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mHealth - How Mobile Devices Can Change Healthcare

icon15 August 2023
iconMemory Squared

Table of Contents

A short introduction to mobile health

When the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, the whole world, including the healthcare industry, was forced to move online. Remote work, quarantine and the general closure of every public place, including hospitals and clinics, were the factors that exacted the world utilise digital technology.. The pandemic meant that people were trapped in their homes without the possibility to consult a doctor, a dietitian or any other health specialist.

While eHealth and mHealth existed before the pandemic, it was this event when the importance of mobile health technology got recognition and mobile health applications became a hot topic in both the healthcare and IT industries.

mHealth is an umbrella term referring to every type of service or application that is available from a mobile device such as a smartphone or a smartwatch, and its main objective is to support the healthcare industry.

The main difference between eHealth and mHealth is the type of device used - while in the term eHealth, every type of electronic equipment is embraced, in mHealth it's limited to mobile devices only.

mHealth app usage - potential of mobile health app development

The forecast experts are showing that the value of the health industry market is constantly improving - while in 2022 the market value was 132,7 billion dollars, this year it should reach 181,1 billion dollars and 244,3 billion dollars next year. It's a great sign for mHealth app developers - the world of mHealth apps is getting recognized in global markets and shows areas for improvement and development.

mHealth apps can be divided into several categories which we will go into below. 

A smartwatch showing a mHealth app
Invention of wearable devices was a great step into a new phase of mHealth software development

Remote monitoring apps

Since the invention of wearable gear, this is one of the most dynamically developing types of app.

Remote monitoring apps focus on virtual care and monitor a  patient's blood glucose levels, oxygen levels, heart rate, and blood pressure. The app can be connected to wearable gear or specialized medical equipment, like a glucose meter, and send the data to both the user itself and their doctor. They could be also equipped with an alarm for the care team in case of an emergency.

Oura Ring - a small device with many possibilities

Oura Ring is one of the most interesting wearable devices on the market. While smartwatches are now very common, this invention gathers all the medical use of a smartwatch in the form of a small finger band. Oura Ring can track sleep, sense blood oxygen levels, detect your stress or anxiety levels and serve as a workout-assistance device. It's fully compatible with iOS and Android, as well as a few other mHealth apps, and is available in many different languages. A true game-changer!

OMRON - a blood pressure monitor your doctor would love

OMRON is a blood pressure monitor, which can connect to your mobile device and save your results in a dedicated app. No more writing your results on a piece of paper - these digital notes can easily be shown to your doctor on your mobile phone screen. The monitor is also equipped with a big LCD screen, which makes it easier to use for elderly people.

Veri - glucose always under monitoring

Veri is a small device invented for those who have metabolic issues but also suffer from diabetes. Veri is a tiny button-like machine that you apply on your skin. The device measures your metabolism and glucose levels through blood, showing you the results on your mobile phone screen and recommending foods to eat for those levels to stabilise. The device can not only eliminate metabolic problems, but can also reduce snacking and improve sleeping habits.

A document pad
Digitalization of medical records became one of the main goals of hospital administration development

Clinical and diagnostic apps

Clinical and diagnostic apps are exclusively for use by hospital staff. This type of mHealth app provides doctors and physicians with an appointment management system and also gives easier access to patients' data, medical reports, and lab results. This small improvement can lead to easier work for both hospital staff and patients.

The Prevention TaskForce - an official U.S. app for doctors

This is an official app for checking patients’ information and searching for available screening, counselling, and medication services. Primary care doctors can use the app to find the right resources for their patients’ needs. This application is free and works on browsers, Android and Apple devices. In addition, healthcare workers and institutions can request access to the API.

Logos of Fitness RPG and Calm
Healthy living software became a great help in daily health caring

Healthy Living apps

This is a very popular type of healthcare service.

The healthy living app provides a basic understanding of personal health and helps with tracking daily activities for healthier living.

In this category, you can find apps that you can freely download from the Google Play store or Apple store, such as diet tracking apps, exercising apps, or sleep phase trackers. Even if they are not usually recommended by doctors, these apps help to maintain a healthy lifestyle and lower the possibility of illnesses connected to, for example, lack of movement, sleep, or an unhealthy diet. 

Calm - for meditation lessons and improved sleep

Calm is an app that covers a few different areas - it tracks your sleep, helping you to optimize your rest, but also teaches meditation, proposes calming playlists to chill or focus, shows gentle stretching tricks, and educates -  covering subjects such as stress management, wellbeing, dealing with work problems and so on. It's an all-in-one app for people who want to learn how to practice self-care!

Fitness Fantasy - an RPG game that makes you move!

Mobile games are gaining popularity rapidly, so why not connect them with something healthy? Fitness Fantasy is a game that connects to the user's device's pedometer. The player can level their characters up by walking! It's fun and healthy - the ideal balance between duty and pleasure!

A colorful inscription
PEPID started developing in 2012 and until now is one of the best known clinical content app available!

Clinical reference apps

Clinical reference apps are the favourite of medical students, since they provide information about the human body and illnesses themselves, but also can contain ICD classification codes. Their primary purpose is to increase knowledge of the human body, diseases and new technicalities in healthcare organizations. The most noticeable functions of this kind of app are as a drug interaction checker, medical calculator, and providing prescription safety information and medical reports. They could also serve as tools for board exam preparations and skill assessment tests.

PEPID - a complete catalogue of medical information

PEPID is a website and mobile app directed at both healthcare organizations and medical students. It contains over 3000 medical calculators and a very detailed drug identifier, but also an allergy checker and detailed descriptions of diseases with useful photos. It's a great mHealth app for anyone who wants to expand their health knowledge.

A smartphone and a calendar
Planning is always easier with a plain, organized app

Productivity apps

Mobile health has a variety of apps that help providers improve their productivity and efficiency. These apps include functions such as scheduling home healthcare, charting on mobile devices, dictation from remote locations, and communication within a business. The most effective apps offer all these functions while maintaining HIPAA compliance.

HealthTap - one tap to get healthy!

HealthTap is one of the health apps that gained popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic. With this app, you can easily get a doctor's appointment or prescription online! You can choose whether you need a one-time appointment or you need long-term support. It’s a great tool to help take care of oneself in these busy times.

VisualDX - an AI identification tool

This program is a visual reference tool that combines encyclopedic knowledge with AI - it helps to identify disease from the look of patient’s symptoms. There's also a platform connected to the app, where doctors can discuss their cases and compare opinions. These mobile health apps can support doctors’ work efficiently!

Challenges of mHealth apps

Mobile health apps seem to be a natural next stage of improving healthcare services.

The key benefits of mobile health applications are that with just a few clicks the app analyzes the patient data, medical records, health conditions and any medical information needed.

But digital health still raises some controversies, which could be a challenge for mHealth app developers.

A statistics about most feared doubts in using a mHealth app
Medical data protection is the most raised doubt while using a mHealth app (source: Accenture)

Health data

This doubt is often raised especially in the case of applications made to check electronic health records. Medical data is private, comprehensive, and valuable, and is therefore at risk of being stolen. mHealth technology argues that safety is not an issue, but some still doubt that patient data or healthcare providers' information is completely safe.

A statistics about different generations preferences between a virtual and in-person experiences with medical professionals
While elderly generation still prefers a physical contact with a doctor, youngsters are getting used to digital experiences (source: Accenture)

Mobile devices

Even though mobile devices have become enormously widespread nowadays, a large group of people not using mobile phones still exists. This leads to technological exclusion of this group and, if we're considering a transfer of some healthcare services to mHealth applications, healthcare exclusion. Healthcare services such as virtual video consultations or appointment bookings would become difficult for them.


Interventions and collaborations among systems developers, behavioural experts, healthcare professionals, and patients need more investment and development to promote the use of mobile health systems. Collaboration could be crucial in creating an efficient mHealth app for both healthcare providers and patients. However, gathering such a team can be challenging.

A smartphone in female's hand
Electronic devices can be a great help, but also a distraction - it can be difficult to separate this two factors

Technology as distraction

Healthcare providers found certain negative aspects about using mHealth technologies in their routine tasks, such as the interruptions caused by technology, the need for multitasking, increased workload within a limited time, and potential strain on relationships. Additionally, they faced personal challenges, such as difficulty in using healthcare technologies, and a lack of trust and awareness regarding their potential and functions.

Who could use an mHealth app?

Knowing all the possibilities and challenges of developing an mHealth app, there are several groups that can see obvious benefits from using an mHealth app.

A caretaker holding an elderly person
A well developed software can make life of patients and their caretakers much easier

Chronic disease patients

The monitoring apps can be really useful in the case of chronic disease patients - they can empower them in terms of disease management, especially in remote monitoring. They can help patients check their vitals such as blood pressure, but also store their health parameters or medical images for healthcare professionals to access in the case of an emergency.

If the patient is bed-bound, such apps can be used for home healthcare scheduling.

Students sitting in their desks
Medicine students are happy with every help they can find - especially if it's a systematized knowledge in a form of an app!

Medicine students

Mobile apps are very popular among students of every field - dictionaries, exam preparations or flashcard apps are the most popular types. The mobile health apps can help show students how the health systems are working, how to store medical data, or could simply be a source of reliable medical information for young people.

Healthcare professionals

mHealth technology can also be a huge advancement in professional medical research. Such apps can perform data analysis quicker and perform digital imaging with a lower margin of error.. More and more apps are also developing in the field of mobile charting, which can be of help in terms of understanding how diseases are affecting patients’ mental health.

Automatization of administration processes could be beneficial for both the hospital and their patients

Healthcare organizations

In hospitals, private clinics and emergency health services there are many processes that could be automatised. In the healthcare sector, they include tracking upcoming appointments, medical data storage, disease management and doctors' schedule planning, and virtual care such as digital prescriptions. An efficient mHealth app can also remind patients about their appointments, increasing patient engagement.

Everyday users

Health management is not necessarily connected with healthcare organizations. Mobile health apps can also be a type of non-specialistic healthcare provider. Mood trackers, diet calculators, sleeping habit trackers or any kind of mental health-supporting mobile apps can be easily downloaded on patients' devices.. They can improve patient health without the need to visit a specialist and promote healthy lifestyles among a range of people.

A bandage with a sticker saying
We still haven't developed a scratch of what Artificial Intelligence could do - a further research will also be beneficial for eHealth and mHealth technologies

AI in mHealth

The use of Artificial Intelligence is spreading into a wide range of areas, so it’s natural that health technology is also incorporating AI. AI can process massive amounts of information quickly and give back detailed analysis, which can help in clinical decision-making.

Data management in mHealth apps

This helps patients check their medical history or online prescriptions, but it's also of use when an emergency happens and a healthcare institution needs to check the medical data of a new, unknown patient. This helps in delivering medical help faster and more easily.

Mental health apps

Mental health apps are quickly becoming one of the best tools in the healing process. These programs help track moods, and emotions, and work to help patients understand the processes of different mental illnesses. They can also calm down a user by regulating their breathing and helping them focus on different tasks. They are generally useful in helping users relax and provide a boost to their mental health.  

A hooded person working on laptop
Every app that contains personal information is a target for hackers - a security technology development is essential while thinking about mHealth app

High security - medical data under protection

Healthcare apps are inviting hackers as they contain lots of sensitive information. The development of mobile health apps will, therefore, quicken the development of data security, which could also be used in other areas that use sensitive data.

Remote health and telehealth

Even after the pandemic, the tendency to use a remote option to contact a doctor is still very visible. Busy lifestyles or troubles with communication demand more flexible access to healthcare, and healthcare apps are a solution to that.

Expectations of mHealth app development

Mobile health technology is evolving quickly, as the technology itself, as well as the patient's awareness of it, is increasing. Mobile health apps have become a tool used widely by both healthcare organizations and mobile phone users. So what does it take to develop a successful health mobile app?

If you want insight into app development in general, we recommend our article about that.

right arrowApp Development Stages: How Long Does It Take To Make An App?

Product discovery - idea and receivers

Successful mobile applications often start with a core idea and a specific target group. These can be expanded once the app is established.  Before your app can go all-purpose, focus on the smaller audience and build a stable MVP before incorporating bigger ideas into your mobile app development.

Product design - what would it look like?

Creating mobile health apps you should not only focus on their utility but also their looks. The app should look professional but also be easy to use. An experienced software house will provide you with their UX/UI experts, who would be happy to offer you pieces of advice on this stage of app development.

Product deployment - how to announce your mobile app

Creating and developing a mHealth mobile app is only half the job. After the app development stage begins the moment of customer acquisition - the users will be the ones to dictate the app’s success.In the case of mobile health technology, it could be a good idea to reach out to healthcare services directly - healthcare professionals and healthcare organizations can promote your mHealth app if they see a benefit coming out of it.

Are mHealth applications the future of healthcare?

Mobile health technology is needed in today's world. Since healthcare is facing many challenges with overworked and under qualified staff, it will try to find ways to automate processes, and this is where mobile health apps have their place to grow and thrive. Mobile applications are now widely used by people of all ages, and mobile health apps are going to be a big part of that market very soon. 

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