Everything is going digital. Nowadays, you can do nearly everything with a few simple clicks. The healthcare sector is an industry that certainly benefited from innovations in technology. Technologies like artificial intelligence are more and more commonly integrated with healthcare applications. Those applications aid patient care, helping people take better care of themselves and maintain a healthier life.
Developing a medical mobile app is a complex process, which needs expert guidance. There are also a few rules to follow. This article will provide you with all the necessary information about developing a successful healthcare application.
Healthcare mobile apps in 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world healthcare systems have become even more popular. Telemedicine, AI and remote patient monitoring went up by 300% in investments.
According to Satista, there are nearly 88,000 health applications available for both iOS and Android-based smartphones.
Healthcare applications generally fall into one of the two categories: doctor applications and patient applications. The former, created for medical institutions, give access to health records to doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals. The later, health patients in health management, booking appointments etc.
Let’s go further into the main types of healthcare apps:
- EHR/EMR apps - electronic health records store data about patients’ diseases while electronic medical records provide official information for hospitals and healthcare service providers. EMRs store data about specific diseases and serve as an electronic copy of disease history. Thanks to EHRs hospitals get access to patients’ health data on the go.
- Healthy lifestyle apps - focused on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Equipped with diet-tracking features, monitoring fats, proteins, carbs eaten. There are also gender-specific applications like ones for pregnant women tracking data, doctor’s appointments etc.
- Emergency apps - as the name suggests, those applications are used in emergencies. When the user feels bad they can tap the Help button, which will send a request to the hospital with location
- Reminder/medication apps - applications that help patients keep track of doses and medicine-taking schedule. Some of those apps also allow doctors to send prescriptions
- Treatment monitoring and patient tracking apps - programs used to engage patients in their treatment and monitor progress
Apart from those, there are also: self-diagnosing, mental health, IoT medical products, inventory management applications. The full list can be also found here.
Top features of mobile health applications
Some of the most popular health applications have quite a few things in common. When analyzing their core features, we can come up with a list of ‘must-haves’. Obviously, some of them are highly dependent on the type of mobile app you decide to create.
- real-time updating - the ability to provide up-to-date data is one of the most important features for health applications. The information needs to be constantly refreshed to provide the best analytics
- cross-platform accessibility - medical applications should be available for a variety of devices, from patients’ smartphones to doctors’ computers
- offline mode - lives should not depend on the internet connection, that is why offline access need to have uninterrupted access to data as well as create backups
- monitoring and analytics - powerful analytics of patient’s data are useful during medical checkups. This way, medical professionals are able to predict possible threats, complications etc.
- progress tracking - the option to track heart rate, calories or blood pressure is useful for measuring progress and keeping an eye on the patient’s vitals
- two-way communication (social integration) - efficient communication is a part of treatment success. Patients are able to get feedback from doctors and learn more details about medication
- push notifications - the application can send a notification when something is out of ordinary or provide the user with various reminders
- schedule appointments - depending on the type, some health applications give you the ability to book a visit with your practitioner from your mobile device
- payment integration - the ability to pay for medical services online is a nice option to have as doctor’s appointments and hospital admissions are connected with bills
- patient and doctor profiles - all data should be organized in user profiles that can be viewed by doctors while doctors’ profiles should include information about their specialisation and other valid information that will make choosing a practitioner easier for patients
- 3rd party integrations (Google Fit, HealthitK and others) - most healthcare applications can be connected to Google Fit and HealthKit as well as to various measurement devices like smartwatches, smart scales etc
What to consider while developing a healthcare app
Developing a healthcare application can be more complicated than, for example, a booking app. This is due to the fact that any medical software needs to follow a set of legal obligations. HIPAA compliant, a global certificate is a product you must have. Apart from that, there are local certifications required by your region/country.
When developing an app for EHR remember to integrate it with devices like smartwatches and other personal monitors.
So why startups fail?
You have to be aware when starting a new app why healthcare services fail. Among the most commonly mentioned issues are: security matters and no compliance with regulations, lack of expert knowledge, poor user experience and lack of specific problems to be solved. It is obvious that users will not give you their personal data unless they feel secure. They will also drift away from your app if the user experience is not appropriate and the layout complicated. What is more, the goal of any healthcare application is to solve problems and meet certain expectations. If your application is not focused on a certain aspect, users will avoid it.
A thing to consider prior to starting the development process is market and competition research. Look for the big industry names and learn from their successes and mistakes. Read reviews to figure out what the users are lacking in the existing solutions.
Always think about a reasonable monetization method. In the case of a health app, good options to consider are in-app subscriptions and ads.
How to make a successful medical mobile app?
When you decide to create a medical app there are some key steps that you should follow, which will navigate you through the process pain-free.
Step 1: Market evaluation
Researching the market, finding out what solutions already exist and which ones are lacking. Define your target customer, get to know their problems and figure out the features your app should have.
During this step, validate your idea. Come up with a clear vision and a detailed outline of your idea, while remembering that a good application is easy to install and use, has a nice interface and ensures maximum security.
Step 2: Choose the right platform
This decision will influence the features your app will have. You can develop it solely for Android or iOS devices or create a hybrid that will be supported by both operating systems.
Take into consideration the devices your target audience uses. The solution should look good on smartphones, tablets and smartwatches.
You can make use of a ready-made solution or create custom software. Ready-made solutions will give you stability and low development costs. However, they lack creativity you can achieve with a custom solution.
For creating a healthcare application we recommend technologies like:
- Application Framework — Ruby on Rails
- Automation Frameworks — RSpec, Capybara
- SQL data storage — PostgreSQL
- Errors monitoring - Bugsnag
- Data storage — Redis
- Hosting — Amazon Web Services (AWS), Apple App Store, Google Play
If you need a team of developers that will take over your project, feel free to contact the Selleo experts.
It is worth noting that your target group will have an influence on the UX and UI of your application. The better you understand the audience’s dynamics the better solution you will be able to provide. Doctors will expect different features than patients. Keep that in mind while discussing the app layout and functionalities with your design team.
Step 3: Design, development and release
When all is prepared it is time to start coding. First of all, your team will focus on the back-end of the architecture. This is the time to discuss the must-have features. Then, there will be time for the front-end, which is strongly connected with the graphic design of your application.
When you will finally have your MVP it will be time to test it on a small group of people for further improvements. Testing will ensure that your product works seamlessly and is easy to use.
If all that goes well it is time to distribute your application. You can release it to the App Store and Google Play or distribute it to users on an ad hoc basis - providing it is a staff-only product.
Costs of creating a healthcare application
How much will it cost to develop a healthcare app? This is the question that many entrepreneurs ask themselves. However, the answer is not that simple. The overall costs of development depend on the complexity and features of the solution.
The number of hours spent on development will also have an impact on the price. Apart from that, some software development houses will be more expensive than others, so if you decide to outsource the development it is worth to conduct solid research. Remember that ‘more expensive’ does not always mean ‘better’.
As you can see, developing a healthcare application requires a well thought out plan combined with some luck. Even though the market seems to be full of similar solutions, there is still a lot of startups that manage to breakthrough. Using technology to enhance healthcare is incredible and meaningful. Remember to always put the patients’ best interests on top. Keep in mind your end goal and provide a solution for everyday problems.
If you have an idea for a startup or a medical application and do not know how to develop it, contact us. Our dedicated team will provide you with expert knowledge and high-quality solution.