Healthcare Application Development – Best Practices, Trends and Principles

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When it comes to the way people shop and search for information, the internet is now the first point of call. Mobile apps and websites have become the primary tool that many of us utilize for almost every activity and the healthcare field is no exception. On these premises the healthcare mobile development industry was established.

For long time healthcare has been confined to the dark ages when it came to digitalization and setting up end-user communication. However, over the past decade, that has changed dramatically. Healthcare apps now better integrate the patient and the medical facility ensuring better communication and driving an improved customer experience. Healthcare app development is not just restricted to communication. New tools help improve doctor training and also better integrate medical organizations to facilitate research and learning.

Industry Overview – Healthcare Apps Market Today

While there are apps already available in healthcare, one thing is clear. The healthcare apps market is nowhere near saturation and with a CAGR of 33.3% is expected to continue growing over the decade in front of us.

How to do Healthcare Mobile App Development the right way

To understand the mHealth market in more detail, it is essential to realize that the apps segment based on the increasing penetration of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets accounts for the largest share. As people take greater ownership of their own health through improved monitoring and management, this remote capability is only set to increase.

Healthcare Mobile Market Size

While the healthcare mobile marketplace is still relatively small in comparison to its potential, it is growing rapidly and is set for explosive growth in the years ahead.

How to do Healthcare Mobile App Development the right way

In fact, because of the pandemic, one thing has become abundantly clear. Namely, where we are now in terms of apps is nowhere close to where we need to be. We need to do more to improve communication, access and tools within and for the medical profession. 

In 2020, the pandemic changed everything and impacted people regardless of where they live, work or play. While there are over 88,000 mobile health apps already available on the Apple App Store and Google Play stores, many of these apps provide similar functionality. In addition, their focus is primarily on fitness or diet and not on actual medical care.

For individuals or companies looking for better ways of communicating and catering to patient needs, what’s already available leaves much to be desired. This is why finding the right partner for your healthcare mobile app development project is critical. 

Types of Medical Apps

For people interested in healthcare application development it is important to understand the different types of medical solutions there are so that a suitable app can be developed to meet this need. Generally speaking the medical solutions currently available can be split into three different areas – those for medical staff, administrative staff and the patient. 

Each of these “markets” will have different requirements and needs and it might not be possible to build a one-size-fits all solution.

  • Medical Staff Apps – these types of apps help a doctor manage his or her practice. It could include things like inventory management and billing as well as a marketplace and other applications to better manage the practice. Clinical apps can offer digital imaging capabilities as well as EHR and EMR access to improve the doctors’ ability to access patient records and charts. 
  • Administrative Staff Apps – for larger facilities like hospitals you’d want to consider the ability to monitor patients remotely as well as things like telemedicine where you can provide remote diagnosis and share patient records using EHR. Hospitals and doctors’ offices need a way to manage appointments so scheduling and reminder apps are essential as is the ability to communicate between different facilities.
  • Patient Apps – with patient apps, consider things like self-diagnosis tools and fitness trackers. Also, look at the ability to book appointments and provide reminders as well as other telehealth type solutions. Patient apps can also incorporate IoT capabilities which help extend their functionality even further.

How to Develop a Healthcare App

When considering healthcare mobile app development it is important to understand that while the end result might lead to a financial windfall, the purpose should be to help people and perhaps even save lives. Before beginning your journey, the first step is determining the problem you are trying to solve.

Identifying the Problem

Healthcare apps can perform a variety of different functions and their capabilities are limited only by imagination. Consider the fact that today diagnosis chatbots exist which utilize the power of AI to help diagnose patients. Similarly, apps can utilize the phone to text capabilities to send out alerts and through IoT, integrate with fitness trackers and other health devices. Some of the most popular categories for healthcare apps include:

  • Scheduling and reminder – helping patients and medical practitioners track appointments and make bookings.
  • Clinical assistance – access to digital imaging records as well as other patients’ records and charts. Simplified symptom diagnosis capabilities.
  • Remote monitoring – telehealth apps help transmit information between medical practitioners and patients.
  • Education – useful to both the medical practice and the layperson, educational apps provide study guides and clinical references.
  • Lifestyle – focused more on personal tracking of things like fitness and diet, lifestyle apps help users live a healthier life.

How to do Healthcare Mobile App Development the right way

Selecting the Function

When considering the development of a healthcare application, think about the user and the functions they need. So for example, if you are building an app that caters to medical staff, a phone’s GPS capabilities might not be as useful. However, for patients interested in fitness tracking and other lifestyle type functions, this would be a key requirement. It’s extremely important to consider your target user and what they want and need as an app that does not meet their requirements is unlikely to be used.

How to do Healthcare Mobile App Development the right way

  • Payment – payment portals simplify a patient’s ability to pay for services. In addition, it allows the opportunity to build subscription packages and plans to help spread the cost of treatment.
  • Dashboards – dashboards and reports are a very powerful way of seeing information and understanding patterns. In a medical office, they can be used to consolidate patient information helping improve overall efficiency.
  • Patient portal – portals improve a patient’s ability to send and receive messages in a secure manner. They can be paired with chat and video to make them an even more effective means of communication.

Privacy and Compliance

When thinking about healthcare, patient privacy is a key concern. It is in fact one that many regions around the world have put in specific safeguards for with two of the most well-known being the HIPAA and the GDPR. The HIPAA is a US regulation while the GDPR is one that applies in Europe. 

With both certifications, a systematic process is required for the building of an app as the focus is very much on ensuring that patient records are kept safe and secure. HIPAA for example stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability and is a requirement for all health care providers, plans and people that interact with protected health information (PHI).

HIPAA and GDPR certifications are a requirement to demonstrate legitimacy and will help show that you care about patient information. Think about other standard forms of data protection like passwords and authentication. You should also have a comprehensive and information privacy policy that users can read and if possible, you should consider data encryption to help users feel even more safe.

Understanding the Platform and Device that is best

With healthcare application development picking the right platform is essential. While smartphones and tablets are one of the fastest-growing sectors, they might not be suitable in all instances and desktop solutions might be more useful.

Understanding your users’ needs and abilities can be a crucial decision. If mobile is chosen as the direction of choice, another consideration is the platform itself. Apple or iOS is very different to Android so picking the right developer that is capable of working with you in both instances is an important step.

App Distribution

There are different ways of distributing apps. You could go through the app store of the platform you are using, but if you have a specific market you are targeting, a unique link could be more useful in generating traffic. Private apps that are specific to an organization could obtain access to the app through their own enterprise app store and intranet.

App Monetization

In most cases, healthcare apps are not directly monetized as their underlying purpose is the improvement of an individual’s health. However, that does not mean individuals and businesses are unable to make any money from an app, only that alternative methods of monetization need to be considered.

Some of these alternative methods include advertisements, in-app purchases and subscriptions. In addition, device or medical sales can also be considered. Alternatively, the demand for health API is growing rapidly so this can be sold to other companies to help derive a profit.

UI/UX Design

UI or User Interface and UX (User Experience) is crucial in the design of any app and that applies even more so with healthcare app development. Consider the user journey when building your apps and specifically look at their pain points to ensure you’re building an app that offers a seamless experience. 

Try to remove roadblocks where possible so that users do not have to constantly repeat themselves. Ensure that the interface is clean and easy to understand and information is presented in a consistent manner that makes sense and is useful.

Coding and Development

Now that you’ve considered security, usefulness, design and the niche you’re trying to exploit you need to think about how to build the app itself. Unless you are a designer yourself, you probably want to consider outsourcing the development of your healthcare application to a third-party vendor. 

Finding the right partner can be crucial in guaranteeing your project’s success. You need to find a team that not only understands what you are trying to accomplish but has the skills to help you succeed. This team will help make sure that you and your app are successful so before selecting a company to help, make sure you ask the right questions.

Some useful questions to have answered include:

  • Do they have experience with HIPAA and building apps that are HIPAA compliant?
  • Do they know how to use Apple Healthkit and can they build apps that use this technology?
  • Do they know how to build apps that are able to integrate with EMR and EHR systems?
  • Do they have experience building other healthcare apps?
  • Do they have a particular passion for the healthcare space?

Finding the right developer matters, so make sure that you do your due diligence in this area.

In the healthcare app space, there are several emerging trends that any organization should consider when building an app. Some of the most well known include AI in Healthcare, Telemedicine services, IoT and Mobile payments. However, other advancements in Blockchain and cloud solutions are also showing lots of promise for the future.

How to do Healthcare Mobile App Development the right way

Conclusion

Whenever you build software or create an application, having the right partner can be the key to making or breaking the project. The NIX team is intimately familiar with healthcare app development and have extensive experience building HIPAA compliant applications.

Our team of software developers, project managers and architects can help translate business requirements and ideas into a comprehensive and attainable business plan that is capable of delivering real results. One of our recent successes was working with a hospital software provider to improve an existing mobile app and web platform.

You can also get familiar with other healthcare cases we worked with:

The NIX team will work with you to build a solution that meets your requirements, regardless of how complex they might be. Our team of developers is skilled with all of the current frameworks used for app development and we will make sure that the final product is one that meets your needs. Contact us to find out how we can help you succeed with your healthcare application development project.

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