Is healthcare the future of mobile apps?

At the beginning of 2013, Apple announced that its customers have downloaded more than 40 billion apps with 20 billion in 2012 alone. These are some staggering figures and show how influential these little super computers in our pockets are to humankind, after all that’s nearly 6 apps for every person alive today (calculated using the ever engrossing World Population Clock).

And with all these apps being developed and downloaded, there is burgeoning area that is beginning to stand out – healthcare.

ABI Research estimates that the market for mobile healthcare apps will be worth $400 million by 2016, while the market research company Research2Guidance claims 247 million mobile phone users had downloaded a health related app in 2012.

A recent article by Bill Yates from iMEdicalApps highlighted the overall Google search traffic since 2007 for specific keywords associated with healthcare / medical apps and the growth is undeniable.

Apple has even launched an ‘Apps for Healthcare Professionals’ collection within its AppStore’s Medical Category which covers different sectors like nursing, monitoring, imaging and patient education. The Medical Category has 240 health topics on its front page alone and an estimated 13,000 individual apps. For all makes of smartphone and tablets, there are said to be around 40,000 healthcare apps available.

The difference between healthcare and wellness

Now, its important to emphasize the distinction between healthcare and ‘wellness’ which is something we deal with on a daily basis. The former is concerned with medical issues and include a host of regulatory issues while the former is concerned with achieving and maintaining general fitness.

Whats happening in healthcare?

Advancements over the past few years have opened up a whole new world for areas like entertainment, but as technology continues to move forward, it continues to open up the capacity for people from far-flung areas of the world to communicate as easily as if they lived in the same home. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other services help link individuals to each other, facilitating instant contact and these lines of communication are also being leveraged by health care professionals.

The expanding use of electronic health records (EHRs) has allowed doctors to pass patient information along to colleagues and specialists for consultation. Flash forward a few years and now doctors and hospitals are using these tools to keep in touch with their patients and learn about them before they ever enter the hospital or office for examination or treatment in completely new ways.

Healthcare focused apps could potentially cut down the amount of time needed for gathering background information (the research is still being carried out), and if collected properly could be transferable in the event a patient switches doctors or health care providers.

Technology isn’t just for doctors anymore

Thanks to health informatics, patients are getting the ability to access their records, test their results and get recommendations from physicians over the Internet instead of having to go out (great for those with disabilities) to the doctor’s office and wait for printed reports, saving unnecessary paperwork and travel time.

Today, anyone with an Android or iPhone has access to different applications that allow them to monitor calorie count, track when they should take their medications, keep in touch with doctors and shop for insurance plans – all from the palm of their hands. We’re looking forward to the day when these apps can help doctors and patients collaborate on healthcare.

What healthcare related apps do you use? Let us know in the comments.