Making Wellness Accessible With Mobile Healthcare Apps
Posted By : Arpita Pal | 04-Dec-2023
Healthcare is an integral part of our lives that dictates how we sustain ourselves and keep us away from medical problems that can negatively impact our quality of life. Medical facilities act as our guardians in fulfilling this necessity by providing us with essential care in cases of illness or emergencies. The recent pandemic, however, reflected the greater need to bring the services closer to people, as many situations arose that made it nearly impossible for them to visit hospitals for their health-related concerns. Mobile healthcare apps rose to prominence in these situations and continue to enjoy its popularity for its instant accessibility and higher convenience. People can directly schedule/ reschedule appointments, order medications from pharmacies, arrange lab tests and home collection and receive crucial information for their medical issues within the accessibility of their homes. Healthcare institutions have realized the immense importance of having a medium between them and their patients to improve customer experience and develop long-lasting loyalty. But what makes a mobile healthcare app successful? This article aims to explore the important features mobile healthcare apps should integrate and how it aids both medical professionals and patients in delivering effective healthcare.
Must-Have Features For Developing a Healthcare Based App
1. Appointment scheduling: A healthcare mobile app negates the requirement to visit the hospital physically as a patient user can directly book an appointment from the app by selecting their choice of specialty, doctor, hospital branch or online video interaction, time and date. According to the availability of the doctor, the appointment is booked and the confirmation is sent out to the patient. The patient can then attend the session and make payment from the convenience of their home or their choice of location. In most cases, the payment is done beforehand through online payment methods supported by secure payment gateways.
2. Video Conferencing / Online Appointment: One of the essential features that makes a healthcare mobile app accessible, is its ability to provide real-time communication with a licensed doctor over a video call. The interface should be easy to navigate which can guide patients to book their appointment by opting for the preferred date, doctor and time on the app. On the day of the appointment, with assistance from calling-based API or in-built video conferencing support within the app, users can easily connect with the doctor. Along with video conferencing support, the chat feature and access to file storage files should also be embedded within the appâ€™s code so that users can share prescriptions, or any type of health-related document such as prescriptions, lab reports etc with the doctor during or after/before the call for the a comprehensive healthcare experience.
3. Feature To Check Symptoms: Oftentimes, patients are not always sure if the symptoms they are experiencing require medical assistance or not. Mobile healthcare apps have databases of healthcare information where patients can confirm whether the discomfort they are experiencing matches with any medical condition or not. In case it does indicate a specific condition, patients can schedule an appointment with a doctor within the app. But it does not match any such case, it will provide relief to the user and either wait for the symptoms to abate or seek medical attention to clear their doubts. Healthcare apps can also be integrated with chatbot facilities to automate the process of checking symptoms with artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. This would assist the chatbot features to provide 24/7 support with instant replies and informational guidance.
4. Health Monitoring Features: It is essential for mobile healthcare apps to provide the functionality of letting users check, track and monitor their health status to aid them in living a healthy lifestyle. Some of the present medical devices that can be integrated with smartphones available in the market are, StethIO (Stethoscope integration), CellScope (for checking pediatric infections), AliveKor (portable EKG machine), etc that provide medical services as Point-of-Care apps and devices for resource-limited areas. Such devices can provide instant status of the userâ€™s medical health which can be further communicated in the online appointment with the doctor or have better understanding of their own health. It can prove to be greatly useful for both patient and healthcare side, as patients can monitor their health status over time and healthcare professionals can get better insights into patientsâ€™ medical conditions.
5. Payment Systems Integration: Online payment facilities are imperative to conduct online doctor appointments with patients for successful remuneration of the services provided. Developers of mobile healthcare apps can incorporate APIs for payment gateways that allow users to make payments for their medical appointments through preferred online methods namely credit/ debit, digital wallets, net banking etc. Convenience in payment systems can greatly enhance usersâ€™ experience of the healthcare app as smooth transaction experience can facilitate easier appointment scheduling and receiving the required medical care.
6. Record Management: A well-maintained healthcare database that can guarantee the user quick access to their digital prescriptions, pharmacy orders from the app, and generated lab reports greatly adds to a beneficial medical experience. Instant accessibility can assist users in showcasing their results to doctors during their video interaction, monitoring their health and buying medicines as per prescriptions directly from the app for higher convenience.
How Mobile Healthcare Apps Enhance Delivery of Medical Facilities
For Healthcare Providers
1. Secure Patient Data Management: Mobile healthcare apps serve as a great medium for secure patient data retrieval which can include prescriptions, lab reports, previous consultations, etc from a centralized platform that facilitates greater patient data management. They can be accessed either remotely or from the hospital itself as per the requirement which provides a clearer understanding of the patientâ€™s medical history and essential information that doctors should be aware of before prescribing a treatment plan. It eliminates repetition of efforts, saves crucial time with quick retrieval of data and reduces the cost of healthcare for patients by only doing what is necessary. With regulatory complainces such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) mandatorily applicable for healthcare apps, both healthcare providers' and patientsâ€™ privacy and safety interests can be safeguarded effectively with such measures.
2. Enhanced Patient Engagement: Despite the wider availability of healthcare facilities in larger cities, there still exists a great potential to fill in wider gaps in terms of instant accessibility. Mobile healthcare apps step up to the role of removing barriers to communication between medical providers and patients through online interaction with video calls, chat and file-sharing features. Through such applications, doctors are able to provide guidance and treatment depending on their availability, requirements and preferences which helps in providing quality care to the patient. Moreover, digital interaction allows recording previous consultations and interactions with the patient which can benefit future medical research and treatment plans for patients in general.
3. Reduced Burnout: The pandemic was a great example of how remote availability of healthcare guidance can greatly assist in providing quality healthcare to patients incapable of visiting hospitals in certain situations. Moreover, excessive footfall of patients dealing with various kinds of illnesses can overwhelm medical facilities and staff to the extent that it starts affecting the availability and quality of care given to them. Digital support with the help of healthcare apps makes it possible for patients dealing with less severe illnesses to receive guidance from their homes. This aids in removing a significant share of patients visiting the hospital due to which doctors and patients can focus on those that require the most amount of critical care and overall reduces burnout for the medical staff.
1) Instant Access to Healthcare: Medical emergencies are cases where patients require utmost urgent care and receiving timely care from a hospital often becomes difficult to achieve due to distance or lack of resources. In such cases, mobile healthcare apps can act as a savior for such people by providing instant access to professional guidance from a healthcare provider. By the time the patient reaches the hospital, the doctor can guide them with life-saving directions to delay any further issues. Also, in remote areas where medical facilities are sparse in numbers, online medical guidance can provide essential care in times of distress to people and lead them on a path to recovery with proper treatment plans. They also act as a great source of help for working professionals who oftentimes do not get time on weekdays to visit hospitals for their concerns. Instead, they can receive medical treatment from the convenience of their homes at the time they prefer for their health concerns.
2) Simplified Efforts For Higher Preference: Healthcare apps offer a large variety of doctors for various specialties with varying degrees of experience. Patients can search for their preferred doctor or a doctor with specific qualifications, availability and specialty by applying filters in their search and can choose one that suits their requirements. Easy-to-navigate interfaces and an engaging UI/UX design can make it more simplified for the user to search for what they are looking for with greater convenience. From the medical professionalâ€™s side, they can confirm or cancel the request for the online appointment as per their availability.
3) Secure Payment Options: To make the services of the healthcare app feasible, seamless transactions between the patient and the healthcare providers for online appointments is essential. Through integration of APIs for payment gateways with the app, people can successfully make payments for various medical services namely, online appointments, pharmacy orders, lab testing and home collection etc directly from the app beforehand for a smooth experience. The medical providers as well as healthcare facilities can receive direct payments from patients adding to higher number of services availed and greater remuneration received for their services.
Mobile healthcare apps are here to completely revolutionize healthcare delivery and are providing new definitions of convenience when it comes to availing medical facilities. Such apps are the next step for the digital revolution in the healthcare industry and will continue to experience integration of dynamic functionalities that people can take advantage of while sitting at their homes. Hospitals are already utilizing progressive technologies such as artificial intelligence, deep learning, neural networks and more in performing surgeries, advanced laboratory tests and providing strong analytical support within medical research for further advancement to improve standard of living. With healthcare apps, it will now witness how such technologies can progressively enhance the basic level by providing digital support to direct interaction between the doctor and the patient.
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