The patients’ willingness to use AI-based apps will encourage their further development.
However, it is important to inform patients that at the current level of technology advancement, medical apps cannot fully substitute an examination by a doctor, particularly if any serious health issues are suspected.
Wearables and Internet-of-Things
Healthcare apps of the nearest future can be enabled to integrate data from smartphones, wearables and smart sensors. This integrated data can be used by clinicians to establish a more precise diagnosis. The patient’s health indicators will be monitored by wearables and sensors in real time and shared by the app across other authorised devices using internet-of-things (IoT). The patient will be able to view the collected data on their smartphone, and the clinician will not have to add it manually to electronic records as this addition can be automated.
For example, a patient with Type II diabetes may be interested in the smartphone app monitoring the sugar level in their blood and giving warning when it gets higher. Being IoT-enabled, this app can obtain sugar level data directly from the glucometer that is used by the patient. The app can also share the data with the patient’s doctor. When the patient arrives, the doctor will already be aware of her sugar level dynamics in the period between visits.
Internet-of-things is a network of interconnected objects, such as wearables, medical devices and smartphones that exchange data with each other without direct human intervention. IoT has been identified in recent scientific research as a potentially transformative technology for healthcare, yet its broader implementation has long been hindered by data security concerns. However, this problem can be solved by adopting blockchain alongside IoT for medical apps.
Blockchain is a decentralised information system where data can be stored and exchanged without a need for establishing trust between parties. Blockchain is the technological basis of cryptocurrencies and has a strong reputation for transaction security, which makes it desirable for use in medical apps. With soaring patient concerns about privacy, blockchain offers a way to ensure that data is safe and readily available from smartphone at the same time.
Blockchain-based apps can store a great amount of data from multiple patients, obtained from clinical and non-clinical sources (e. g. input by patients themselves) alike. Analysing this data, the apps can provide users with estimates of how their health indicators compared with the general population.
Most importantly, each patient can rest assured that their data can be accessed only by the authorised party, e. g. their doctor, that has the keys to decipher it. The decentralised nature of blockchain insulates against a large-scale security breach.
When a clinical data centre is hacked, all patients records stored there can be accessed by malicious parties. A blockchain network does not have any central nodes that accumulate large amounts of data. All transactions are organised in blocks and processed by the party with the largest computational power. The processing party cannot view the data as it is encrypted by virtually unbreakable keys.
Storytelling and Gamification
Storytelling has become a major app development trend in 2018. A storytelling app design is essentially a sequence of steps that are easy to follow, with a beginning and an end. In healthcare, a simple example is an app for blood pressure control. The beginning is the user’s current blood pressure level. The end is the user-set goal, e. g. keeping blood pressure within a safe corridor over the next month. The intermediate steps are taken by the user every day by measuring blood pressure. Thus, the user creates their own story of keeping their health issue in check.