The smartphone has taken over the world and India is no exception. According to Indian Telecom statistics from TRAI, India’s mobile subscriber base has crossed the 1 billion mark in 2016. Researchers from Gartner estimate that in the next couple of years, a large chunk of these mobile subscribers will move to a smartphone. According to a report by Counterpoint Research, India has over 220 million active smartphones and has surpassed the US smartphone market. With this smartphone proliferation, there also has been an incremental adoption of mobile applications. In 2016 alone, Indians downloaded over 6 million mobile applications, up from 3.5 billion in 2015, and beat the US app market. As the world is getting increasingly concentrated into the palms of the consumers, healthcare applications too are finding space on the smartphone screens. As the consumerisation of healthcare increases, doctors too are looking towards mobile applications to increase efficiencies and productivity and foster better patient engagement.
A good mobile health application has to serve as a common platform where the patients, who are the consumers of healthcare can connect with the healthcare provider, the doctor. Given the increasing emphasis on digitisation, mobile apps serve as the perfect medium that bridge the gap between the patients and the doctors. The average mobile data consumption is also increasing in India and Ericsson estimates that it will account for 99% of total traffic from mobile phones by 2021 increasing fivefold from 2015. This increase in mobile data use is only going to further fuel the app economy.
Patients too are turning towards mobile to address their healthcare queries. A large number of people turn to their mobile devices to search for doctors and look for diagnostic services etc. What is becoming apparent is that just as the world turns to mobile to managing their banking and finance, and retail etc. needs, it is also turning to mobile and mobile applications to address their healthcare needs.
Patient Medical History Management:
With the rise of high-speed networks, both patients and doctors can look at the mobile app for a more integrated healthcare experience. A good mobile application can store the health history of an individual and allow anywhere, anytime access. This can be of help if an individual requires medical assistance when he/she is travelling or does not have access to hard copies of the health records. Mobile apps can be used to store all health-related data in the form of prescriptions, health records, lab reports, X-Rays, and scans etc. All health records can be easily stored in the mobile app and can be accessed when needed. The patients can choose to provide access to these medical records to specific doctors enabling the doctors to offer better patient care.
Better Patient Management:
For doctors, managing and maintaining mountains of health records, cases, and patient information can prove to be a gargantuan challenge. Since most doctors are connected with more than one hospital and usually run more than one clinic, having access to patient records and cases when they need to becomes critical. In this age of technology, mobile apps make it easier to read up on cases, take a look at reports and lab results when they are on the go. They can use the mobile app for drug and disease research, store related research information and identify other reliable sources for consultations. Having a centralised repository of patient information can assist them in better patient management as all appointments, feedbacks, case notes can be stored easily in one place and accessed at convenience.
Mobile apps can also make practice management easier and more efficient. Since all the information regarding the patient is stored in a central repository, there is no time wasted in retracing steps and the time spent with the patient can be used more productively. They can also use the mobile app to manage the administrative concerns of the different clinics, manage multiple calendars, streamline case management, referral management etc. easily. Along with this, they can also share files with the concerned parties.
With a good mobile app which offers analytics feature, doctors can assess the performance of their clinics, identify factors that contribute to recurring ailments, assess which tests are being done more frequently etc.
Given the increasingly complex and stringent compliance landscape, finance management capabilities of a mobile app can help the doctors remain on the right side of the regulatory landscape by easily documenting all incomes, outflows and finance records.
Better Patient Interaction:
Mobile apps also make consultations easier. Using the app both, doctor and patient can connect with one another, exchange basic information, and complete the first stage of consultation which primarily revolves around information gathering. They can decide on the course of action that needs to be taken and when they meet physically, the meeting then becomes more productive and time-efficient. Considering the low patient and practitioner ratio in India, this feature can be of great advantage to both the parties.
Doctors can also help patients manage their health with the help of mobile apps post discharge from hospitals, remain connected with patients post operations easily, assist in chronic disease management and send timely reminders to their patients to make health care more manageable and increase patient engagement and patient satisfaction.
Most doctors today are using their mobile to check emails and messages from patients. To leverage the mobile revolution to their advantage, all they need to do is look at a comprehensive mobile app to address the medical needs of their patients. The convenience of the mobile app not only benefits the doctor but also benefits the patients greatly.