Here are 5 ways that mobile apps on smartphones will transform healthcare as we know it.
In 2012 Kaiser Permanente made huge strides in the healthcare industry by making its entire electronic healthcare system. At the time it was the most extensive electronic medical recording offering in the world, available to all its members via a mobile app. Today, Kaiser patients can make appointments, check lab tests, order prescriptions, and digitally communicate with their physicians all from their smartphone of choice. Kaiser is on to something when they say that accessing health information on mobile devices is becoming the “new norm”.
The numbers support Kaiser’s bold statement regarding the new norm. 2.3 billion people use smartphones world wide. By 2019 this number is predicted to surpass 5 billion, and smartphones are only getting smarter. 10 years from now everyone will be carrying a smartphone that is not only location aware (think Google Maps) but also situationally and contextually aware. This means that real time information will be made readily available to you when you need it, revolutionizing the way patients are engaged with the healthcare system.
These new types of technology coupled with the explosive growth in healthcare centric mobile apps show signs that the way healthcare is delivered and accessed is set to drastically change. mHealth Intelligence shows that healthcare apps total worth went from $85 million to $489 million in just 5 years. This amount of growth is faster than many other categories of apps and it is not predicted to slow down anytime soon. Doctors won’t go away, but they will have access to more data than ever before and this will in turn change how consumers use and act on their health information. This kind of power should not be underestimated and doctors should make sure mobility for their practice stays front-of-mind.
Here are 5 ways that mobile apps on smartphones will transform healthcare as we know it:
Better Access to Care
With the rise of smartphones and digital communication methods the requirement for patients and doctors to be in the same location is eliminated. People in rural areas who may have limited access to doctors would be able to “visit” a primary care physician or specialists located in the next major city, or across the world. The patient will increasingly be in his or own home, out on the move, at work, or running errands while interacting with their doctor. Patients and doctors will be able to decide together when a visit is best done in person, or if healthcare services can safely be delivered virtually.
Better Patient Engagement
There are so many outdated and annoying aspects of healthcare that discourage patient engagement. Lack of transparency when it comes to cost and quality, long lines, and long wait times. So much of this is unnecessary. As a patient, you are most likely feeling some discomfort in the sense that you are visiting the doctor, so why should it be extra painful to go to make the visit? You could easily be sent a text stating that your doctor is running late. Apps can also keep track of your prescriptions and know how many pills you have taken and when you are running low. Geolocation technology and mapping of previous user behavior means an app would be able to notify that you are running low and ask whether you want to pick your prescription up at the nearest CVS (because it would know your location and where you usually pick up your prescriptions) or if you would prefer a mail deliver. One simple touch of a button and your prescription would be automatically refilled.
New Healthcare Business Models
Access to new data points from sensors and devices will create an abundance of opportunities for healthcare professionals. Traditional healthcare business models were crafted before there was such a huge influx of patient data. With the flood of information from devices like Fitbit, Smartphones, Smartwatches, and the progression of healthcare technology as a whole, there is a great need to have a business model that can support the management of all this new data. New sets of companies will begin to arise such as large call centers, software companies, and groups of healthcare professionals who watch, manage, and respond to all this inbound data. Digital health apps will then allow providers to effectively communicate findings, manage, and coordinate patient care in a growing complex environment.
Reduced Insurance Fraud
Everyone knows it is always an uphill battle with insurance. These companies are constantly on guard, attempting to protect themselves from fraud. Medicare fraud alone accounts for $60 billion annually lost due to waste, abuse, or improper payments. Mobile apps can help reduce fraud mainly because the technology can track people and transactions through space and time. An institution like Medicare would be able to correlate claims with location and time frame to search for fraud. Imagine visiting a pharmacy, scanning your Medicare card, and then finishing your medication purchase digitally. An app would allow Medicare to instantly trace and have record of the transaction. Hotspots of activity and suspicious transactions could be identified in real time rather than months later when it is nearly impossible to trace the fraudulence back to origin.
Better Patient Safety
We’ve already seen the rise of sensors or monitors like Fitbit, Smartwatches, and a plethora of other health tech gadgets. Digital apps have already given patients better tools to manage their own health. This type of digital transformation will seep deeper into the industry. When you’re discharged from the hospital, most leave with a handful of papers and very little memory or instruction on what is supposed to happen next. Imagine if all the information you needed for a safe and speedy recovery were handed to you on a mobile app. An app can remind you to do physical therapy, take your pills, send an update or question to your doctor, and even help automate the complex stream of paperwork that comes with healthcare.
In the future, everything that can be done digitally will be done digitally. This type of digital transformation is not something that can be ignored. Mobile apps focused on healthcare will disrupt the industry and doctors and medical practices who acknowledge this as a power for good will end up on top. These types of changes will engage patients with their healthcare, help protect against fraud, and offer healthcare in new ways that can radically improve performance and recovery.
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