Med-Apps Save Lives

Mobile apps that enable doctors to quickly reference medical research are creating a digital revolution in Healthcare.

22 września 2016
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by Łukasz Andrzejczyk

Technology is continually enriching the practice of medical care in both obvious and as yet unconsidered ways. Smartphones and tablets enable professionals to take advantage of increasingly flexible access to medical information.

Mobile medical apps are prominent in many doctors’ practices. Use apps to view x-ray results. Use them to track symptoms or vital statistics. Apps help in diagnosis. They monitor and treat many common diseases. Apple’s App Store even features an entire collection dedicated to healthcare professionals. Now in the UK the NHS also offers a library of apps that have been reviewed by medical experts to ensure they are clinically safe.

Boosting Care with Technology

So medical care is changing, owing to simple ideas—apps—that laymen invent. Each year there are literally thousands of medical and healthcare apps being released and which get funding in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Digital health care industry is growing rapidly. In 2015 the amount of venture capital funding of digital health startups reached $4.5B. In just first half of 2016, this number reached $3.9B. The lion’s share of investment of far goes to patient and consumer experience and wellness sector.

The medical industry is highly regulated, dependent reams of documentation, prone to long queues and often hamstrung by inefficient procedures. Over-employment and declining productivity abound, too regularly resulting in annoying frustration for patients. That’s where technology comes in. Innovation matters. It improves the lives of patients and care-providers alike. Simple ideas like those invented by startups manage to simplify the work of doctors and enhance patients’ lives.

Care At Your Fingertips

There is a range of medical apps getting thousands of downloads nowadays. Here are some worthy examples. EHR and EMR systems gather, store and process the data of patients. They offer full patient information, store medical documents and process them.

They gather comprehensive data from an increasing number of devices.  The apps integrate with wearable devices to keep track of patients’ vital signs. The data is useful not only to care for particular patients, but also as a collection base for aggregate data from a wide sample of people, providing statistics about the general health of the population. This is of significant value to doctors and scientists in their research. Wearable devices and integrated apps also influence the fitness and wellness industry, which is indirectly related to health care.

An example of an EHR system created by Apzumi is EDM+. Another successful app is MyChart, which stores the medical data of the patients.

Apps offer various means of maintaining contact between the doctor and patient. They use video consultations and text messaging combined with different booking and payment methods. Physicians can choose between apps and select which level of involvement and control they want to have during their remote consultations. An Apzumi app using telemedicine is Meedy.

Some apps contain medical records for patients and doctors (knowledge libraries). There are different ways to deliver knowledge to app-users, and depending on the needs of the user there are different levels of information provided. For patients, the apps offer simple information with easily negotiated search engines. They catalogue basic knowledge on particular types of illness. The patient can easily find information about illness symptoms and suggest what to do when faced with them.

Algorithms work magic. Some apps take the inquirer through a set of procedures, for example, in the case of an overdose or cardiac arrest. It addresses various situations, for example accidents at home (WebPOISONControl, Duke CPR, Red Cross First Aid).

Some apps use gamification to encourage patients to raise their knowledge and awareness of health issues. More complicated apps offer an opportunity to self-diagnosis (see Meedy by Apzumi).

Medical students use some apps, for example IM Essentials Flashcards. These apps offer specific knowledge in certain areas of medicine. Some apps give decision-making support for physicians. Algorithms aid in diagnosis by offering a checklist of questions designed to identify the certain illness.

Some apps focus on one particular condition. The app may provide a comprehensive knowledge of a particular illness. It may help to diagnose symptoms and prevent further development as does Marfan Dx. It might help speedily to locate needed information. These sorts of applications support doctors with virtually unlimited knowledge 24/7.

One such app – UpToDate, published by Wolters Kluwer – offers evidence-based opinion and treatment recommendations on over 10,000 conditions. The information that goes into the app is peer-reviewed and collated by over 5,000 doctors and clinicians.

Other apps remind patients when to take medicine or when there is an appointment with the doctor. Sometimes they use complicated medical knowledge. Sometimes they suggest appointments whilst pregnant. (see Apzumi app Helfi).

There are applications that contain specialized document generators, which automatically handle financial formalities and document templates for doctors. These apps simplify everyday duties for physicians as does iScribes by Apzumi. Some apps allow to book appointments online and find the doctors in your location, while offering doctors an appointment calendar. An example of this kind of app is the Docplanner (Apzumi contributed to its development).

Change Is Constant

Medical services are more convenient than ever. Patients and doctors alike now obtain medical care and knowledge wherever they may be thanks to medical apps as the availability and quality of medical care improves steadily with ready access.

Thanks to this ordinary people are becoming more and more aware of their healthcare options. Physicians and patients make more informed decisions. Illnesses are diagnosed faster. Overall public health improves. Medical documentation is more concise and available. Processing data becomes automatic. The work that physicians put into documents reduces and physicians spend more time with patients instead of documents whilst using advanced algorithms that are often more reliable than human brain.

Risks and Challenges

The main challenge in creating MedTech solutions is to make them fit a highly regulated healthcare market. There are certain legal guidelines (HIPAA[4]/GDPR[5]) that govern technical requirements to ensure data safety. They include special rules of creating, storing, copying, sharing or deleting medical data. Startupers need to be prudent at this level. Fines are leveled for infringements.

There are multiple challenges to face in the integration of the app. To deal with all these challenges it is a good idea for the startup to have someone who has been down this road, someone who knows the industry and who can focus energy and ideas. The challenge is also to deal with and deliver value to hospitals and medical entities at the core of this essential industry.

Apzumi is a software house that specialises in building software solutions for the Medical Industry. We cooperate with MedTech startups, helping them to create product strategy and to build MVPs, and with medical entities like hospitals or private clinics to build advanced data storage and data processing systems for them. The Multiple projects that we have created will convince you that we are ready to tackle the most challenging tasks in the healthcare software world. We are familiar with all the various functionalities of medical apps, wearable devices, data processing and security. Finally we have carefully combed through complicated legal documents, procedures and requirements. We know how to deliver a compliant and resilient system. We are looking forward to sharing our skills with you!

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Łukasz Andrzejczyk

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