Recent findings of healthcare research companies indicate that mobile platforms are redefining the medical industry and the traditional doctor-patient relationship. Both healthcare providers and consumers are using smartphones and tablets as a means to achieve better results in the sphere of medical care.
The practice of using mobile communication devices, such as smartphones, tablets and PDAs, for health services and information has got the name of mHealth (or mobile health). Thus, mHealth applications allow patients to manage and improve health by collecting information about their vital signs and delivering it to practitioners in order to receive the appropriate consultations or treatment. However, not only consumers are taking advantage of mobile technologies, since mHealth applications are to a great extent designed for healthcare professionals, including doctors, clinicians, and nurses that need real-time access to patients’ histories, appointment schedules, drug prescription details, billing data, and other practice related information.
A huge number of medical companies and institutions have already recognized the potential of mobile applications for healthcare. They allocate budgets and invest in developing medical apps for mobile devices, such as, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, as wells other popular smartphones, tablets, and PDAs. Nowadays there exist several thousands of mobile health apps. Such applications are intended for the following purposes:
- Mobile apps provide healthcare specialists with real-time access to the medical records of patients and allow tracking their physical state indicators, symptoms, disease flow, nutrition habits etc.
- Healthcare apps enhance such procedures as scheduling and billing, medication prescribing and drug interaction checking.
- Mobile healthcare apps facilitate communication between doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, for example, through discussions of medical cases in online forums.
- Mobile apps can provide users with the information about local healthcare facilities, as well as with an access to a searchable database of available physicians, dentists, cosmetologists, etc.
- Healthcare applications can help in epidemic outbreak forecast and monitoring.
- Mobile apps may contribute to the promotion of healthcare education and wellness awareness.
In such a way, the positive features of mHealth apps lead to the productivity increase of healthcare businesses, as well as to the improvement of medical information collection and transmission, since such apps allow healthcare specialists to work remotely and still to have access to the critical medical data. This makes it possible to provide customers with diagnostic and treatment support.
The technical level of mHealth applications is increasing and they are getting more sophisticated. Moreover, according to certain studies, it is expected that 500 million people will be using healthcare mobile apps in 2015. Therefore, the development and implementation of such mHealth applications is a business guideline for healthcare companies wishing to successfully operate on the medical care market. More and more traditional healthcare providers are already widening their health services by suggesting consumers an option to make use of helpful mobile applications.