How mobile apps will Empower Healthcare Consumers

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Anika Agarwal, Head, Marketing, Max Bupa

Anika Agarwal, Head, Marketing, Max Bupa

Healthcare industry in India has become one of the largest sectors. It is growing at a rapid pace, owing to strengthened footprint, enhanced services and increased expenditure by public and private players. Fitch, a credit ratings firm, recently revealed that the Indian healthcare sector would reach a whopping US$ 100 billion by 2015 from the current US$ 65 billion. Though these figures look promising, there is still a considerable scope for overall improvement in healthcare facilities in India.

With the advent of a new government in India, there is a huge emphasis on the use of technology in the healthcare sector to improve the quality of services. We are currently undergoing a dynamic shift in demographics and per capita incomes as there is a rising awareness of healthcare facilities. In the next few years, increasing consumer awareness and provision of better facilities will put Indias healthcare sector on the global map. India is now looking forward to an all-inclusive healthcare policy that will support empowerment, equity and efficiency and technology will play a major part in leading this to fruition.

Technology has made our worlds interconnected through devices. Mobile apps have enabled us to get instant help even when we are on the move. . With mobile applications an individual can search for doctors, book appointments, search for home remedies or calculate their fitness regime. The importance of this lies in the fact that India, today, is faced with innumerable ailments. The causes are multifold- sedentary lifestyle, difficulty in achieving work-life balance etc. With such lifestyle and spiraling cost of health-care across the world and especially in India, consumers are looking for instant assistance to stay healthy. The need to have access to instant health and medical information of individuals have given birth to m-health apps that allow doctors to improve their relationship with their patients, increase patient communication and their adherence to prescribed regimes, with the overarching plan to improve the quality of care. And both parties have found a common platform: mobile health or mHealth.

Brands and companies have come up with an entire spectrum of health apps off late. Some allow people to access their medical records, others like Healthie Selfie help analyse your eating patterns and give a check on how you will look in the coming few years basis your lifestyle and habits. Then there are others who enable preventive healthcare by helping people set health and wellness goals. Such applications will improve customer experience and more importantly enhance health outcomes significantly.

Mobile apps are also gaining preference with health insurers as a tool to reach out to its customers. Health insurers today are going well beyond just paying medical claims and providing financial security to people. Today health insurers help their customers in improving their health through prevention and wellness programs in order to bring a change in the lifestyle of people. Health insurers, till date who have been paying for illnesses, are now promoting wellness and are rewarding the customers for staying healthy.

Apps related to the health insurance sector can help accomplish the following. First, enhancing policy holder experience through access to approvals and navigating through the claims process. Apps can also help educate the patients and alleviate the distrust stemming from mis-selling or a lack of understanding of the products. Second, preventive healthcare apps that encourage people to lead a healthy life, such apps can drive the right behavior towards health, and at the same time be fun to use.

The role of mobile apps in delivering better healthcare and focusing on prevention rather than cure looks promising. Expect a plethora of apps focused on healthcare come up in the next couple of years. What would make the difference though is plain and simple: Is the app differentiated from the myriad wellness apps available, does it enhance customer experience and whether it improves health outcomes in the long term.

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