Drug trial subjects have wearables along with the app to capture the vitals. The analytics of these data help pharma companies to improvise the effectiveness of the drug.
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Web & Mobile App for Smart Healthcare Services
Treatment adherence apps
These apps are mainly used for elderly patients or for patients who are on daily medication. It tracks daily medical doses, schedules reminders, and alerts for taking the medications. It also tracks various medication details such as its expiry date, consumption details, and side effects.
Treatment adherence apps provide training to patients on how to take the medication. For example, how to inhale the medication using an inhaler or how to inject the insulin dose from the auto-injector. It also assists doctors with real-time measurement of blood glucose so that they can increase the daily doses. These apps send medication consumption and therapy status to caregivers and family members with weekly and monthly analyses.
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Healthcare Mobile Application Development and Cybersecurity Testing
The developer faces a lot of challenges in successfully implementing and penetrating mHealth apps globally. Let us look at the key challenges:
Interoperability and integration
One of the key challenges developers face today is interoperability with multiple third-party devices and software. This could be a wearable or on-body vital monitoring device or diagnostics device. Multiple devices send data in various data formats and the app should be compatible for capturing and processing this data. On the downstream side, an application should synchronize with mobile and non-mobile devices over BLE, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi interfaces. Whereas on the upstream infra side, it should also be compatible with the EHR software, and understand HL7 transfer and different operating environments.
Compliance and regulation
Another major challenge is medical regulation guidelines. As these apps are directly associated with patients’ Personal Health Information (PHI), they need to adhere to local regulatory guidelines. Different countries have different guidelines, so apps must comply with all of them to target the global market. Common compliances are HIPAA and PHI for the USA, PIPEDA for Canada, and GDPR for Europe. Different regulatory bodies have different guidelines and standards that the app should adhere to, and the developer should have the experience to manage patients’ data as per these guidelines.
With the increased malware and cyber-attacks on medical devices and applications, security is an inevitable factor in application development. As per the Knight Ink cybersecurity researcher, “It’s 10 times more the price of a credit card for a single PHI record.” Additionally, Gartner predicts that API attacks will become the most frequent attack vectors for application breaches by 2022. The application must be vetted with open vulnerability assessment using SAST/DAST to identify the thefts. Penetration testing on the app, using real-world attack scenarios, captures possible vulnerabilities.
Usability or UI/UX is one of the key challenges, specifically for elderly patients. It could be readability issues, navigation, inconvenient UI/UX, complex first setup, and difficulty in feature access. The low learnability and memorability issues of these users lead to inefficient use of the app and poor health outcomes.
Earlier, doctors and physicians had to diagnose the patient with very little body information data such as height, weight, blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate. Now, with this real-time sensor data and information from patients, clinicians have a large amount of information to treat the patient and improve their health and wellness. Additionally, with a large amount of historical data from an individual user, the app can show illness trends, track symptoms, and medication adherence. Vital measurement in real-time will aid quick decision-making for doctors and will make it easier for patients to share their data remotely.
We, at eInfochips, help global healthcare providers to develop end-to-end device-to-cloud solutions including mHealth apps. We have vast experience in native and cross-platform mobile application development in the diagnostics, monitoring, and telehealth domains for our customers. Our world-class OT-IT integration experience empowers us to seamlessly integrate with diverse field devices.
Connect with our expert today to know more about our mobile app development capabilities.