By Medical Web Experts

Mobile health apps are gaining an increasingly strong foothold in the healthcare industry – and with good reason. mHealth serves the dual purpose of collecting vast amounts of data on patients and their care, as well as improving communication between and among care team members and patients.

While consumer-oriented, single-purpose mhealth applications offering features like diet and exercise tracking have crowded the market for some years now, the exciting trend that has come about more recently is the advent of the comprehensive branded hospital app.

This trend came about because hospitals saw the range of benefits that mHealth applications can offer, such as:
– Making it possible to gather and analyze data on patient populations to yield organization-specific metrics on patient health indicators, services provided, and health outcomes attained
– Helping to meet data reporting requirements for programs like Meaningful Use and MACRA by improving the accuracy and scope of data entered into patient portals and EMRs
– Improving inter-provider coordination through better information sharing in patient handoffs within healthcare teams and in patient referrals
– Engaging patients in their own health by facilitating contact with providers and making it possible to share educational materials, treatment plans, and data visualization of test results and progress
– Raising medication adherence and appointment attendance rates, helping to raise reimbursement rates by meeting value-based care incentive thresholds and achieving workflow efficiencies

With these valuable prospects on the table, health systems and hospitals have begun their own healthcare mobile app development initiatives. The goal of the apps they are creating is to make features like appointments, medications, secure messaging, test results available to patients and providers on the go, often with the bonus of patient portal and EMR integration.

To what extent have health systems taken advantage of mHealth opportunities? And what challenges remain? To answer these questions, Medical Web Experts conducted a study on the state of the hospital mobile health market. The analysis included 22 top healthcare delivery networks in the US, according to Becker’s Hospital Review, that offer their own mHealth applications.

Review of each hospital’s app was aimed at collecting information on the following aspects:
– Whether the application was available to iOS users, Android users, or both
– App functionalities and features offered to patients and providers
– Quality of user experience
– Number of downloads across app stores
– User ratings across app stores

The results were notable. Of the health system apps investigated, all 22 were available in the iOS store, while only seven were available on Android. In addition to this failure to cater to the Android patient audience, a number of other drawbacks were seen across apps. One finding was that the functionalities offered by mHealth app features were limited, with health systems failing to take advantage of the possibilities that mHealth can offer. Descriptions of functionalities in the app stores were often also found to be misleading. Furthermore, the features that the apps provided were often not the healthcare app features that patients are most interested in, and they were not always assembled into single applications, with a multiplicity of apps within one health system. As evidence to these drawbacks, low app download numbers and poor app ratings were commonplace.

While today’s mHealth market has grown, much has yet to be attained. Healthcare mobile app development offers a plethora of opportunities for health systems that have not been tapped. To continue to make headway, embracing the possibilities that mHealth has to offer in terms of data science and improved outcomes, health delivery networks will need to focus on meeting patient expectations and demand. They will need to provide singular, branded apps with the functionalities that patients want and the metrics that healthcare organizations need for achieving optimal patient outcomes and increased reimbursement for providers.

Medical Web Experts is a leading provider of custom web development and marketing solutions for the healthcare industry, meeting sector’s the increasing demand for HIPAA-compliant technology and digital patient services. Medical Web Experts work with outpatient groups, hospitals, integrated delivery networks, pharmacies, laboratories, medical device manufacturers and software vendors to help them meet their online presence objectives. Medical Web Experts’ broad service offering includes patient portal solutions, mobile app development, custom software/app development, interface development, web design and internet marketing. Medical Web Experts creatively help clients to gain competitive edge leveraging the latest technologies to improve efficiency, enhance their web presence and improve patient engagement. I LinkedIn I Twitter I Facebook I YouTube

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