There are more than 165,000 healthcare and wellness apps available in the digital marketplace. These apps monitor sleep quality, remind the user to drink enough water, connect with professional doctors, and perform EKGs. The synergy of technology and healthcare brings amazing opportunities for both app developers and app users. The mobile marketing company Comboapp sees into the latest trends and challenges of the mHealth industry.
By next year, at least 50% of all smartphone users will have installed healthcare apps. Even now, my friends, my family, and I already have wellness apps on our phones.
What makes eHealth apps so popular?
- The rising ownership of smartwatches and fitness trackers foster the use of wellness & healthcare apps. These wearables usually come with apps designed for constant active use.
- Digital health management gains the trust of their users. According to ITOnline, 79% of respondents in USA would choose a wearable device to track and manage their health, and 88% are willing to share their personal information to improve treatment options.
- The viral component of the wellness apps: most of them are integrated with social networks, where users willingly share their workout progress, diet efforts, and other details that make them feel good about themselves.
- Healthcare and wellness apps often provide the fastest & cheapest solution for those who follow a healthy lifestyle trend and seek support and information.
Global companies and organizations push the mHealth industry forward. Google DeepMind has recently acquired a healthcare app called Hark that is designed for clinical task management. The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the WHO Zika mobile app. It helps health workers and general public to acquire relevant information on symptoms, treatment, and prevention of Zika virus.
The expectations for the future of healthcare apps are unlimited. Still federal regulations frequently come in the way of innovation, slowing down the potential for growth. According to FDA (Food and Drug Administration) experts, a high-risk app that can indirectly affect user’s health must be approved by the FDA before reaching the user. Low-risk apps that provide wellness tips or information shouldn’t face such measures from the FDA.
In order to deal with risky issues and gain user trust, both app developers and medical professionals work on evaluating the quality and safety of healthcare apps. App developers invite doctors to participate in the app design process, provide expertise, and give their advice on medical data.
Vadim Grynchenko, product designer of the First Aid app, says that a doctor’s involvement into the app development process makes it much more complicated and requires additional resources. The FirstAid app, which helps people understand the causes of their pain, was developed in close cooperation with experienced medical professionals.
“We didn’t realise how much time and effort we would spend on communication with doctors on this project. This kind of communication made us to think about the creation of some special tools for doctors. It appeared to be easier at the start, when we discussed the idea of the app. When it came to actual development, tools for our doctors required the longest iteration. Medical professionals need an easy-to-use interface and database navigation, and app developers should consider this when planning a medical app.”
After developing and launching a healthcare app, developers need to get their app noticed among thousands of similar competitors. It’s almost impossible for a new app to gain visibility on the App Store without spending money on promotion. As we’ve seen at Comboapp, a successful marketing strategy for a healthcare app contains several methods: thorough market research, PR and content strategy, and a paid acquisition campaign.
Although it may take a while for healthcare apps to gain unconditional trust from regulators and consumers, mHealth is already providing a reliable alternative to some medical procedures. Further progress depends greatly on the cooperation between medical professionals and software developers.