Having a chronic illness is not the best thing that could ever happen to you, but dealing with it is an everyday routine for millions of people. To manage chronic illness, they need to remember what medications to take and when, keep in mind when the next appointment with the doctor is, track the symptoms and a lot of other data.
This could be a tiresome and time-consuming process if all you use is a notebook or notes on the phone. Such notes can get easily lost, and they don’t really help you keep track of everything you need to write down. This is why a new type of apps appeared - chronic condition health apps. Such apps help users manage their chronic illnesses more easily.
As the market of health apps is growing, let’s take a look at all you need to know if you want to join it and launch a successful web health app.
What Users Are Monitoring And How
If you want your app to be successful, you need to design it according to your users’ expectations and needs. So, let’s find out what users monitor with the help of chronic condition management apps and how.
There are two main types of data users track: physiological data and data related to exercises.
According to research conducted by Peter Leijdekkers and Valerie Gay, users monitor the following physiological data with the help of apps:
- blood pressure (28.5 %);
- blood glucose (28.1 %);
- weight (27 %);
- heart rate (5.5 %);
- other (10.9%).
Other data users track includes oxygen, asthma, respiration, HbA1c, cholesterol and temperature. However, the fraction of users doing so is relatively low.
The research has also shown that some use complimentary apps in order to monitor the data related to diabetes, blood pressure and weight loss. The main reasons for doing so are fear of losing the existing data and unwillingness to change the service provider. So, if you want users to stick to using your app, make sure you allow importing data from other health apps.
As for monitoring exercises, it comprises 5.7% of the total monitoring activities. Exercises that users track with the help of health apps are:
- walking activities (70.2 %);
- cycling (5.6 %);
- weight training (4.7 %);
- running/jogging (4.2 %);
- treadmill (3.3 %).
How do apps track the data? There are two potential options: manual data input (for instance, users measure the blood pressure and then write down the results) or real-time tracking with the help of wireless sensors or the device’s hardware. The latter one is used mostly for tracking data related to exercises in real time, such as heart rate, calories burnt, body temperature and respiration rate. Besides, it is possible to take advantage of built-in GPS for accurate outdoor distance tracking.
The majority of users (88.6 %) prefer to input the data themselves without using any sensor. Real-time data tracking is popular in case of exercise monitoring.
When it comes to on-demand vs continuous data tracking, 94.5 % of users prefer the former one. It could be explained by the fact that most users monitor the physiological data that doesn’t require continuous tracking. The latter one is usually the case for users tracking their progress in exercising over a long period of time.
The Main Issues Of The US Healthcare System
Why is there such a demand for health apps? Well, the US healthcare is far from being perfect, and this makes people look for other ways to take care of their wellbeing.
There are not enough nurses and other healthcare professionals. The demand for qualified healthcare specialists grows faster than the supply on the labor market. 90% of healthcare facilities lack nurses to provide the basic care, and 126,000 positions remain vacant across the country.
Considering that the number of people with chronic illnesses keeps rising and already reached staggering 133 million people (45% of the total US population), the lack of healthcare professionals is expected to increase and impact more Americans.
Besides, the US spending on health care per capita is the highest in the world ($10,300+ in 2017). Obviously, not all Americans can afford health services, especially the ones in the Medicaid gap and without health insurance. 86% of the total healthcare expenditures are dedicated to those with chronic and mental conditions.
Types Of Health Apps
All the stats and trends described above stimulate the demand for health apps, and this industry is predicted to be worth $60 billion by 2020.
Generally, we can divide the health apps into two major categories: doctor apps and patient apps. The apps from the first category are developed specifically for doctors and other healthcare specialists. The second type of apps is created to be used by patients themselves in order to monitor the necessary data in their everyday lives.
If we dive deeper into what kinds of apps are out there, we can distinguish the following categories by their primary use purpose:
- apps for tracking the data related to chronic illnesses;
- women health apps (menstruation calendar, pregnancy tracking, etc.);
- apps dedicated to weight loss and diet tracking;
- mental health apps;
- sleep apps (tracking the sleep cycle, etc.);
- healthy lifestyle apps (general data related to wellness, fitness, etc.);
- nursing apps;
- doctor-on-demand apps (appointments, online consultations, etc.);
- medical record apps, etc.
Top 6 Popular Health Apps
Do you want to see your own on this list one day? Take a look at the front-runners in the industry to get some inspiration and take the best from them to add in your app.
Platforms: Android, iOS
Medisafe is an app dedicated to tracking and managing medications. Users get notifications reminding them to take their medications and are educated about the condition and the meds. This health mate web app also allows managing the dosage and sharing the information with the doctor or pharmacy. It is also compatible with smartwatches. The app developers emphasize that they use bank-level encryption and are compliant with HIPAA to highlight that the patients’ data is protected well.
Platforms: Android, iOS
This diary-like app is for those who suffer from chronic pains. It allows tracking the pain by manually inputting the data on where the pain is, its intensity, as well as monitoring other symptoms (stress, fatigue, etc.) and managing medications. Moreover, users can share their data and find others with the same disease to exchange their experiences and tips on how to manage chronic illness.
Platforms: Android, iOS
ZocDoc is a health web app that helps users find a doctor that specializes in treating their illness. It allows filtering doctors by the location and the insurance company network. The app also shows when the doctor you’ve chosen is available and his or her reviews and rating.
4. My Medical Info
This app’s purpose is to be that one place where users can keep all the information related to their health: family doctors contact details, medication and dosage information, health history (illnesses, surgeries, allergies, etc.). It also allows creating health profiles for all family members, setting reminders for appointments, and sharing the information via emails, fax or by printing it out.
Platforms: Android, iOS
Fooducate is dedicated to tracking weight loss and diet progress. The app is focused on helping its users make the healthiest choices when it comes to food. The key feature of the app is the health tracker for calories, nutritional values and food points.
6. Sleep Cycle
Platforms: Android, iOS
This health app is focused on providing its users the best sleeping and waking up experience. It tracks the data related to the length and the quality of the user’s sleep. It analyzes when you are in your lightest sleep to wake you up and let you enjoy how easy it can be to get up in the morning.
How Much It Costs To Make A Health App
It is impossible to give a precise quote in an article like this one because the development cost depends on a number of factors that are individual for every project, including:
- the features you would like to see in your app;
- how long it takes to develop such an app (depends on the functionality, the complexity of the UI, etc.);
- the platforms you want your app to work on and the type of development in case you want to launch it on several OSs (you can develop a native app for each OS from scratch or a cross-platform one which would be faster);
- developers’ hourly rates (a US developer will take up to $150 per hour while an Eastern European one would require $35-50 per hour).
If we break the medical app down into modules it may consist of, there are 6 modules for you to consider:
- digital medical records (4-6 weeks): this module allows creating a profile that contains all the medical data about the patient (hospitalization history, chronic diseases, etc.). It may come with automating all the workflows related to managing patients’ data if the app is developed for a medical institution;
- automating medical workflows (3-4 weeks): this component means automating every workflow related to medical procedures. It is closely tied to the previous one. It may include automating medications management, incidents and accidents, etc.;
- Medicare & Medicaid standards compliance (3-4 months): this could take the most time during the development. CMS standards are usually quite sophisticated, and your app has to follow every detail to comply with them. This module is especially crucial if you plan to develop an app for a medical facility;
- communication components (2-3 months): this module may include online consultations with healthcare specialists, scheduling appointments, chatting with other users of the app, etc.;
- integration with medical devices (2-3 months): while it can be a game changer for the user experience, the process of integrating the app with other medical equipment takes a lot of time. The reason is that the process if totally custom and depends on the device itself;
- mobile apps (2-3 months): this may include back-end and front-end development. Front-end development is focused on the user interface and all the processes happening on the user’s device. Back-end development is dedicated to establishing the connection between the server and the user’s devices. Very few apps don’t require back-end development nowadays as it allows signing into your account, communicating with other users, etc.
If you would like to find out how much our particular project would cost, describe your idea and requirements to the development company and request a quotation.
The Bottom Line
Considering all the issues present in the US healthcare system, the demand for health apps is bound to grow. If you are willing to embark on the journey to finding your niche in this market, remember: it is not enough to say you want a Samsung health web app. Think about what makes your app unique, why users would use it, and what features have to be implemented. And, lastly, choose the development company with relevant expertise and experience to bring your concept to life.