Development budgets can't keep up with mobile app growth

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Healthcare organizations are embracing mobile app development big time, with 82 percent across the U.S. and Europe boasting an mHealth strategy--but budgets aren't robust enough to support the growth. That’s despite a healthy return on investment.

A new Red Hat survey reports 8 in 10 health organizations, 78 percent, are enjoying strong ROI from app investments.

“This success in ROI mirrors the expectation that the average number of healthcare apps developed by U.S. respondents over the next 12 months will grow 56 percent from nine to 14 [apps]. European respondents developed an average of 13 apps and expect that number will grow by 31 percent to 17 apps in the next 12 months,” notes the survey which polled 200 IT decision makers in public and private health and life sciences organizations in the U.S., France, U.K. and Germany.

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“However, the expected increase in budgets may not support this level of growth," says a Red Hat blog post.

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The budget increase is predicted to be 15.5 percent and that spend not only covers new apps but maintenance and support tasks. Those polled intend to build an average of 36 percent more apps in the next 12 months.

“This disparity between investment growth and desired app volumes may not be achieved by developing mobile apps as one-off projects,” according to the survey.

RELATED: Health IT budgets playing catch-up amid pressure for value

Most apps are built for doctors and patients and are focused on productivity, patient engagement and meeting patient needs.

The top challenge is security, with 30 percent of U.S. survey respondents citing data encryption from device back-end systems and end-to-end HIPAA compliance top concerns.

RELATED: Hospital CIOs focused on data security in mobile investments

Deployment hurdles include back-end integration, security data, app scalability and app life cycle management.

Organizations are using a wide range of tools and platforms for app development, notes the report.

“The needs of caregivers, patients and business are different and wide-ranging. There is no single solution to meet the needs of all the various mobile demands, which is reflected in the mix of different tools and platforms employed by the survey respondents," notes the report. "Even the best off-the-shelf solutions or [rapid mobile app development] tools can only address some of the challenges."

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