mHealth Is Growing Area, But Underfunded, Understaffed

March 1, 2016

All-Industry-logos-Health webHealthcare providers and systems are overwhelmingly in favor of adapting mobile health (mHealth) applications and growing their use, but studies show that in many of their budgets, these efforts are underfunded and understaffed.

In the Healthcare Information and Management Systems (HIMSS) Mobile Technology Survey, conducted yearly by the organization, results indicate approximately 60 percent of respondents indicated they currently use mHealth applications as part of their services, or are in the process of developing organization-specific applications.

“These numbers are right on target with what we expect the growth to be in the mHealth application arena,” said Larry Thompson, DISYS Managing Director in Healthcare Services. “Industry research and key indicators suggest mHealth is the fastest-growing area of application development on the market today.”

However, while providers and health conglomerates are attempting key strides in the mHealth area, studies show there are many barriers to mobile technology in the Healthcare Industry, and the most glaring hurdle is budget.

The HIMSS survey shows a lack of funding continues to be a major impediment to the effective use of mobile technology. More than 51 percent of those surveyed said they are underfunded and understaffed – clearly indicating the Healthcare Industry is not fully exploiting the mHealth market.

“We are sensitive to how increasingly difficult it is, with changing regulations and patient demands for applications that will meet their needs, to also be cost-effective for the organization,” said Quinn VanGorden, DISYS Managing Director for Healthcare Services. “Growing concerns over safety and security of electronic health records (EHRs) are also at the forefront of the discussion.”

Government mandates such as Meaningful Use, and ever-changing security guidelines, are making it difficult for healthcare companies to create and release applications that stay current with them. However, recent reports by mHealth Intelligence provide powerful numbers: The mHealth application industry is worth nearly $500 million.

“When applications in this industry are created in such a way that they can grow with the business and address the needs of the customer, then real profit is possible in the mHealth industry,” expressed Fernando Abreu, Director of DISYS Application Development Practice.

From the consumer’s perspective, the top three areas of interest for mHealth applications are:

Connectivity to Other Applications. Healthcare application users are tired of one-off apps they cannot integrate to get the full picture.

“Today’s consumers are more tech-savvy than ever, and they are more conscious of their time,” says Abreu. “They want an integrated experience that gives them their records, their exercise data, and their prescription refills, all in one consolidated application.”

Remote Monitoring and Access to Physicians. Today, the consumer wants to be able to reach his provider at the touch of a button or the opening of a chat window. For easily handled health issues, he does not want to scroll through a list of hundreds of contacts to finally hear a voice. According to Van Gorden, “There are some healthcare services who do this very well through their applications. But the majority of providers are lagging behind in providing quick, direct access to a provider.”

Special Attention to Data Security and Compliance. Consumers agree that while they may not have immediate knowledge of a data breach, if they hear of one within their healthcare network, they will often immediately delete or stop using their mHealth application. Security and confidentiality of their medical information is a top priority.

While consumers do not assign dollar values to their electronic healthcare records, some experts say a person’s health record is worth ten times more than a stolen credit card as it gives insight into a person’s entire medical history.

There is no one-stop, out-of-the-box mHealth application solution for healthcare providers. Each organization is at a different place within their mHealth adoption and creation process.

But what is important to realize, is a fully-functional mHealth application can make or break a provider or organization, and safety, security, ease of use, and full accessibility have to be top priorities.

Digital Intelligence Systems, LLC (DISYS) offers an Application Development Team with professional experience in all phases and aspects of application development. Our Healthcare experts are at the forefront of industry trends, and are innovating ways to accelerate productivity for providers and enhance consumer satisfaction. Find out additional facts about the mHealth market by reading our white paper, The State of Healthcare Mobile Application Development.