Are you a startup founder or product manager who is in charge of the healthcare application development process?
If you are looking for a resource to help guide you through the whole process of healthcare application development, well, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we will cover how to undertake the process of healthcare application development.
What do you want to build?
Healthcare application development is about developing a mobile app that can provide health-related services in real-time. However, as there are a huge number of health services, so the first step is to decide on the health service your mobile app will provide.
Types of mobile health apps
Generally, healthcare applications have two types of end-users, healthcare professionals and users.
For professionals, a healthcare mobile app can provide services for:
- Appointment scheduling;
- Patients’ health monitoring;
- Patients’ record management;
- Health facility management.
For non-expert end-users, a healthcare mobile app can be for:
- Lifestyle tracking and fitness apps;
- Health monitoring like blood pressure, heart rate, etc.;
- Mental health assistance;
- Hospital appointment scheduling;
- Health insurance ;
- Online communication with health professionals.
Healthcare App Features
Whatever healthcare mobile app type you choose to develop, some features are ubiquitous to all healthcare mobile apps. We will discuss these app features next to give you an idea of what to expect from your medical app development team.
Typical healthcare app features include:
- User Signup/ Login:
Easy user registration for new users and login process. An option to auto signup through social media accounts like Google and Facebook. Also, you can ask for an email or contact number for verification purposes.
Keep it hassle-free, but the user should benefit from a fast and reliable app experience.
An interactive user interface that is simple, visually appealing, and easy to use.
- Multilingual Support:
An easily accessible healthcare service should have multilingual support to assist people irrespective of regional and cultural backgrounds.
- App Security:
Healthcare apps often use the user’s personal information to ensure a personalized app experience and the correct medical assistance. A healthcare mobile application should ensure user data protection through security measures like multifactor authentication, etc.
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- API Integrations:
APIs help in developing better mobile applications by making use of already developed and tested services. Google and Apple make their APIs open source so that mobile developers can use them to increase in-app functionality instead of building from scratch.
The following are specific medical-related features that you can consider including in your healthcare app to improve your user experience:
The use of communication to provide medical care services to patients rapidly is known as telemedicine. Telemedicine focuses on the digitization of traditional clinical practices. Telehealth is a more user-based approach to improving the quality of user healthcare.
Increased use of digital technology has made telemedicine an essential part of mobile healthcare apps. Covid-19 has drastically increased the number of digital healthcare users. The global telemedicine market is expected to reach 460 billion US dollars by 2030.
- Health Information Exchange (HIE):
HIE is the main segment of medical technology. It involves remote patient monitoring for health condition data like heart rate, body temperature, etc. via electronic smart devices. You can add this feature to your healthcare app to allow for better provision of healthcare services.
- Electronic Health Record (EHR/EMR):
Electronic health record systems are used extensively in the medical field. They are a database of all the patients and their previous healthcare providers.
Integrating EHR/EMR in your mobile app helps medical professionals to store and review patients’ medical records automatically. It reduces communication errors and helps to prevent time wastage. The global EHR market is expected to reach 40 billion US dollars in 2024.
- Medical Billing:
An app feature to pay and check medical bills from a smart device anywhere in the world. A reliability-centered maintenance solution is usually integrated to provide medical billing options.
Built-in diagnostics features usually work with linked IoT devices. They send the user’s health data to the doctors to quickly analyze it in order that they may offer medication and suggest future treatment. This process is all done remotely.
Now that you have seen some of the possible use cases and features that you can build in your healthcare mobile app, let us go through the actual healthcare app development process. It is a roadmap that will act as a safe approach to your healthcare application development process.
The Healthcare App Development Process
1. Find a healthcare app idea
The first stage is to determine the type of healthcare app that you want to build.
For example, is it going to assist healthcare professionals, or is it a general consumer product, etc?
You need to develop a healthcare mobile app for a wide demographic of end-users. Start by thinking of a problem you want to provide a solution for with your app. This approach will help you decide on a solution-based mobile app idea.
For instance, during peak Covid-19, mobile apps that helped provide services relating to Covid-19 symptoms were extremely popular.
2. Market Research
Conventional market research is never enough when developing a business product. What is needed is actual consumer feedback. Tools like SoGoSurvey, Qualaroo, and Google Forms will help you understand your target audience. An MVP will get you direct customer feedback.
Consider these questions: What are your users’ demographics, what do they think about your app idea, what do they want to see in professional healthcare apps, etc?
It also helps you to measure the market dynamics for your app idea. Try to find answers to questions like, what is the market competition? Are the existing medical apps providing the same solution? How do users use these rival apps? What are the deficiencies in it?
3. Build healthcare mobile app developers Team
Once you have finalized your mobile app idea, it is time to start building it. To efficiently build your dream healthcare app, you will need a team of mobile application professionals.
Healthcare app development is a complex process that requires a deep understanding of the whole ecosystem. It is risky to hire individual freelancers for healthcare mobile application development. You may face difficulties due to a lack of technical skills, domain knowledge, meeting timeline commitments, etc.
Another option is to build a dedicated team for your healthcare app. The vetting process will be time and resource-consuming for you.
This will give you better control over the project development process. However, there are a few cons to hiring workers on a full-time basis, most of all the limitation on the skill sets they can bring as individuals.
An alternative to hiring your in-house team of developers is to outsource developers from a hybrid software development company.
These specialist companies allow you to outsource any number of their vetted full-time developers as and when you need them. This allows maximum flexibility while also giving you access to a huge pool of skill sets.
Advantages of this approach include:
- Skilled Software Development Partner – You will have access to a larger pool of skilled developers. Software development is a large domain. With a software Development Company, you will find an expert individual for any particular app development task.
- One-time Hassle Vetting Hassle – You will have to go through the interview and vetting process once when partnering with a software development company. Since they vet all developers, you only need to conduct a brief interview to assess each developer you onboard.
- Streamlined Development Procedures – Software development companies have well-tested development strategies and frameworks like Agile and Scrum in place to ensure the rapid development of software products. They should also offer dedicated project managers to oversee their developers’ performance and to help you manage the process where needed.
Software development companies also allow you to fully outsource your mobile medical app development. While this is the most expensive option, it saves you a lot of time and effort.
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Read our guide on how to choose the right software development company as your partner.
4. Plan Mobile App Development Strategy
Now you have found your suitable healthcare app development partner, you can start building your healthcare app. The first stage is to implement your app development methodology.
In the Software industry, there are different software development methodologies to guide the process that relate to specific project/development requirements.
There are different frameworks to help development teams implement these methodologies. The reason for this is to allow for a uniform set of standards and guidelines to follow by all members of the team throughout the process.
Agile, for example, is used extensively in the software industry. Agile encourages the rapid development of software products in increments. Each incremental software delivery ensures the overall product improves and meets the customers’ needs.
Base your choice on your project and timeframe requirements along with the past experience of your project manager.
5. Design and Develop an MVP
The next step is to use your market research data and design a simple app with the essential features. Read our guide on designing a mobile app for more information.
A simple version of the mobile app is called a Minimum viable product (MVP).
The MVP will help you reach your customers so that you can benefit from their feedback to create the product that they will ultimately want to use. You will need to ask your developers to incorporate the required user feedback in your next incremental cycle of the app development process.
This way you will create the best possible healthcare mobile app you can. Moreover, this is the best way to ensure project success.
Skills required in app developers from partner healthcare app development company
Given the complexity of healthcare app development, you need to make 100% sure that you have the right skills in your development team.
Given that each project is different, we can’t give you an all-encompassing list, however, here is a general set of things to look for in a developer or development partner.
Different countries have different legal and privacy regulations that mHealth apps must comply with. The health industry is very strict when it comes to standard compliance (with huge fines for data leaks, etc.).
Your software development partner must have expert knowledge regarding healthcare laws and policies for a mobile app. Some of the common healthcare compliance regulations include:
- HIPAA: All healthcare mobile apps in the US market gathering and processing health data must be HIPPA compliant. HIPAA ensures the confidentiality and security of electronic health data. Hitech is another standard that is used to protect user data privacy in the US.
- PIPEDA: This is a patient data security standard for mobile apps providing healthcare services in the Canadian market. It applies to all healthcare mobile apps collecting and storing personal data.
- GDPR: Applies to all the healthcare apps operating in the European Union. It ensures the security of personal information. Its clauses are very similar to the PIPEDA.
The Healthcare industry is a complex ecosystem of interconnected entities. Healthcare interoperability ensures a secure exchange of health-related information between different systems.
For example, the HL7 healthcare interoperability standard facilitates the transmission of users’ health data from health wearables like Fitbit devices.
Such interoperability enables the secure and reliable exchange of patient data between different healthcare facilities and minimizes the requirement of unnecessary diagnostic testing. Healthcare interoperability includes:
Some integration standards to implement healthcare interoperability are:
- Messaging Standards – Outlines the content and structure for electronic messages shared between the healthcare systems. Examples include Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM), which are used for sharing radiology images, HL7 v2.x for administrative data, etc.
- Documentation Standards – These include the type and location of information shared through the document. An example is HL7 Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) for sharing electronic health records.
- Terminology Standards – To give unique names or codes to a disease for their uniform classification. For example, code R96 is for Asthma. Some terminology standards include ICPC-20, SNOMED CT, IOINC, etc. These standards classify medical information related to primary care, secondary research, and laboratory reports.
Software development Expertise:
Apart from healthcare-specific knowledge, your mobile health app development team should be skilled in the use of the latest medical mobile app development tools and software. General skills and technologies they should be expert in include:
Expertise in Mobile Healthcare Application Development
When developing a mobile healthcare app you will need developers with the right technical skills including using mobile development tools and the right frameworks. Some of these skills include:
- Native Android App Development:
Expertise in developing apps for the Android platform with the ability to ensure maximum performance, memory management, security, etc.
Developers should be experts in using Android Integrated Development Environment (IDE) tools such as Android Studio and Software Development Kit (SDK) to develop apps efficiently.
Developers must be knowledgeable about app testing with tools like Espresso Test and Appium. They should also be skilled in designing user-friendly and interactive UI/UX in line with the Material Design guidelines for Android app design.
- Native iOS App Development:
Development of apps for Apple products like iPad, iPhone, etc. requires skills in different programming languages and tools than used in Android development.
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Swift and Objective-C were developed by Apple for native iOS app development. Swift is popular today thanks to its features that include support for development libraries, efficient memory management, etc.
Developers should be experts in using Xcode IDE for efficient app development, as well as know the human interface guidelines for interactive app UI design, and testing tools like XCTest to launch bug-free healthcare mobile apps.
Expertise in Cloud Computing
Cloud computing services have become quite common today given the flexibility they introduce in the software development life cycle, thus, maximizing the efficiency of the whole process.
Cloud computing services include:
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – This allows building a mobile app on cloud infrastructure. Developers can work on any hardware specifications through virtual machines and IP addresses. Developers are responsible for the application development only.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Provides platforms like operating systems, development environments (IDEs), database storage, etc. Some PaaS examples are AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Azure, and Google App Engine.
Software as a Service (SaaS) – Provides access to applications on the cloud. Developers do not need to install, update, and maintain software on their systems. SaaS provides them with a re-configured software package to use.
Expertise in API Development and Integration
Developers should be skilled in API development and integration. This expertise is necessary to integrate the healthcare systems like EHR/EMR, etc. into your mobile app.
Developers should know REST (Representational State Transfer) architecture for API development, securing API gateways through encryption, and API request-response mechanisms.
Expertise in Secure Healthcare Application Development
Application security is of prime importance with healthcare software solutions. Your app development team should ensure a secure mechanism in place, one which follows all the regulatory requirements. Some security-related skills in developers are:
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA) so that mobile apps are not relying on user passwords alone.
- Knowledge of application-level threats, like denial of service, scripting attacks, etc., and how to prevent them.
- Encryption algorithms like DES, RSA, etc. for secure data storage and transfer.
- Familiarity with Compliance-As-Code to ensure security and standard compliance throughout all mobile app development stages.
Additional Skills Your Dev Team Might Need for healthcare application development:
Developers should be experts in state-of-the-art digital technologies to ensure that you can develop a next-level mobile app that attracts more customers. These technologies include:
- Artificial Intelligence:
AI is used today to provide a personalized mobile app experience to users. AI uses user data to create personalized healthcare suggestions.
Developers should know supervised and unsupervised ML algorithms, ML tool kits, and frameworks like TensorFlow, PyTorch, Google Cloud ML, etc. to efficiently implement machine learning algorithms for app features. Python is the most widely used programming language for AI.
- Internet of Things (IoT):
IoT is mainly used in health technology by utilizing wearable devices and integrating medical equipment with medical apps on mobile devices. An example includes a smartwatch to collect biological data. Its data can be sent to a healthcare mobile app for detailed analysis and healthcare-related suggestions. The IoT device, in case of emergencies, will alert the healthcare providers.
Blockchain is mainly used to develop secure, automated databases and smart contracts in healthcare systems. Blockchain technology can be implemented for verification purposes, research, and development, supply chain management, etc.
Read our article on how to secure apps through blockchain.
Final thoughts on healthcare application development
Healthcare mobile app development is an extensive process that requires highly skilled healthcare app developers.
If you don’t have the needed expertise, then why not take a moment to contact DevTeam.Space for healthcare app development services.
Our community of field-expert developers has created numerous standard-compliant medical applications using the latest technologies. Simply send us your mobile medical app development project details and one of our dedicated account managers will be in touch.
Top 3 FAQs for How to Lead a Healthcare Application Development
Healthcare mobile app monetization is possible through:
In-app purchase of premium features,
Providing subscription for medical services/content.
Some reasons why a healthcare app fails in the market are:
It is not solving any particular healthcare problem for users,
Insufficient health apps market research or medical industry knowledge,
Poor user experience in terms of UI, features, and accessibility for customers.
A good healthcare app development team would include,
Project manager for implementing project development strategy by the development team and for maintaining communication with the client.
UI/UX designer for designing app interfaces.
Android/Apple app developers for native mobile app development.
App testers for ensuring the launch of a bug-free app by running tests on it.
Cross-platform app developers for ensuring the app runs on any mobile device.
Back-end developers for managing cloud computing services, databases, and servers.