The global digital health market size was valued at $96.5 billion in 2020, with an annual growth estimate of more than 15% until 2028. In addition, according to a GSMA study, smartphones will achieve a market penetration of around 80% by 2025, which implies a growing adoption of mobile health apps by both doctors and patients.
Health Apps are mobile applications that solve or simplify many medical challenges: they track patient health data, provide remote assistance, allow access to doctors 24/7 and can give health advice, among others. The digital health niche is very broad, and the types of health apps can be very different depending on the objectives and benefits they provide.
If we analyze the different types of Health Apps on the market, we can segment them based on 3 main audiences: Patients, Medical Staff and Hospitals.
A health app for patients does not always require the involvement of a health professional, but even so, they can provide the patient with a lot of information relevant to their health. Examples of applications for patients would be the Prevenmama app, which helps prevent breast cancer; or the Coronacheck app, which guarantees safety in respiratory therapies. Health applications for patients can include one or more functionalities, such as telehealth and telemedicine apps; remote tracking and monitoring apps; IoT medical apps; health apps for women; mental health apps; apps for establishing healthy habits; fitness and wellness apps; networking apps, such as support groups; electronic clinical record apps; marketplace apps, usually health, directories and medical centers; appointment scheduling apps; apps health chatbots and food apps.
A health app for medical staff usually involves doctors and nursing professionals. These types of apps, which act as a bridge in communication and treatment processes between medical personnel and patients, are called professional apps. Examples of applications for medical personnel would be an e-learning application for healthcare personnel; or the Walkway app, which helps in the surgical follow-up of patients. Health applications for healthcare personnel usually include one or more of the following functionalities: shift and vacation management apps; professional networking apps; diagnostic apps; electronic clinical record apps; marketplace apps; appointment scheduling apps; telehealth and telemedicine apps; remote monitoring apps; and IoT medical apps, usually medical devices.
A health app for hospitals seeks to solve the different administration and management challenges that medical centers face. An example would be a mobile expense control application for hospitals. The functionalities that these apps usually have are one or more of the following: inventory management apps; billing apps; electronic clinical record apps; marketplace apps; and appointment scheduling apps.
When it comes to how to develop a health app, first of all you need to identify what problem you want to solve. Just like in business, developing an app can be a waste of time and money if it doesn’t add value to the user who uses it. The fundamental step, as a starting point to find this value, is to be able to answer the following question: What problem am I looking to solve with my app?
Perhaps the problem you are looking to solve is helping Alzheimer’s patients with a cognitive stimulation medical app, or perhaps you are thinking of developing an app that helps detect the risk of breast cancer. Maybe you want to facilitate the surgical follow-up of patients or offer medical masters and postgraduate courses with an e-learning application. Maybe you are looking for how to optimize hospital resources with an expense control app. Or maybe your goal is to improve the performance and technique of runners through a fitness app.
Whatever your idea, it has to be based on a well-identified problem in the market where you want to launch your health app.
Once this problem has been identified and the value proposition defined, you will have to continue with the market study: Investigate the niche and identify your competitors. What value does it offer? What are its strengths and weaknesses? And most importantly: How can your health app stand out from all of them?
Also, be sure to comply with Medical Certifications and Data Protection. This is a critical step for health app development teams. Medical care is a very sensitive topic and as a consequence, medical apps are too. When planning the development of health apps, it is essential to comply with data protection regulations as well as medical certifications, depending on the app to be developed.