Healthcare technology, specifically healthcare applications (apps) for smartphone devices, is a rapidly growing field with vastly different targets and purposes.

The utility of these apps ranges from clinical decision support to at-home health management. The purposes of the apps are also vastly different. Some apps aim to provide in-hospital clinical support, while other apps aim to provide healthcare services to developing countries that lack medical devices for proper patient care.

In the clinical setting, the use of healthcare apps for clinical decision support is becoming routine, and there is strong evidence of their reliability.

Smartphone apps

The CardioSmart Heart Explorer app has proven to be effective in clinical decision support assistance and risk-factor modification in patients with symptoms of angina, while the My Studies App provides healthcare regulatory decision-makers with access to real-world patient data.

Apps that provide medical device-like features such as, a urine test technology that tests for signs of urinary tract infections, diabetes, and kidney diseases, are major drivers of the rise of the healthcare app market.

These medical device-like apps can provide healthcare services in conjunction with an online physician and test kits to anywhere in the world with WiFi access. Apps such as Peek Vision, a vision assessment app, and Triage, a dermatological assessment app, are also making a huge impact in the healthcare technology space.

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Challenges and opportunities

The healthcare apps space faces many challenges including regulation, reliability and data security.

However, a wide array of healthcare services are being investigated to determine whether they could be developed into an app, and many venture capital investors value the upfront costs of software companies as minimal in comparison to device companies in the future.

With continuous improvements in both tablets and smartphones, the healthcare app market should continue to attract the attention of innovators and investors in 2019.