For mobile application development companies looking to have a growth niche for the next few years, developing mobile apps for the healthcare sector is an attractive option. In 2012, Juniper estimates that both physicians and users will download 44 million mobile healthcare and medical apps. This number is expected to rise to 142 million by 2016. The types of applications range from mobile apps that interface with mobile sensor devices that can electronically transmit patient data, such as blood pressure to the physician to mobile apps that allow both doctors and patients to access the latest research and information about different drugs, diseases and treatments.
While the development of these mobile applications is similar to those in other sectors, special attention is required to data security in order to meet the HIPAA requirements to securely transmit and store the protected health information (PHI) of patients. Part of the requirements is to extensively document detailed information about the security measures used to protect PHI. Most healthcare providers will request this documentation before purchasing any type of mobile healthcare application in order to meet their own HIPAA regulations. Additionally, mobile application developers will have to attend to the announcements the FDA is making about their plans to regulate healthcare-related mobile apps.
The Types of Mobile Healthcare Apps Consumers Want
The results of a 2010 PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute survey of consumers indicated:
- Eighty percent of those surveyed would like and use a mobile healthcare application that would evaluate health information provided by the consumer and provide feedback related to the information. It is important to note that this type of application carriers a significant degree of risk for mobile web app developers and distributors in the event the feedback is erroneous.
- Forty-two percent of consumers would use mobile web applications to find out information about prescription drugs.
- Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed reported they would use mobile web apps to find out information about diseases.
- Thirty-one percent of consumers stated that they would be willing to pay between $1.00 and $6.00 for a mobile healthcare.
The Types of Mobile Healthcare Apps Physicians Want
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute also surveyed physicians to determine the types of mobile healthcare apps that healthcare providers would use on a regular basis. The results of this survey found that:
- Fifty-six percent of physicians thought that having access to medical data on mobile applications can significantly reduce the time it takes to make decisions about the diagnosis and treatment of their patients.
- Thirty-nine percent of healthcare providers believed that mobile apps can help reduce the time and cost of administrative tasks in their practice.
- Thirty-six percent believed that mobile apps can facilitate collaboration among healthcare providers.
- Twenty-six percent of doctors believed that using mobile web apps can help them spend more time available to meet with their patients.
- Forty percent of physicians believed that mobile healthcare apps can help decrease the frequency of patient office visits by transmitting information that would normally be gather during an office visit.
The results of these surveys give direction for mobile application development in what will likely be the best-selling mobile apps for the healthcare sector.