The economics of mobile healthcare apps or mHealth apps are astounding. It is easy to see why some of the biggest tech brands like Apple even, are investing in hardware and software to develop ingenious healthcare apps. Size of the mHealth market grew over 5 times from 2012 to 2018, going from $6.7 billion in 2012 grew to $33.59 billion in 2018. By the year 2020, the mHealth revenue is expected to be worth $58.8 billion in value, compared to $25.39 billion in 2017.
With numbers like that, you can already see why tech companies are investing so much into healthcare apps. The greater surprise though, is that despite such staggering growth already, there’s still a lot of room for innovation. The world still needs mHealth apps and if you have a well executed idea up your sleeve, you can not only make a very profitable app but also truly make a difference to people’s lives. To get you started, here’s a chart from Statista that shows the most used health and fitness apps of 2018. As you can see, staying fit, watching weight, tracking periods/ovulation, sleeping well and walking/running are some of the most sought after categories in health and fitness apps.
So you reckon this is a great time to build health apps? All you need is a few ideas that super in demand and profitable, yet not already done to death. We won’t be recommending you a calorie counter or running tracker app today. We’ll give you some ideas that the world still needs, and are profitable.
1. Apps That Watch Heart Health
We must warn you that Apple is already knee deep in this. But with heart problems gripping more and more people every year, there’s plenty of innovation direly required in this area. Anything that can help people stay aware about their heart’s health, and seek medical attention as soon as there is a problem, will be a welcome venture. Worrisome numbers of studies and articles show that people, especially women, too often ignore the first warning signs of heart attack. A lot of heart attack symptoms are less than dramatic, and people tend to brush them off thinking they’re just exhaustion or stress. Having an app that can do a better job of assessing these symptoms and insisting that the user see a doctor can profoundly improve prognosis by preventing late diagnosis.
“The main danger is that when someone comes to the hospital with a more severe or advanced stage of heart disease, there are simply fewer treatment options available”
– Dr. Catherine Kreatsoulas, Fulbright Scholar Heart and Stroke Research Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Apple’s health app for the iPhone already offers extensive features for monitoring heart rate, activity, nutrition and other aspects of health. To push innovation even further, Apple Watch now has not just advanced software but also special hardware that can monitor pulse at the wrist as well as fingertips (using the digital crown on Apple Watch), and detect anomalies in heart rhythm. Apple Watch also includes an ECG app.
2. Apps That Track And Manage Chronic Diseases
That heading is a wide umbrella that can cover a range of different illnesses and develop many different solutions. Anybody suffering with any chronic condition, say Asthma, Arthritis, Diabetes or Cancer, needs all the support they can possibly get. Technology, if used well, can help make the management of these conditions easier by helping the patients
- Stick to their medication schedule,
- Monitor symptoms and flare ups,
- Identify patterns and avoid things that instigate flare ups
- Follow dietary and exercise regimens
- Seek medical help in time
- Maintain pain diaries
- Remotely consult with doctors
- Keep track of insurance coverage
Those are just a few examples. You are only limited by your creative thinking when it comes to developing apps to help manage chronic conditions.
From a b2b perspective, using an app to manage chronic diseases can substantially bring down health care costs, and reduce the burden on hospitals and medical centers, by preventing delayed diagnosis that leads to disease aggravation. It can also cut down burden on hospitals and medical care providers by giving basic answers directly to the app user. This gives doctors, medical insurance providers and other professionals associated to healthcare an incentive to use and promote mobile apps for chronic disease management.
There are already companies like Tricella and TowerViewHealth that are developing smart pillboxes that detect medicine adherence. Asthmapolis, now called Propeller Health is an app that uses a special sensor on the patient’s relief inhaler and connects wirelessly to their phone, collecting details about patient’s use of the inhaler.
As an additional resource, here is an article on Harvard Business Review that talks about the challenges in wider adoption of chronic disease management apps and how developing companies can overcome these challenges.
3. Helping Healthcare Professionals Work Smarter
Keeping the patients, caregivers and doctors in loop, ensuring proper referral to post-acute care, resident scheduling and communication, expedient ER check-ins and reduced wait times, and plenty of other areas in the healthcare setup require better communication and collaboration. There will always be a need for improved apps that can help everyone get better care faster.
Apps that cut out manual works like maintaining records, maintaining visit verification records, insurance pre-approval, performing medication reconciliation, logistics tracking etc. need to be done better and more efficiently. Once again, this is an umbrella term that can lead to various categories of apps. As long as your app can help doctors, caregivers and other healthcare professionals do their jobs better, you have a winner.
Only recently has the medical community started to embrace the reality that most ‘health’ takes place outside the hospital and clinic, namely the daily activities and clinical events that occur the other 362 days per year when people are not seen by a clinician” said Michael McConnell, MD, Clinical Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford.
That is why mHealth apps are such a pivotal part of the process when it comes to helping people take control of their health and change things for the better. If you are an app developer with a passion to improve healthcare delivery and are looking for a way to help users access better healthcare, the above ideas will help you find just what you need to focus your app development efforts on.