Healthcare app development is shaping the future of medicine more than healthcare app development. Fueled by fast advancements in mobile technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT), medical apps are giving life to innovative solutions not even possible a few years ago.
As a result, healthcare mobility is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. In 2018, leading medical publication Physicians Practice conducted a Mobile Health Survey of its readers. It found that 75.9% of its respondents utilize mHealth solutions on a weekly basis. And three out of four of its readers believe mobile apps are now a staple in modern medical practices.
In 2017, the global mHealth solutions market was valued at $21.3 billion. By 2025, this is anticipated to reach $151 billion. It’s undeniable that there are profound opportunities for organizations in this space. But building a proper solution can be a complex and arduous process.
In this post, we’ll walk through some vital healthcare app development tips that every innovator should know.
Find a Specific Problem That Actually Needs Solving
When it comes to healthcare mobility, there are a variety of categories you can venture into; workflow process improvement, management of medical records, portals for patient care, appointment booking, self-diagnosis, and nutrition apps name just a few.
Regardless of which type of medical app you focus on, it’s imperative that your creation solves an existing problem. No matter how sophisticated, accessible, or innovative your app is, its ability to gain traction and thrive is severely stunted if it does not address a specific issue. Figuring out the purpose of their solution is the first step every healthcare app developer should take.
Elegantly tackling a prevalent obstacle in the medical industry ensures that your app is a sustainable solution and makes it easier for it to stand out in the market. Before going any further, identify the tangible problem your app is supposed to take care of. Then approach this situation from the other side. Ask yourself, what is the most efficient and effective way to solve it?
Identifying Your Target Audience
After you’ve discovered and evaluated the issue your medical app is solving, it’s time to identify your target market. The clearer you are on your target problem, the easier this step becomes.
For example, if you’re developing a telehealth app, it must be built to work seamlessly for both patients and providers. If you’re working on a self-diagnosis app, it must come equipped with all the tools and information necessary to streamline the process for the average layperson. They should be able to understand and operate the app without the need to consult a medical professional.
Identifying your target audience greatly informs your app development and design. It also empowers you to optimize your app’s value for target segments of your market.
Let’s say you’re working on a remote monitoring app. Key users of your solution would obviously be physicians and patients. But dig deeper into this. A growing geriatric population and the rising prevalence of chronic diseases means a substantial portion of your users could fall into either of these categories. On the flip side, you’ll have doctors who are specialists in these and related fields utilizing your app. Knowing all of this allows you to better cater to the interests of your target groups.
For bonus points, you can take this process a step further by consulting professionals and industry insiders who have an intimate understanding of the healthcare landscape. A lack of clinical or industry knowledge is one of the main causes of medical app failures. Users are quick to realize if your app lacks authenticity or expertise.
So after you’ve identified your target audience, get their input. The insights and understanding that clinicians or patients provide can profoundly improve your final product.
Prioritize Simplicity, Scalability, and Sustainability
One of the biggest challenges facing medical app developers is making something that’s both user-friendly and sustainable. Put simply, every successful app not only looks good but functions seamlessly.
And with all of the information you’ve gathered in tow, you can accomplish this much more effectively by tailoring your app’s features and functionality accordingly. For instance, if you’re building an app that accesses medical records, efficiency in flow and connectivity to different record-keeping systems are paramount priorities.
Regardless of your niche, focus on making a healthcare app that can not only accommodate new users easily but also has room to grow. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll want to add new features in the future; this prevents your app from becoming outdated. To do this, develop iteratively.
Iterative methodologies like Agile software development are behind the success of the world’s best software. It allows your team to break colossal projects down into bite-sized chunks and add features one by one.
It also allows you to identify your minimum viable product (MVP), the most basic iteration of your medical app that can function in a production setting. MVPs are far from the endgame as far as healthcare app development goes. But they allow you to gain priceless customer feedback faster and start incorporating features that users actually want.
An MVP coupled with an iterative process enables you to future-proof your solution. Together, they shine a light on what produces the most value for your users. Feedback can result in a plethora of possible features. You may find that gamification in the form of badges greatly increases user participation. Or maybe you’ll start looking to AI for simplifying the most complex processes of your app.
Whatever type of feedback you get, it’s important to remember that it always helps to point you in the right direction.
Make Your Medical App Accessible
Accessibility is a core component to achieving widespread use of your healthcare app. Without taking the right steps to make it approachable and reachable, your app could go completely unnoticed by the community you’re targeting. Strive to make it as easy as possible for your end user to find and download your app.
If your user group is discretely defined, you may find that a download link or listing on a major app store suffices. But if your target group is larger and multi-faceted, it may be a prudent move to get your app on private enterprise app stores that health organizations or facilities use.
Besides digital accessibility, it’s crucial that you consider physical accessibility as well. Your target hardware should be taken into consideration early on in your medical app development process. It’s common for app developers to target more than one platform. You may decide that a desktop platform in addition to tablet and smartphone counterparts is a necessity.
If you are diversifying the avenues that people can utilize your app on, it’s important to be cognizant of how each one affects user behavior. The way that smartphone users interact with your app can be radically different from how tablet or desktop users do. This becomes more nuanced when you consider the actual problem your app is solving.
For example, on-demand doctor apps are more likely to be used on smartphones for their speed and convenience. On the other hand, enterprise healthcare mobility solutions are more likely to be accessed on tablets, which can accommodate for features than smartphones.
Each platform usually doesn’t merit its own unique build of your app; often, apps developed for smartphones can work on tablets quite seamlessly. But it’s still important to be aware of the subtle differences. They can become bigger problems down the line. Besides this, customizing your app to each platform allows you to leverage the unique strengths each one possesses.
Interoperability Is Imperative
When developing healthcare mobility solutions, interoperability is one of the most important factors to consider. Interoperability refers to the ability of systems, devices, products, or applications to effectively connect, communicate, and coordinate with each other.
You’ll want to ensure your medical app can interact with all of the necessary information systems and software applications in a typical healthcare facility ecosystem. At the very least, this includes existing clinical management systems utilized by hospital staff and can become more detailed depending on your app’s use. Great healthcare apps can exchange data and use it to improve patient care without any extra effort needed from users.
Today, many enterprise healthcare mobility solutions such as medical scheduling software rely on the cloud to facilitate interoperability. But some hospitals still leverage traditional hosting methods and even standalone software installation to circumvent the often exorbitant costs associated with cloud hosting. In this case, you’ll have to build a compatibility layer into your app for it to function with the existing setup.
Incorporate APIs for Efficient Information Exchange
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are processes, tools, or routines that execute specific tasks with software. They’re commonly used by both advertisers and social network apps to pass information in a continuous way.
They play an integral role in healthcare apps by ensuring that medical records are accessed by the correct users. APIs make it possible for patients to have more control over their data while giving healthcare providers the ability to access records in one consolidated, convenient place.
When users log in to your app, API requests support authentication and connect your device to a remote server. For patient care and engagement solutions, you’ll most likely need to add API components that authenticate your device prior to accessing the patient’s repository.
On top of this, you’ll also probably have to add APIs from suppliers and vendors to simplify workflow. It’s important to note that not every API is third-party accessible.
Design a Delightful User Experience
If your medical app lacks usability, it won’t be long before users abandon it and your traction slows to a crawl. No other aspects play more of an integral role in shaping the outcome of your app than your user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). This makes sense when you think about it. In healthcare, both patients and doctors dedicate an enormous amount of time to entering data frequently.
While hammering out the details of your UI/UX, simplicity is the keyword to keep in mind. Designers are really advocates for users. So it’s important for them to deeply consider how people are engaging with the app. Because patients and doctors will be spending a lot of time on your medical app regularly, emphasize ease of use.
Poor interface planning, complex user flow, and unintuitive CTAs will do nothing but take users away from your healthcare app. Instead, prioritize design that delights. Great design is intentional, balanced, and relevant. it should always add positive aspects to the user’s overall experience and foster productive results. Anything that takes away from this or causes the users to stray off course doesn’t need to be included.
Legal Compliance & Security Are Crucial
Far too often, healthcare apps fall to the wayside because they fail to comply with legal requirements and security standards. Wherever you are releasing your app, make sure it complies with the set standards in that location. For the United States, medical apps should comply with HIPAA Rules and Regulations.
Strong cybersecurity goes hand-in-hand with being HIPAA compliant. There are several practices and tools you should employ to ensure the safety and privacy of your users.
Today, many medical app developers also avoid storing app data on devices for extra security measures. Unfortunately, many clinical management systems also limit the number of simultaneous API requests. As a result, apps often turn to app servers for data storage purposes.
But these servers focus on speed and efficiency, not security. And data transfers between devices and servers are susceptible to interception by nefarious organizations and individuals. If your healthcare app exchanges sensitive information, consider utilizing end-to-end encryption and secure communication channels. Both can help tremendously in negating data breaches.
What’s Your Monetization Model?
Finding an effective monetization model can be hard for any type of app. But when it comes to medical apps, the difficulty is increased substantially.
As tempting as it may be, do not turn toward a subscription model initially. Building a strong user base can take a lot longer than you think. Instead, consider other methods for generating revenue. Introducing certified content, gamification, and freemium subscription plans are all fair game. And when just starting out, in-app advertisements can be a promising avenue.
When considering revenue generation models, take a step back and really analyze the kind of healthcare app you’re creating. Many monetization models don’t fit with certain types of medical apps. Don’t rush this part of your development process. With some due diligence, you can identify a monetization model that aligns with your app without diminishing its value and effectiveness.
Put Your Healthcare App to the Test
Testing your app multiple times before end release is essential to avoiding errors. It helps elucidate discrepancies that are often easy to miss. Plus, you cannot truly understand how well your app performs without testing aspects like cross-platform support, security, regulation compliance, and scalability.
For healthcare mobility solutions, releasing an app without proper testing can lead to fatal consequences. Whether you’re doing manual or automatic testing, ensure you evaluate your app’s performance in regard to the following factors:
- Test security and authenticities (HIPAA compliance, Personally identifiable information (PII), Protected health information (PHI)).
- If your app needs geo-location services, test their accuracy and precision.
- Test app performance with various loads and performance benchmarks.
- Check app compatibility by testing it on the different platforms you plan to release on.
- Create real-world scenarios like poor connectivity and test your app in them.
Better Medical Apps = a Healthier Future
The healthcare mobility market is growing at an unprecedented exponential rate. Elegant technological solutions are making way for improved patient and provider engagement, which in turn cultivates better health outcomes.
Mobile medical apps are the future of the healthcare sector. And it won’t be long before they are the foundation of every modern medical ecosystem. Whether your app focuses on medication adherence, remote patient monitoring, or medical record management, we hope you’ve found these tips for making a healthcare app helpful.
Ultimately, market need, usability, and user-friendliness will determine the fate of each medical app. By taking these tips to heart and building the best app you can, you not only increase your chances of achieving success—you also help create a brighter, healthier future for each person that uses your app.