With the quantity of mobile health apps on the marketplace, it can be difficult to decipher how good an app actually is. Four main categories can be used to separate the good apps from the bad ones; these four categories are also used by patients and healthcare professionals to decide whether an app would be useful in the healthcare system.
Healthcare is far behind other sectors of society in introducing mobile app technologies. Patient safety is extremely important and many doctors and physicians believe that health apps are too risky to introduce. Both healthcare professionals and consumers (patients) must determine which apps will be useful and provide accurate data in the healthcare system and which will not.
If the app does exactly what it claims to do; giving clear, precise data, healthcare professionals are more likely to believe the app is useful to them and implement it into the healthcare system. The only way mobile health apps will be implemented throughout the healthcare system is if they are seen as valuable to both the healthcare professional and the patient.
Probably the most important factor of a mobile health app’s success is user experience. If patients don’t like the app in the first place, it is very unlikely that they will continue to use it in the long term, which would render its implementation into the healthcare system pointless. The design of a health app must keep patients coming back to use it; this can be done using simple methods such as well-designed graphics and colours, or more complicated features like gamification or incentives. Although the latter will add to the cost of development, it will be beneficial in the long run as it will vastly increase the app’s chance of success within the healthcare system. Outlining the target audience of an app is very important and can also be vital to an app’s success in the healthcare system.
One of the biggest problems in mass introducing mobile health apps into the healthcare system comes from the public and their privacy and data protection concerns. If apps don’t protect patient’s data or convince patients that their data is secure and not being handed over to a third party, patient’s confidence in mobile health apps is unlikely to increase. Recent evidence has shown that both the privacy and security features of mobile health apps require further improvements; until this happens, mobile health apps are unlikely to be introduced into the healthcare system on a wide scale.
For a mobile app to be introduced into the healthcare system, it must be cost effective and save both patients and healthcare professionals money. This is probably the most obvious factor, and it’s the one that healthcare professionals will look to first. If it costs the healthcare system or patients more money than a technology that’s already in use, there is little chance it will be introduced into the healthcare system.
It can be extremely difficult for mobile apps to be successfully implemented into the healthcare system. Healthcare professionals dislike new technology that doesn’t give them a noticeable advantage in how they work or the data they are given; and patients dislike mobile apps that are difficult to use and don’t save them money.
For mobile apps to break into the healthcare system, these four themes should be continuously used to decide whether an idea can be successful for both healthcare professionals and patients alike.