Mobile apps in healthcare are hot, but budget growth is not – and that may mean slower growth. Other inhibitors include security, regulatory and compliance issues, and patient/user/client adoption.

Eight in 10 healthcare organizations are implementing mobile strategies, a huge jump from just half a year ago, according to a new survey from Red Hat.

However, what Red Hat describes as “budget headwinds” may limit just how pervasive mobile health apps become.

“Our research shows nearly all organizations surveyed (98 percent) experience challenges when implementing mobile solutions, including security, cost, regulatory and compliance issues, and users/patient/customer adoption,” Red Hat says in the survey of some 200 healthcare information technology decision makers around the world.

Some 82 percent of healthcare organizations have embraced mobile strategies, up from 52 percent just a year ago.

Of those adopters, 78 percent report “positive ROI” {return on investment.

Apps development is surging, too, with a 56 percent growth forecast (from 9 to 14) across U.S. adopters and 31 percent (from 13 to 17) in Europe, according to research firm Vanson Bourne, which Red Hat commissioned for the survey.

But while app development is expected to climb 36 over the next year, project budgets are expected to increaser only 15.5 percent.

“This disparity between investment growth and desired app volumes may not be achieved by developing mobile apps as one-off projects,” Red Hat warns. “Rather a modern platform-based approach that supports agile development and modern API-based architecture can help increase developer efficiency, reduce development costs, and support the increasing demand for mobile apps.”

Most apps, by the way, were developed primary for doctors (59 percent) with patients next (55 percent).

What’s driving adoption?

  • Business/internal demand for more productivity (63 percent U.S. respondents and 60 percent European respondents)
  • Healthcare provider demand for better patient engagement and care (60 percent U.S. respondents and 57 percent European respondents)
  • External/member/patient demand for mobile apps (56 percent U.S. respondents and 43 percent European respondents)

Challenges to adoption remain, however. Red Hat points out:

  • Security is the most dominant business concern, with nearly all (98 percent) respondents reporting concerns over app security.
  • Three in 10 (30 percent) of U.S. respondents reported that their primary security concern is data encryption from device back-end systems.
  • Furthermore, 29 percent of U.S. respondents reported that their greatest security concern is end-to-end HIPAA compliance.
  • For European respondents one in four (25 percent) report that user authentication and authorization is their primary security concern.
  • Nearly all (97 percent) respondents experience technical challenges when deploying their organization’s mobile apps.

Interestingly, the survey found that healthcare organizations are using on-premise deployment rather than the cloud.

But Red Hat points out “on-premise and partial on-premise approach is not surprising given the regulatory and compliance requirements that govern healthcare companies in their handling of sensitive patient information.”

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