Best Practices in eHealth and mHealth Application Development

May 28, 2020

The digital revolution reshaped our everyday lives allowing us to witness unbelievable things over the past few decades. The innovations touch all spheres, and the healthcare industry is not an exception. The first telesurgery conducted in 2001 made it possible for doctors to carry out surgical procedures on the patients even if they are located in different countries at the moment. It’s just one example of revolutionizing advances in the combination of medicine and the latest technologies.

The continuously increasing volume of patient data, as well as the necessity of its proper and secure storage, has brought forward the need for automation and efficient management of healthcare processes. All these combined led to a high demand for Healthcare Information Technology solutions. The healthcare IT market is predicted to reach 390.7 billion dollars by 2024 that is double the amount of healthcare spending in 2019. More and more healthcare providers implement technological innovations in IT into their healthcare application development, boosting digital transformation in the medical sphere.

Healthcare IT market growth diagramSource: MarketsandMarkets

eHealth and mHealth Overview: The Evolution of Concepts in the Last Few Decades

The term eHealth was first used in the late 1990s and covered only internet medicine. However, now eHealth is a broader term that covers everything related to computers and medicine. eHealth derives its “e” from ‘electronic’ and can be explained as a healthcare practice at the intersection of public health, medical informatics, and business enhanced with electronic processes and communication technology. eHealth includes a big number of systems and services functioning on the edge of IT and healthcare.

One of the most widely used examples of eHealth systems is mHealth (mobile health) which is connected with the increasing mobile phone usage. mHealth is a sub-segment responsible for the distribution of eHealth services and protected health information via mobile devices. The widespread popularity of mHealth is obvious due to the daily use of phones. According to the research based on GSMA real-time intelligence data, as of 2020, 5.28 billion people all over the world are using mobile devices (that is about 68% of the world’s population).

Number of mobile devices owners in the world Source: BankMyCell

The history of mobile healthcare dates back to 1999 when the governments of the developed countries noticed the opportunity to create remote healthcare systems thanks to the rapid growth of mobile technologies. At that time, the area associated with the use of mobile devices began to be singled out from the general concept of “eHealth”, but the term mHealth was coined later, in 2003. Just in two years, one of the first mHealth systems was developed at the University of London. A unique system made it possible to monitor the state of human health and transfer data from a mobile phone to the health facilities anywhere in the world. Another important event in the history of mHealth can be considered an establishment of mHealth Alliance in 2008. It is a non-profit healthcare organization created with the purpose to increase the availability of mobile healthcare in developing countries. The organization also creates online communities and promotes partnerships with healthcare institutions.

As you can see, eHealth and mHealth concepts are tightly interconnected. mHealth systems need access to eHealth ones in order to manage, store, and analyze the data. At the same time, mHealth contributes a lot to the healthcare services delivery as it can better reach locations with limited exposure to healthcare.

5 Areas Where eHealth and mHealth Revolutionized the Healthcare Industry

The medical system is focused on simplifying the communication process between doctors, patients, and third-party institutions. Healthcare app development can be considered one of the main tools that added value to this process and brought a true revolution to healthcare services. The statistics show that the number of mHealth applications reaches 41,377 at Google Play and 44,384 in the Apple Store. Private organizations and governmental bodies largely support healthcare software development companies in providing their custom application development services. The figure below illustrates that the mHealth application segment was the 3rd top funded digital category with investments accounting 1.23 billion U.S. dollars.

Digital health funding in 2019

Source: Statista

Let’s have a closer look at why healthcare application development became so popular in the last couple of years and what advantages it brings to the users and the global healthcare system on the whole.

Affordability & Cost Reduction

In most countries, healthcare services are quite expensive. This concerns not only critical conditions or surgeries but also simple consultations and scheduled clinical examinations. People are looking for alternatives to reduce healthcare expenses, and eHealth applications offer the most effective and smart solutions for it. Patients can easily have online appointments with the doctors instead of visiting a clinic. Actual visits normally cost higher not to mention costs of getting to and from the hospital, especially for someone who lives in a rural area.

The use of eHealth applications also reduces costs through the introduction of new treatment methods, especially those related to chronic diseases. The majority of chronic diseases require stable and consistent practices such as diet, physical activity, and certain lifestyle habits. Mobile applications allow patients to monitor the course of their disease, detect deviations from acceptable standards, and schedule a doctor appointment only if it’s a real necessity.

Health Data Collection and Analysis

eHealth applications, especially remote monitoring systems and mHealth apps, are able to continuously collect health data of the users, such as blood pressure, heart rate, etc. However, in order to get a holistic approach to patient care, doctors also need to have access to the data that determines a patient’s lifestyle. Accurate and thorough data collection is necessary to evaluate a patient’s condition, assess the effectiveness of treatment practices, monitor trends, set priorities in providing services, and improve the overall healthcare industry.

Improving Healthcare Efficiency

The duties of a doctor are associated with intensive workloads due to the maintenance of a continuous flow of patients and the processing of large volumes of information, as well as professional, social, and legal responsibility for the results of treatment. All of these factors increase stress level and this in turn significantly affects the efficiency and productivity of healthcare workers.

Healthcare apps aim to simplify the work of doctors. They allow doctors to access and manage patient histories in just a few clicks, conduct online consultations, send e-prescriptions to both patients and pharmacies, thus freeing up time for the treatment process itself.

Paperless Documentation

From the aforementioned benefit, it follows that automation of medical records management allows doctors to replace piles of documents with only one application. Autofill and predefined field values can save doctors a lot of time for such routine processes as filling out medical records during or after the appointment. Thanks to eHealth apps, they don’t have to carry a lot of documents and can easily access previous prescriptions, laboratory results, chronological medical records, and lifestyle suggestions from a single place.

Extra Help to Caregivers

eHealth applications are extremely useful not only for patients but also for caregivers. Such individuals don’t have formal training in healthcare, but they significantly help and assist seniors and people with disabilities in their everyday lives. Such applications allow caregivers and family members to keep a close eye on the patient’s condition and constantly record and monitor health parameters. The well-known applications that help caregivers to do their duties efficiently are Care Zone, Medisafe, Dementia Caregiver Solutions, First Aid: American Red Cross, Symple, etc.

Best Practices of Application Development in eHealth and mHealth. Examples of Market Leaders

There are a lot of types of healthcare apps that are used for different purposes, such as remote patient monitoring, e-prescribing, health data collection, etc, but still, they have few things in common that should be taken into consideration during healthcare application development. Healthcare apps must be created in accordance with specific requirements and should include some basic functionality to beсome successful on the market and fully meet the needs of consumers.

Data Security & Privacy Protection

The smooth functionality of an eHealth application can be ensured if it is able to store, exchange, and process a lot of personal user data. Any solution must comply with security regulations and compliances that vary in different countries. The national law of these countries establishes rules for the exchange of personal medical information and its protection against unauthorized use. It concerns not only healthcare institutions that collect patients’ data and provide medical services, but also other organizations that help them to manage and store data.

Design & Personalization

UI/UX design for healthcare applications has some peculiarities as it is implemented for special target audiences, such as patients with special needs, doctors that communicate with them, etc. Therefore, it is important to consider a number of factors that users of your application are dealing with. User Interface personalization is crucial in custom healthcare software development. As it’s already mentioned, there is a chance that your application will be used by people with disabilities, such as low vision, dyslexia, physical disability, etc. That’s why the right color scheme, graphic elements, and their placement, brightness can play an assistive function for these people. Ask the company that provides custom application development services for you to develop a proof of concept or MVP to demonstrate the main functionality of the solution. Also, don’t forget to collect user feedback to constantly improve your app and update it with new versions.

Leveraging Up-to-date Technologies

Before looking for a software provider of custom application development services, make a list of features that your app should have. On this basis, the app development company will recommend the technology stack that is best suited for a specific solution. Leveraging the up-to-date technologies will provide your application with the functionality that users expect from medical apps.

  • Implementation of artificial intelligence into your healthcare application will use complex computer algorithms to simplify the diagnostic procedure. For example, patients can use a symptom checker and receive treatment advice without direct doctor’s input.
  • To ensure high-level security of all the data stored by eHealth and mHealth apps, healthcare software development companies have to use encryption techniques.
  • The Internet of Things is also widely used in healthcare application development. Wearables have become a helpful tool to collect and track health-related data, empowering healthcare professionals to deliver better medical services.
  • Inbuilt app analytics will allow you to monitor user interaction with your product, their engagement, and satisfaction.
  • Modern eHealth and mHealth apps should help patients to book an appointment with doctors in just a few clicks without the need to wait in long quizzes. If the app provides an online appointment feature it makes it more valuable in the eyes of the users as it saves them a lot of time.

If your healthcare application includes the aforementioned functionality then it will be in high demand among consumers. Here are a few examples of highly successful eHealth and mHealth applications.

Validic is the healthcare platform that provides constant access to personal medical data received from more than 350 medical devices, mobile applications, and wearable sensors. Patients receive periodic reports containing their health data. Doctors, in turn, receive more information with an expanded interpretation of the same data, which enables high-quality supervision and treatment.

Medici healthcare solution consists of 2 applications: one for patients and one for doctors. People who need medical advice can communicate with their doctors via chat, phone, and video call anywhere and anytime. Whereas doctors can easily prescribe medications even during the consultation, securely import patient’s contacts directly from their EHR, and team up with colleagues to help patients with difficult conditions.

Fitbit is a family of eHealth products, from smartwatches to accessories, able to provide serious healthcare services, including the monitoring of sleep apnea. Fitbit’s fitness and activity tracker is one of the most popular in today’s market. This wearable device for sports lovers has built-in GPS for pace and distance and can track your heart rate 24/7. Healthcare applications for maintenance of a healthy lifestyle aim to improve the overall well-being of people. Leobit can also boast of a fitness solution with gamification elements developed for a Norwegian company as a governmental initiative to prevent a sedentary lifestyle.
Fitness solution with gamification elements example
Fitness solution with gamification elements developed by Leobit

​Moalej is a home-based medical platform that consists of web and mobile applications. Patients can be constantly monitored by doctors without the necessity to visit hospitals. This type of clinical examination reduces the average check for patients and the amount of paperwork for doctors. 24/7 remote patient monitoring allows freeing a large number of hospital beds and increasing access to health care for others.

Conclusion

There are thousands of eHealth and mHealth apps that changed the way medical services are provided by healthcare professionals and delivered to patients. Thanks to these applications and the overall revolution in healthcare application development, healthcare is more affordable, cheap, fast, and convenient.

If you are a healthcare startup or a hospital, we recommend you to outsource your application development as it’s the best cost-effective and time-saving way to implement your idea into a successful project. Outsourced companies know how to meet the compliance requirements of a country where you are going to offer your healthcare app. All you have to do is to compile for your vendor a list of features the app should have.

Leobit experts have vast experience in custom healthcare software development. Our team built an innovative platform for patient-doctor interaction supporting a variety of real-time communication and connection tools. As the customer requested, Leobit engineers developed Android, iOS, and web applications for this project. If you want to create a healthcare application from scratch choosing Leobit for outsourcing your application development is the right decision. Don’t hesitate to contact our experts and get free technology consulting right away.

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter