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For those of us who have been in the web development industry long enough, the “AI Hype” for healthcare is nothing new. Researchers have been forecasting how AI technologies will transform our medical response system since the 1950’s; and yet, hospitals across the U.S. can still be found using the same legacy tech and paperwork filing infrastructures they’ve had for decades. The trend leaves many asking: is there hope for meaningful healthcare app development in 2019?

According to InteropITX’s 2018 Research Report, “the top [integration] challenge cited by respondents was a lack of IT infrastructure to support AI” in all industries. As cloud-based technologies become the norm, however, the need for organizations to revamp their existing digital infrastructure lessens. Now in 2019, healthcare facilities large and small are adopting IoT applications at an unprecedented rate, opening up a more viable healthcare market for app developers looking to improve the way America delivers healthcare.

In short, with a growing interest in apps and ML that can literally track your symptoms (and even refill prescriptions), and with more and more physicians being recruited to support healthcare app developers that respond to the individual needs of both patients and facilities, 2019 is going to be a BIG year in healthcare app development.

Looking to carve out your own technological niche in the city you call home? Check out our list of 2019’s top trends in healthcare application development below, and find a cause that calls to your technical know-how:

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5. Specialist Matching Services

Know a doctor, a nurse, or surgery scheduler? You might recognize them as the ones with bags under their eyes. The culprit? Short-staffing and long hours. Even in 2019 many of us shrug this off as one of the realities of the U.S. healthcare system—7.9 practicing nurses and 2.6 practicing physicians per 1,000 patients. Totally fine.

Thankfully, more and more medical app developers are helping private and non-profit medical organizations tackle these shortages by offering user-friendly solutions that save wasted time.

Take Nomad Health—an organization that helps match clinicians with healthcare facilities to quickly fill short-term vacancies. Or Enzyme Health, a new telehealth start-up who just raised $1.7M in seed funding to support its mission of giving providers the chance to work where and when they want. By streamlining the shift scheduling process and allowing some physicians to even work from home, app developers are offering an alternative to long wait times and tired healthcare.

With predictions suggesting a 90,000-strong doctor shortage by 2025 in the U.S., app developers in 2019 are projected to directly impact the work-life balances of clinicians and physicians, as well as the life-care balances of patients seeking treatment.

4. Operations Optimization

Although there are many out-of-hospital opportunities for healthcare application development, there are just as many (if not more) opportunities for mHealth developers to help physicians behind the swinging doors of their local hospitals. From surgery to pre-natal care, every medical establishment in existence can benefit from the improvements to operational efficiency that today’s machine learning applications can bring.

Indeed, time and operations management is becoming a healthcare hot topic as we see more cases of medical foundations taking operations into their own hands, and automating them for their individual needs. Case in point—the Methodist Health System of San Antonio managed to add over $150M to its bottom line within two and a half years via the automation of its capacity management process.

Other application platforms, like Boston-founded ACT.md, help coordinate patient care pathways, estimating case lengths and improving facility inter-operability through a hand-held application that medical professionals at all levels can carry with them in their scrub pockets. In aiding the development of applications that help connect all care members—from in-home nurses to emergency-room doctors—app developers are set to improve patient-flow solutions that make sense to our medical professionals on the ground in 2019, helping save lives and money every day.

3. Electronic Health Records

Paper-work is chaotic; even the world’s top CTO’s know that. So why are the medical services we all rely on still trading in paper forms and terrible penmanship?

Well, it’s no one person’s fault. It’s taken a while for developers and medical professionals to understand each other—but in 2019, that’s all set to change. As more and more physicians become comfortable with IoT technologies and digital applications through smart-phone use, app developers are being welcomed onto medical boards looking to create reliable, easy-to-use, web and mobile applications that allow both patients and practitioners to respond to individual health concerns.

Indeed, the list of organizations entering the EHR market is expected to grow at a compound average rate of 6% per year—a list that includes Apple, who has recently integrated patients’ medical records into its Health App as a part of its iOS 11.3 beta release. In allowing iPhone users to view their medical records in one place, Apple is catering to our human need for simplicity and convenience and putting healthcare in a place where most of us already spend a lot of time.

On the other hand, perhaps the truest indication of the rise of EHR solutions is the number of non-app ML systems that are taking the healthcare technology market by storm. Though you’ll hear some chanting “chatbots!”, organizations like HealX (who develop new drugs and treatment for rare diseases using AI), and the Prognos Registry (whose AI platform enables the early prediction of disease using an integrated database containing over 19 billion records) indicate a growing marketplace for EHR solutions that any talented app developer can capitalize on.

2. Healthcare Transportation and First Response

None of us are strangers to the exceptional cost of a single ambulance bill. With stories popping up of people resorting to services like Lyft and Uber for emergency and non-emergency medical transportation, there is certainly a burgeoning market for app developers looking to connect patients with transportation and first-response efforts.

Certainly, the infrastructure is already there: as the FCC continues to make updates to its location accuracy requirements for first responders all over the U.S., and as FirstNet’s preparations for a nationwide public safety communications network continue, app developers are finding their calling creating application solutions that ensure medical help is there where and when it’s needed.

Heck, even big tech players like Apple are making first-response efforts more effective by creating a software update that will automatically make device-based location information available to nearby 911 call centres.

Still, it is the community-based application solutions that have most grabbed our attention in predicting what’s coming for mHealth trends in 2019. A favourite that stands out as a model for future initiatives across the globe is PulsePoint, a non-profit foundation based in San Francisco. Since 2018, they’ve marketed a mobile application that alerts nearby CPR-trained users during the first critical minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest. Since its beginnings, the app has been activated more than 51,000 times.

For those app developers looking to create ethical, sustainable mobile solutions—healthcare transportation is the way to go.

1. Telehealth 

 Along everyone’s personal healthcare journey, they realize: being proactive about healthcare can change lives. Not that everyone takes their own advice. Many of us continue to only visit the doctor when we have to—when things get “that bad”. Most of us even make fun of our fitbit-wearing friends. But now, with personalized health applications that help everyone gain a greater understanding of their own health—right in the comfort of their own homes—app developers who specialize in monitoring and maintenance algorithms are breaking ground in the Telehealth market.

That’s right: number one on our list of 2019’s app development trends is that little monitoring device you’ve been seeing around for a while, but which hasn’t yet poured itself into the mainstream. But in 2019, and with Healthcare being the hot topic of the day, more and more people are trying to take control of their health in a proactive way, it is expected that digital health technology catering to out-of-hospital settings will grow by up to 30% by the end of the year. That’s a huge opportunity for app developers looking to make a difference.

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In closing—to all you app developers out there—just remember: the key to breaking ground in any of the trending healthcare app development markets we’ve listed above is to create ethical and responsible solutions based on real, valuable medical records, clinical trials, and recommendations, ultimately supporting both patients and clinicians for successful long-term diagnosis efforts. It’s about providing differing access points for patients with less mobility, or who have too much on the go. As the lines between app development and healthcare continue to blur, app developers are going to be integral to 2019’s efforts in creating digital health applications that will provide clinical care at a distance, increasing accessibility, and eliminating potential delays for medical practitioners on a global scale.

And that means more hospital rooms, better healthcare for aging parents, and smiles on the faces of those who continue to save lives across the world, every day.

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