2020 proved itself to be a year full of unique challenges. The good news? Humans are nothing if not adaptable.
People have always found ways to overcome any obstacles presented by their environment - it’s what we do best. We look at problems, find solutions, then adjust if it doesn’t quite turn out right. This is especially apparent in the tech industry, because technology, at its very core, is created to provide solutions to everyday (and sometimes not so everyday) challenges.
Tech has been experiencing rapid growth for awhile now, but this year in particular is a major one for the digital world. As “real” life becomes strange and altered due to various global happenings, much of our world has shifted to online platforms - birthday parties are being held over Zoom, concerts are being live-streamed, and many offices are now completely virtual.
Most industries have turned towards tech as a strategy for staying alive, and the business of healthcare/wellness/health is no exception. From fitness to mental health, check-ups to diagnoses, the world of health now lives primarily in our smartphones - more specifically, in mobile apps. So, we’ve decided to compile a list of what we believe to be the best health, wellness, and healthcare apps of 2020.
The Top Healthcare App: Teladoc
Even before the global pandemic, telemedicine was on the rise. Apps for healthcare, such as Amwell, Doctor on Demand, MD Live, and TeleVet (for your furry family members), have already been working to transform the healthcare industry one download at a time. This year, however, we are particularly impressed by Teladoc.
Founded in 2002, Teladoc was a pioneer of the telemedicine wave. The app connects users to local doctors via phone, video, or chat, and covers a wide range of concerns, from mental health to dermatology, everyday care to serious medical issues. There are providers available in all 50 states, covering over 450 specialties, and Teladoc matches patients with doctors in their area. Users can receive diagnoses, treatment, and prescription refills, and with patient consent, Teladoc can share important medical information with the patient’s primary care provider.
The convenience and ease of having medical professionals available on demand and anywhere is appealing under ordinary circumstances, but is especially useful in the current climate, as in-person offices are inundated with pandemic-related concerns. According to an article from Medical Economics, “Telemedicine saves patients over 100 minutes of their time compared to an in-person visit.” The user-friendly technology and accessibility of mobile healthcare apps like Teladoc are driving telemedicine’s transition into a permanent resource in the medical field.
For more on telemedicine, see: Future Trends in Telehealth and Mobile Healthcare Apps and Telehealth in a Crisis: The Real Importance
The Top Motherhood and Self-Care App: Mindful Mamas
Mindful Mamas was born out of a concern for the mental health of mothers - over 500,000 mothers experience postpartum depression each year, but only 15% of them receive treatment or care for it. Terra LaRock, the founder of Mindful Mamas Club, worked with AppIt to create a mobile wellness app that would focus on the mental health and well-being of all mothers. The intention was simple: to provide support, care, and resources for users as they embark on their new journeys as moms.
Mindfulness in particular is valuable to mothers, as it has been shown to alleviate the effects of depression, anxiety, and stress. The Mindful Mamas app offers features such as breathing techniques, guided meditations, mantras, and mini pauses, all designed to help users find peace and balance within all stages of motherhood. The simple design and personalized content creates a space in which mothers from all walks of life can feel supported.
For more about Mindful Mamas and its app development, see: Mindful Mamas
The Top Fitness App: Freeletics
Mobile fitness apps have always been a popular choice for those who are short on time, or who travel frequently, but in 2020 a much larger sector of the population has come to rely on technology for their fitness needs. With physical gyms closed and exercise classes either limited or cancelled altogether, mobile apps became a crucial part of people’s workout routines. While there are a number of fitness apps out there, our favorite of this year is Freeletics
With over 31 million users in 160+ countries, Freeletics is a mobile fitness app that offers a customizable workout plan led by a personal AI coach. Every exercise is equipment-free, and training plans are continually being adjusted based on user feedback. In addition to the workouts, the app also offers audio mindset training (short audio clips that focus on de-stressing, habit building, healthy sleep, focus, etc.) as well as a nutrition plan that includes daily recipes and tips structured around the user’s specific nutrition goals. And for those who miss the social aspect of fitness, leaderboards and chat forums allow for a community-oriented experience where users can interact with others on their similar fitness journeys.
The Top Mental Health App: Headspace
Although it can easily be neglected, mental well-being is an important part of overall health, this year especially. We don’t normally think of our smartphones as being resources for mental health, but in a time where in-person help isn’t readily available, mobile apps have become a viable alternative. Headspace, our pick for the best mental health app of this year, is just one example of this - the app saw its number of downloads double just between March and April of 2020.
First developed in 2010 as a meditation events company, Headspace evolved into an online platform and mobile app for people around the world to utilize, and now serves millions of users in over 190 countries. A Headspace subscription offers features including guided meditations, expert advice for mindfulness, music playlists for focus and calm, as well as live guided meditations that people can join together. Additionally, in response to the pandemic, Headspace began offering any public healthcare professional a free Headspace Plus subscription in the US from March 2020 through the end of this year. People are turning towards mobile apps such as Headspace to help them alleviate stress and remain grounded during this unprecedented year.
The Top Overall Health App: Apple Health
While the Apple Health app is not new to iOS users, the consistent updates and added features still place this application on our list of favorites. The Health app allows Apple consumers to access all of their health data in one place, gathering and condensing data from iPhones, Apple Watches, and even other iOS apps across devices. It automatically tracks steps, but users can also select specific health categories for the app to monitor, such as sleep patterns, diet, heart rate, activity, and menstrual cycles.
Though the Health app itself can’t produce data, it can pull information from other Apple devices along with various Integrated Partner (or third-party) apps, including Strava, WaterMinder, Sleep Cycle, Google Fit, and MyFitnessPal (to mention just a handful). The Browse tab within the app lists the various categories that can be tracked, and provides related partner apps along with in-app resources and helpful documents. For users with preexisting conditions, there is even a section for providing Medical IDs and clinical documents.
In the ever-changing environment of 2020, the stability, convenience, and ease of having all medical data and resources in one location is highly valuable to modern users. We can only expect to see more and more updates in Apple's smartwatch technology as the company and the software becomes even more efficient at tracking users' health metrics and providing important health-related information and resources.
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