Technological innovations have changed every industry imaginable and healthcare isn’t any different. Although the industry is highly regulated, the progressively interconnected nature of our planet has made digital transformation a defining factor for the industry as a whole.
Technology now enables healthcare professionals to provide better care and helps individuals live healthier lives. In fact, mHealth has already helped healthcare practitioners solve the following challenges:
- Data management
- Medication adherence
- Patient-to-doctor communication
- Patient monitoring
None of the above would have been possible without leveraging mHealth applications. According to IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, there are more than 318,500 mHealth apps in the market, almost double the 165,000+ apps counted just three years ago.
So what can we expect in 2018? Will mHealth move up to the next level? Let’s take a look at some mHealth trends that are expected to make a significant impact this year.
Wearables Will Play a Prominent Role in Healthcare
Fitness trackers were the rage a few years ago and such wearables are expected to play a prominent role in mHealth going forward. This means you’ll not only see more fitness trackers, but also mobile heart rate and blood pressure monitors, and pulse oximeters.
The researchers at IDC believe that the wearables we have had so far will seem quaint as new generations will be fully featured and multifunctional. This has the potential to enhance mHealth initiatives across the board.
Telemedicine and Video Chat Will Become the Norm
People have been predicting that telemedicine will play a prominent role in healthcare for many years now, but it never really happened. However, this is expected to change in 2018 because of the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices among families that live below the poverty line in rural areas.
So 2018 might just be the year that telemedicine finally radicalizes how the healthcare industry functions. But it’s not just for people in rural areas as doctors can also leverage video calls to attend to their patients and diagnose various ailments without having to travel to the nearest clinic or hospital.
This enables both doctors and patients to have more freedom while saving time and money. But while there are already several apps that allow video chats with real doctors while providing a wealth of reference information, the cost to the end user is considerably higher than conventional mHealth apps.
This can be attributed to the costs associated with hiring healthcare experts to attend video chats with patients. So for this initiative to really take off, the industry will have to find innovative solutions to cut costs to increase adoption.
AI Will Enhance mHealth
It will be years before we realize the true potential of AI, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not already making an impact on mHealth. With health assistants like Babylon helping identify diseases and Watson for Oncology making predictions about cancer, AI will be more prominent in mHealth this year.
However, in the near future, you can expect AI in mobile health apps to only help remind patients to attend their follow up appointments, take their medicines, and run some test.
While this segment goes through a period of acceleration, it will be critical for both healthcare providers and mobile app developers to focus on data encryption to protect patient data. However, just securing it won’t be enough as it also has to be compliant.
With the deluge of regulations that need to be adhered to, the blockchain might emerge as the perfect solution. This is because it enables anti-counterfeiting, enhanced security, and is highly immutable.
Having a singular security protocol can also make it easier to maintain security, but various application layers need to built over blockchain to achieve it.