Last Updated | December 17, 2021
Overview: what are healthcare applications?
The growing adoption of smartphones and other consumer devices like FDA software as a medical device has increased the use of wireless technology in many industries. Especially, in the healthcare industry, wireless technology has led to the expansion of medical applications. An increasing number of vendors offering healthcare software development services are designing innovative healthcare applications to enhance user experience (UX) in healthcare.
So, what are healthcare applications?
Healthcare applications are application programs designed to provide health-related services for phones and tablet PCs. They are accessible anywhere on the go. Some examples of healthcare software applications include EHR practice management software and medical asset management software.
1. What is the goal?
Defining a goal for building a medical app is a fundamental step. However, the process to develop a goal can be difficult as it is not just about creating an app that works well on any device but understanding how the app will provide users access to the information. This understanding helps a medical app development company decide on what the main focus of the application should be.
The main focus of the goal to develop an app is the target audience. In healthcare, the target audience consists of patients and medical professionals. So, let’s learn what the goal of a medical app is for patients and professionals:
– For professionals
Health apps are developed to help professionals keep an eye on patients’ health conditions and improve communication with them. Through medical apps, healthcare professionals get access to point-of-care tools that can help them with better decision-making and improving clinical outcomes. The applications allow medical professionals and nurses to monitor a patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen level without making an appointment.
These apps also give nurses access to patient health records since there is a great impact of EHR in nursing practice. Keeping eye on records helps nursing staff monitor patient health. Moreover, medical apps provide professionals with features, such as end-to-end patient management, encrypted chats with patients, appointment management, and reports scanning and uploading. With other features like prescription advice and reminders, health apps enable medical professionals to remotely advise patients on testing and send them reminders to follow the prescriptions.
– For patients
Medical apps have different goals for patients. A medical app provides patients with a better way to help them effectively manage their health conditions, fitness goals, hospital appointments, and insurance plans. The apps include features such as scheduling appointments, prescriptions, real-time checking of body vitals, lab reviews, results, chat to talk with medical professionals, and payment gateway options.
A medical app allows patients to schedule or cancel their appointments anytime, view lab results, and access medical records easily.
2. So, where do you begin?
To begin app development, here are the precursory steps you can take:
– Validation of Concepts
Validating concepts is all about ensuring to create an application solution that people want. For validating your concepts for your medical app, the best way is to scrutinize the problems of users. Think about how your app can pinpoint the needs of healthcare users. When your app successfully addresses user needs, your idea behind developing it is validated.
The steps for validating your concept for the app include doing market research and understanding your target audience.
– Market research
Like other products, creating an app does require you to do market research. For a better understanding of the market, you can look for other similar apps available there. Use the keyword that can describe the app you want to develop and search for your potential competitors on Google Playstore and AppStore.
Next is to understand the structure of those apps and how they are built. You do not need to follow in your competitors’ footsteps as they may have developed an app a year ago, and now there must be new technologies and programming languages that you can use for your app. So, learn what tech stacks are trending in the market and utilize them in your app.
– Target audience
One of the most critical steps towards developing an app is understanding the target audience. Know who the users of your app will be and what they expect to see in a medical application.
To get to know the audience, study their demographics, geographical divisions, behaviors and interests, and devices. Understanding your target audience in these areas will help you put your feet in their shoes and learn how these factors shape their decision-making.
When you develop an app for healthcare, it should bring innovation into the industry and provide users with a solution that caters to their medical needs. Their needs may include access to their medical records, a way to communicate to their providers, schedule appointments, order prescriptions refills, and more.
3. Define your targets
To satisfy the preferences of users with a user-friendly application that works fast and provides high-level security, you need to have a good tech stack.
Tech stack is the collection of underlying tools, frameworks, and libraries used for developing software solutions. To develop a medical app, you will have to choose the right IT solutions to solve the technical problems. The two broader types of tech stack for software development are front-end (client-side) and back-end (server-side). Back-end development involves web frameworks, servers, programming languages, and operating systems that you have to decide on before developing the app.
A medical app can generate revenue for developers when it is monetized. Monetization refers to a way an asset, in this discussion an application, can be used to make money. By leveraging a user base, app developers can get their app to make money for their business.
There are different ways to monetize an app, such as:
- Offer free and paid versions of an app. While a free version can provide users with basic features, a paid one can give access to advanced features within the app.
- Offer a free application with a subscription model.
- Add offers and promotions via a partnership with medical practices. For instance, if a medical practice offers a discount on the next lab test, you can partner with them to promote their services and make revenue.
4. How to develop an MVP to make a medical app?
MVP stands for a minimum viable product. It is developed as a representation or model of the actual product. Developing an MVP is crucial, especially when creating a medical app. It gives an idea of how the actual product will look like.
Here are the steps to develop an MVP:
- Do market research to understand your target audience, their needs, and other key players offering similar solutions.
- Based on research and analysis, develop an idea and concept of your value proposition and unique standing point (USP).
- Next is to design the product with a focus on the user interface (UI). The application must include all important features for patients and doctors. It determines if your app will be user-friendly and intuitive.
- Then, you can decide the budget you are ready to spend on the app development. Once done with budgeting, you can roll out the MVP.
- Finally, gather feedback from the users on the app and make changes based on those insights.
An MVP is the best way to collect audience feedback and know what they think about your product, which is another step to validate your concepts and develop your final product.
5. Design Tips to Make a Medical App?
An important step towards developing an app that appeals to users is creating a simple design with flow, responsiveness, and inclusivity. Let’s understand each attribute in detail:
A user flow of an application provides a visual representation of the path that the users take to interact with your app. The beginning point of the path is A and demonstrates all the possible steps a user can take to accomplish the task. There can be various paths to creating a simple and easy-to-use UX design. It is important to think over each interaction of the user journey and eliminate all unnecessary steps in between to minimize complications while using the app.
Your design team can create visuals of each step using diagrams. This practice will provide a visual representation of how your app will function.
The app’s architecture plays an important role to make it a responsive design. Developing an app with a thoughtful design that works well on all devices is a must. It is possible that your app users anytime try to access it through different devices, so you must ensure that the design of your app is responsive on all devices. Simply put, the responsiveness of applications refers to the adjustment of the design as per the device. A good responsive design works smoothly, shows the complete UI, and does not overlap or omit any feature on any device.
At the basic level, digital health apps must be accessible through interactive layouts, colors, contrast, etc.
However, when seen through a different lens, for example, there are several partially sighted or deaf patients; we need to take a step further towards inclusivity. It is important to ensure the medical application you design is accessible to any user in healthcare. In other words, add different features in your app like a digital character that helps patients with visual impairment to communicate with the app.
Take an example of an online plugin, Silktide, a digital platform that allows users to see any web page from the perspective of people with dyslexia, cataracts, color blindness, tunnel vision, or blindness. Considering this example, make sure the medical you develop should have features that make it accessible for users with different medical conditions in healthcare.
Once your app is fully designed, the next step is to test it. One of the most popular and effective ways of testing is A/B testing.
A/B testing is also called split testing as it involves developing two variants of the same application- A and B. Each variant has at least one factor different from the other so that both versions can be tested against each other. A/B testing collects data on how users interact with two different versions of the same application.
By understanding how user behavior differs from one interface design to another, you can determine what users genuinely prefer to see in a medical app.
Then you can go with the most preferred version to design your final product.
7. More Advanced Functionality
Incorporating advanced functionalities into your app, you can make it more diverse and comprehensive. Following are some examples of the functionalities you can add:
– Medical Records Integration
By integrating medical records with your app, you can let users access their medical records anytime and share them with their providers easily.
– Connection with other medical devices
You can add a feature in your application to let users connect it with other medical devices such as blood pressure cuffs, fitness equipment, weight scales, or even thermometers.Through this connection, users can track their medical conditions and fitness goals within the app.
– Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT) combined with the benefits of IOMT is a functionality that makes your app more useful for users. IoT draws from AI and machine learning to help patients monitor their medical conditions through advanced sensors.
For example, you can connect IoT sensors to your medical app and let users track their heart rate and glucose level.
– Artificial Intelligence
One of the most common uses of AI in healthcare is predictive analytics. Using predictive analytics functionality in the app, healthcare professionals can analyze the data that your app collects. This helps them develop diagnoses for patients with predicted results.
Blockchain technology is a digital ledger that facilitates the management of electronic health records, secure transmission of patient data, control of the medicine supply chain, and online patient access to medical records.
Using blockchain technology in your application, you can make your app more secure for users. Blockchain has the ability to manage identities, permissions, verify and authenticate user access to the app without divulging sensitive information.
– Virtual and augmented reality
Medical applications can include virtual and augmented reality features to guide providers through complex operations and surgeries.
For example, you can add this feature in your medical app using laser-based technology that will enable a doctor to see through a patient’s skin and into their veins. It helps doctors or nurses to find a vein to place an IV, or draw blood.
8. HIPAA Laws, Medical Data security and Regulations
The applications that handle protected health information (PHI) must comply with HIPAA laws. If you aim to develop a medical app without the assistance of healthcare compliance consulting firms, you must understand the potential penalties that HIPAA law enforces when any breach occurs to the security of patients’ PHI.
So, how do you figure out that you are dealing with PHI?
It’s pretty simple to understand. If your application will share medical information with a covered entity (in this case, a medical service provider), you will be dealing with PHI and need to comply with HIPAA.
HIPAA Privacy Rule makes it imperative for covered entities and business associates to get patients’ consent before sharing their personal health data.
So, in order to become HIPAA compliant, you need to implement three types of safeguards- administrative, physical, and technical- to ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and security of PHI.
9. Marketing & Promotions
Once achieved HIPAA compliance, your app is ready to roll out. However, developing an app is not enough to reach the target audience. After you have created an app, the next important step is marketing and promoting the application.
There are several ways to market and promote your app. Following are the ones we have curated for you:
- You can contact medical-related blogs, websites, and authors to spread word of mouth. Tell them about the features and functions of your app and ask them to display the information on their website.
- Compose a press release for your application and involve professionals from the medical field. You can add snapshots of the app and present the information about what it is and how it works so that readers can get a clear picture of your application.
- You can also go for social media channels for promotion. They are the most useful means to promote your app across the healthcare industry.
10. Consistent maintenance
Your job does not end with earning a place for your app in the market. Whether your app is performing well in the market or not, you need to consistently maintain it.
To ensure maintenance, you must keep track of the user experience and keep updating the application as the user preferences change and new technologies and trends come in. Constantly updating your medical app based on the insights can help you deliver a better user experience and expand your user base.
Moreover, consistent maintenance is not only confined to how your app is performing but also deals with how your competitors are doing in the market. So, in order to stand out from the crowd, you need to ensure the long-term maintenance of your app by fixing the problems it has and incorporating advanced functionalities within every revised version of it.
What makes a good healthcare app?
Compliance with HIPAA makes a good healthcare app. Good healthcare apps are developed with the help of HIPAA compliance software vendors as they help to store precise data and ensure the safety of PHI. A user-friendly interface and the ability to securely integrate with other systems for collecting information are a few more things that make a good healthcare app.
What are the Dos and Don’ts of Making a Medical App?
- Examine other medical apps and their designs to understand how your application should be.
- Create an interactive and easy-to-navigate UI.
- Add a chat or call feature for patients to easily communicate with their providers.
- Take the help of a healthcare integration specialist or hire an HL7 developer to integrate a medical app with wearable devices to collect data securely.
- Compare practice management system vs EMR integration solutions and integrate your application with the right one.
- Don’t add too many unnecessary features to the app to make it complex.
- You must not launch an app without consulting HIPAA compliance service providers.
A telemedicine software cost may range from $25 per user per month to around $600 per month. However, this cost range is one of the starting packages for telemedicine software development. As you add more users, healthcare providers, and more features, this price range will rise.
Final Thoughts: How Follio3 Helps you to make a medical App in the US, UK, Canada & Australia
Developing a medical app is no easy feat. There are several pre-production and post-production steps you need to consider before beginning to develop a medical application.
Luckily, you can find some of the best custom healthcare app development services that cover all your needs to help you design and develop a customized application for your target audience.
We, at Folio3, help you understand and walk through each step of app development smartly.
Whether you want to develop an MVP or the final application for the market, we provide you with top-notch HIPAA compliant iOS, Android, and hybrid applications. Understanding the healthcare industry needs, we offer you advanced features like cloud-based recording, algorithm-based insights, back-end, and front-end solutions as well as integration with a wide range of systems.
If you are looking for medical app development services in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, we have got your needs covered with our customized application solutions. Our developed applications incorporate advanced functionalities to meet the market needs.
To get our expert advice on your next app development, connect to us with a free consultation.