In any industry, consumers are the driving force behind innovation. Corporations, large and small, strive to both deliver what they want and anticipate their future needs.
Yet, when it comes to healthcare, delivering the innovative tools and services consumers desire promises more than just a positive ROI — it also catalyzes transformation of the entire system.
Startups focused on developing intuitive, individualized mobile healthcare apps are raising the bar in the healthcare space. Such cutting-edge resources help deliver desired outcomes by empowering patients to prevent (rather than reactively treat) serious conditions. These tools also allow physicians to personalize care plans to help reduce the occurrence of chronic disease.
Ironically, while the cost of providing treatment for people with chronic diseases makes up nearly 90 percent of U.S. healthcare expenditures, behavioral factors — like getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating nutritiously — are half the battle to remain in good health.
By giving people the power to track and change their habits, these companies are changing the world and how we exist in it one download at a time.
Apps Changing the Future of Healthcare
Healthcare entrepreneurship is experiencing exponential growth, with $5.8 billion invested in digital health startups last year alone.
A number of innovative and game-changing standouts have already begun reshaping the industry. But as the marketplace becomes more crowded — and more competitive — over the next few years, companies that effectively address the complexities of patient empowerment will rise above the rest.
To empower a burgeoning population of tech-savvy patients, innovative startups must find new ways to improve health outcomes, simplify care processes, make healthcare more accessible, facilitate the sharing of critical patient data, and develop supportive care communities.
Here are five examples of cutting-edge health apps doing exactly that:
1. Fitocracy — Finding new ways to improve health outcomes
In an effort to make fitness more fun, co-founders Richard Talens and Brian Wang developed Fitocracy, a social networking site that turns exercise into a game.
Users log workouts into the system and are rewarded with points that allow them to unlock new game levels and progress up leaderboards. The app also offers workout analyses, coaching, nutritional guidance, and other tips for enhancing health regimens to improve outcomes. By harnessing the addictive pull of both gaming and fitness, Fitocracy turns getting healthy into an entertaining, interactive diversion.
The platform grew virally during the year it was in closed-beta, invitation-only mode. Which might explain why it now has more than 250,000 users who have logged more than 2 million workouts, despite having never spent a dime on marketing or user adoption.
2. PillPack — Simplifying care
In 2013, non-adherence to prescribed medication in the U.S. was a huge problem that resulted in an estimated $337 billion worth of emergency room visits, hospital readmissions, and unfavorable outcomes.
One-third of prescriptions are not filled. PillPack aims to reduce that number by making the process simpler, safer, and more convenient. By sending patients prescription drugs in pre-sorted, easy-to-open dose packs clearly labeled with date and time consumption instructions, it improves medication adherence.
Users can include vitamins and supplements in their PillPacks. Shipping is free, and the company coordinates with doctors, pharmacies, and insurance companies to make the transition seamless.
3. SkinVision — Increasing access to healthcare
How many people have found a mole they thought needed checking out, but didn’t find the time to schedule that dermatology appointment, and an annual follow-up each year?
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., affecting approximately one in every five people during their lifetime. Melanoma, the deadliest and fastest-growing type of skin cancer is often treatable if caught early. But because access to care is not universal, melanoma often goes undetected until it’s too late.
SkinVision’s mobile app allows users to photograph suspicious moles or lesions, and uses a unique algorithm to determine the potential for melanoma or other skin disorders. Users can also track skin changes over time and share those pictures directly with a physician or dermatologist. The company hopes the app will not only raise awareness for skin health and sun safety, but also increase earlier detection of skin cancer, when survival rates can be as high as 98 percent.
4. Doximity — Creating and sharing intelligence
To improve healthcare worldwide, physicians must be able to connect, inquire, collaborate, and transmit information with ease. Akin to LinkedIn for doctors, Doximity allows physicians to build a professional network to find the help and answers they need when treating difficult cases.
Physician profiles on Doximity highlight everything from a doctor’s education, training, publications, and clinical trials to past and current job positions, accepted insurance plans, and spoken languages.
The site is completely indexed and searchable, so physicians can be as general or specific as necessary in their quest to connect with other healthcare professionals. Approximately 1,000 doctors join the network each week to reap the benefits of being paid for their expertise, and the program’s potential is far from realized.
5. Patientory — Developing supportive care communities
Community is an incredibly important part of a positive healthcare experience — especially when patients are facing serious, unexpected, or chronic health situations. Patientory connects people dealing with similar health issues so they can create and join communities that provide answers, guidance, and support.
Patientory members can store and manage all of their health information in one place, which makes it easier to access health records when and where they’re needed. This, in turn, cuts down on delays in care, medical mistakes, billing problems, and clinical errors.
These are just a sampling of the impressive healthcare apps and services available to today’s consumers. As the market, technology, and consumer needs change over the next five to 10 years, so too will the list of cutting-edge tools and startups.
To stay on top of the game, health startups must create easy-to-use tools and interfaces, make applications capable of integrating with other sources, keep features and functions relevant and engaging, and always strive to improve health outcomes by empowering patients.
What are some health-related topics, tools, or services you would like to see in an app in the future?