The health industry is currently undergoing a revolution. Technology now allows people to handle much of their personal health needs themselves. It doesn’t have to do with googling symptoms and seeing what comes up on WebMD. There’s a booming market of mobile health apps that gain traction under users from all over the world.
The most popular health apps include MyFitnessPal (50M+ downloads) and Headspace (10M+ downloads). And they cover two different aspects of health. But apps like these pave the way for a much bigger industry trend. And people are comfortable with apps that track and guide some of their health-related activities.
mHealth (mobile health) involves any wearable or mobile app. mHealth monitors the user or a person shares health-related information with apps. The mHealth industry is currently experiencing exponential growth. Customers’ demand for ways to analyze their health choices continues to grow. It also provides medical professionals with new ways to check up and diagnose their patients remotely.
Many companies — Apple and Google included — work on an array of new mHealth apps and wearables. Fortune Business Insights estimates that the total mHealth market will be worth $57 billion by 2026.
Here are some key trends that will drive the mobile health app market in the next few years.
Chronic Disorders as Crucial Drivers
The lifespan of an average person increased thanks to developments in modern science and healthcare. But that has also led to an increase in age-related chronic disorders that need constant monitoring. So these chronic diseases are a massive driver for mobile health app demand. And they will continue to be a significant driving force for the foreseeable future.
Mobile apps relieve the pressure on healthcare professionals to provide regular checkups for their patients. They open up their schedules for other pressing concerns. Mobile health apps can help patients track their health and remind them to take their medication. They can also facilitate remote check-ins that don’t need the patient to come in for a checkup and alert their doctor in an emergency.
In-Depth Patient-Generated Health Data Charting
Patient-Generated Health Data or PGHD takes care of the information that patients give away by using mHealth technology. This information includes data like:
- personal habits
- treatment history
- biometric data
- health-related search history
Apps collect vast amounts of data from their users, and health apps are no different. Health professionals can use that information to assess and assist patients without having to rifle through outdated files. This data also helps machine learning predict better solutions to app user problems or questions.
PGHD can come in handy for many applications in the health industry. It’s also a much more reliable way to keep track of a person’s medical history and needs.
A Greater Need for Data Security
Gathering massive amounts of data on people’s health and habits can help professionals assist them faster. But it is also dangerous. That data is not only valuable to those in the health industry, as is evident from massive data breaches through apps like MyFitnessPal in the past.
Increased app use necessitates a much-needed increase in security efforts. It’s necessary to ensure people’s data stays safe from those who would exploit it.
It’s not only hackers and criminals who would do so. Insurance companies also have a considerable stake in gathering detailed insights into their clients’ habits and health data. That’s why some experts estimate that there is going to be an accompanying increase in demand for anonymizing technology like VPNs.
What is a VPN? It’s a software and service that protects its users from being tracked online by encrypting their connections and hiding their IP address. It doesn’t help people who willingly share their data with apps, but it can prevent a digital profile or footprint from being assembled on them.
Growing Accuracy in AI-Based Recommendations
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are permeating many sectors, including the mHealth industry. With AI driving the show, apps can deliver a much more in-depth service to their users. They can both understand and predict their needs. Thus, it helps users manage their own mental health needs.
Machine learning makes it possible to add tremendous interaction capabilities and automate them. In the coming years, AI will start taking a central role in anticipating people’s behavior and helping them adopt safer and healthier habits.
Their ability to reason and solve problems comes in handy with wearable technology as well. For instance, smart shoes can track a person’s jogging style through the pressure of their soles. It can then send them advice via the connected app on how to adjust their technique.
An Increase in Mood Monitoring and Relaxation Apps
Mental health concerns like anxiety and depression take center stage as stigma declines, and cases rise. Many healthcare practitioners amplify the need for better quality apps that deal with mental health. And the demand for these types of applications continues to grow. They are also useful for people who aren’t ready to share their intimate mental health concerns with anyone else yet.
Currently, there are plenty of mental-health oriented apps. The problem in the immediate future will be a way of legitimizing the helpful ones and distancing from those that don’t fulfill the needs.
Better and Faster Communication
There’s a growing list of new methods of communication via smartphones and other forms of mobile technology. An increasing number of mHealth apps use these features too. They offer people quick and efficient ways of communicating their needs to their practitioners.
It doesn’t remove the face-to-face meetings entirely, of course. But it can help mitigate many traditional walk-in cases. For instance, birth control prescription renewal or minor follow-up appointments.
There are a lot of exciting developments in the mobile health app sector right now. New technology facilitates a wave of helpful and smart apps. They augment the already overburdened capacity of the healthcare industry. On top of that, it provides everyone with new ways to manage their health from wherever they are.