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The Development of Mobile Apps in the Healthcare Industry

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 2:40pm
Sarah Peters, Contributing Writer

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The growth and development of smartphone technology has been phenomenal. In a very short space of time, we moved from very basic mobile phones that only allowed users to make calls, send SMS messages, and play a few simple games, to having smartphones that are essentially powerful computers in the palm of our hand.

Smartphone technology has provided many new ways for individuals and businesses to communicate and interact with one another and this has been driven almost entirely by the community of app developers. Before smartphones, businesses could only provide a website for their customers to use.

Apps for smartphones are a whole new breed of technology – users download the app software and install it onto their cell phone. This offers businesses more ways to create powerful tools that not only provide a service to customers but also act as a marketing platform for the business.

The health and medical industry has embraced this new technology and today there are some excellent apps that provide a huge array of services to patients and customers.

There are too many health and medical apps to mention them all so this article will look at some of the most popular and most useful tools on the market today.

Health and Medical Apps
The health and medical field can be broadly divided into healthy lifestyle products and medical information services.

Most health and medical apps are designed by web companies that offer subscription services – the apps provide their customers with a useful tool and also provide invaluable marketing. The healthy lifestyle market is huge while the medical information market is growing rapidly. Following are some of the most popular apps currently on the market.

Garmin Fit is a popular fitness app. It helps users to keep track of their workouts and provides data such as distance traveled, and speed and calories burned when exercising. Garmin started out creating GPS navigation systems but have moved most of their commercial applications to smartphones, offering premium apps.

There are many apps on the market that offer fitness and diet advice and this market has become saturated. However, many apps gain a loyal fan base and these help businesses to retain customers.

Pocket First Aid & CPR is a simple app that can literally be a lifesaver. The app acts as an easy-to-use emergency guide that includes information on first aid basics, automated external defibrillators (AED), CPR, and medical, injury, and environmental emergencies. It was developed by the American Heart Association and is available on both Android and iPhone devices. The app provides over 30 videos and many high-resolution images. The app has helped many people save lives already; one individual survived an earthquake after following the advice on the Pocket First Aid app.

Drugs.com has also created an app. Drugs.com is an online health resource, which provides comprehensive information on most known drugs and medicines. The app is rapidly replacing the website as the main way for people to read information about drugs.

Designing Medical Apps
App development is a complex process – each app needs to be developed and tailored to be used as a specific health aid. Because health is such an important topic, apps must be designed with accuracy, integrity, and privacy in mind. Health apps cannot afford to provide inaccurate information or share user data.

One major consideration is whether the app is for tablets or smartphones, although many apps are now designed to work equally well on both types of device.

Regardless of the type of app that is designed, all apps have one key goal: to provide marketing opportunities. One of the key aspects of app design today is ensuring that users can easily share the app with friends. This is usually done by linking the apps with social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook so that, for example, workouts and meal plans can be shared. This provides an excellent stream of free marketing.

All health and medical apps should include appropriate disclaimers, as well as terms and conditions. Companies must understand that there will always be liability issues surrounding health apps. The FDA has announced that new guidelines may make it a requirement for health apps to be regulated. Designing an app for medical purposes therefore requires careful planning.

There are many benefits to being able to create an app for your business, although customer engagement and marketing are the two most important reasons to undertake such a project. Fortunately, designing an app has never been easier because there are so many companies that specialize in this new technology. One such company is Worry Free Labs who provide a full development service and can also provide invaluable advice to companies unsure about what their target audience really wants from an app.

The mobile apps market is still growing and it is expected that within the next few years the majority of all Internet access will be via mobile devices. Desktop computers remain dominant in the workplace but, for casual consumers, smartphones and tablets have largely replaced traditional PCs.

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