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2020 definitely made history not only in our lives but also in the health apps market. According to CB Insights, every aspect of telemedicine, including health education services, remote patient monitoring (RPM), and remote doctor-patient consultations, got a huge boost (up nearly 300% in investment).
I bet even without these numbers, everyone can say that health is a top priority, especially in light of recent events. As the number of mHealth users is growing, the demand for healthcare mobile app development is inevitable. The market of mobile healthcare applications is predicted to exceed 300 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. So, if you’re hesitating whether to build a healthcare app, now it's high time.
Creating a medical startup requires a deep analysis of ideas, trends, and development steps. In this article, I've prepared a detailed plan on the healthcare mobile app development process. I’ll explain what a healthcare app is, spell all the nuances out and give some tips on creating MVP for digital health apps. So, make yourself comfortable and enjoy the read!
What is a Healthcare App?
mHealth niche is very broad and includes a variety of apps, from professional ones to more basic ones. The purpose of mobile healthcare applications also differs. mHealth apps simplify our lives: they track our health data, ensure remote assistance, give 24/7 access to doctors, share tips on improving our health, and more. Overall, the purpose depends on the app category you choose.
It's important to mind the categories when looking for healthcare app developers as you need to provide them with input data. Let's take a look at existing categories.
Professional Healthcare Apps
The name says for itself. Professional healthcare apps involve doctors. All apps used as mediators in communication and treatment processes between the patient and the doctor are called professional. DrChrono, Medscape, Locus Clinician are the great examples of professional mHealth apps. Here's the list of other professional apps types:
- Doctor appointment apps;
- Electronic medical/health records apps;
- Medical reference apps;
- Database apps;
- Health tracking apps;
- Networking apps (for doctors);
- Telemedicine apps.
Healthcare Apps for Patients
This category of app usually doesn't require doctors' involvement, but they provide a lot of useful information for patients. Let’s take BetterMe, NTC, Lifesum, for example. Healthcare apps for patients may include different features, and the list of types vary:
- Medical education apps
- Reminder apps
- Healthy lifestyle apps
- Dieting apps
- Diagnosis apps for preventive purposes
- Fitness apps
So, you have a large pool of choices for your startup idea. I gathered some examples of healthcare mobile app designs that you may take for reference before medical app development.
Healthcare App Startup Ideas
What can help you to implement your healthcare startup effectively? Right, hard work and visual experience. By hard work I mean you should study the medical industry deeply. It’s great to monitor existing healthcare apps, trends in healthcare and use them to move with the times. So look through design shots for several mHealth apps we created at Uptech.
Healthcare apps for direct interaction between patients and doctors play a crucial role today. Remote assistance and online communication may save lives. Doctor appointment apps allow patients to find the right doctor at a mutually comfortable time, and set the appointment in one click.
The goal of this app is straightforward — it reminds people to take drugs on time. If you're not going to build a full-fledged reminder app, I think it is an excellent feature that you can include in the doctor appointment app or any other healthcare app.
These two apps are created for everyone who wants to get healthy habits and monitor a health condition. Fitness apps are on the hype now. In 2020 the number of mHealth app users was 87.4 million, while only 2 years before, it was 62.7 million. It helps monitor the number of steps a user takes, burn calories, track heart rate, consume calories, propose exercises, etc. However, I'd recommend combining these apps with weights, wearable devices like fitness wristbands, and other training equipment.
Benefits of Healthcare App for Doctors and Patients
One of the reasons why medical app development became so popular is that it fulfils the main patients' and doctors' needs. There are a few significant advantages of the healthcare app I'd like to list here.
Benefits for Doctors
- Remote assistance
Mobile healthcare apps allow doctors to monitor patient's health even if they are far away. In addition, doctors can save their time visiting patients personally by contacting them through calls, video chats, or app chats.
- Effective workload distribution
With the help of mHealth apps, doctors can set up appointments at the most suitable time. They also can manage essential tasks via mobile and web apps.
- Brand awareness
Lack of loyalty and trust hurt no less than a toothache. Having a healthcare app boosts the brand awareness of a clinic or a doctor. When patients are treated in a clinic that has a digital presence, it contributes to trust and loyalty growth. As a result, they are more likely to choose the same clinic next time.
Benefits for Patients
- Improved treatment process
mHealth apps make it possible to arrange video calls to ensure more comfortable communication between patients and doctors. Doctors have all the tools needed to examine patients properly. They build prescription lists and can control the drug regimen in the app.
This one is on the surface, as online appointments cost less than personal appointments.
- Online payment
With the healthcare app, there is no need for cash. Patients simply can schedule an appointment and make a payment in the app. Fast, convenient, and accessible.
- Remote assistance
The majority of issues can be solved using healthcare apps, so people don't need to leave their houses. They don't need to waste time getting to the hospital or standing in the queue.
6 Steps to Build a Healthcare App
Healthcare mobile app development is not a straightforward process. There are many nuances and differences from other apps you need to consider. Here's the list of detailed steps that will make your thorny path shorter and help you avoid mistakes.
Step 1 – Do Market Analysis
As clear as it is, your healthcare app will be a waste of time if it is not valuable. Healthcare mobile app development involves market analysis. You need to study your niche, know more about your competitors, what value they bring, what their strong and weak sides are, and how you can stand out.
Step 2 – Study Your Audience
An important thing here is the user research phase. We at Uptech have worked on professional healthcare apps that aimed to help with health issues like bulimia, anorexia, and mental disorders. While healthcare application development, you should always be ready to face the sensitive problems of people. Conducting interviews, focus groups, or surveys is a challenge as you need to keep the balance: get to the root of the user's problem and keep the ethical balance.
My recommendation is to ask about the methodology, not personal issues. For example, when I interviewed a person with bulimia I asked the question “How do you create your eating schedule?” instead of “Did you feel hurt that your mother commented on your weight?”
“My recommendation is to ask about the methodology, not personal issues.“
I'd also like to give some tips on interviewing since I know all the angels.
- Prepare for the interview;
- Explain the context of the interview, its goals, and value;
- Guide the person you take the interview from;
- Don't take the information close to the heart;
- Don't take everything people say for true;
Even the most expensive healthcare app development services won't save your app if it is useless. That is why you must find out all the pain points of your target audience.
Step 3 – Choose App Type
As I mentioned above, the healthcare app type determines several things: the app's database, functionality, and app goal. You cannot just ask medical app developers to build any app, you need to define key points with a team, like:
- what kind of app you need;
- how it will work;
- what pains it will solve;
Step 4 – Create Design
Design completes the lion's share of the app's success, and the mHealth app design should be consistent and intuitive. Its goal is to lead the user to the endpoint smoothly. The design must be user-friendly, and the fewer interaction points it has, the better experience users get. Also, I recommend reducing the cognitive load of your app to the maximum.
Step 5 - Make it HIPAA Compliant
I can't stress it enough, the healthcare topic is a very sensitive one, and healthcare application development isn't simple. If you're planning to build a healthcare app, it's essential to comply with some regulations.
The idea of HIPAA is to ensure the protection of personal healthcare information for both parties: patients and healthcare providers. How to make sure that your app follows HIPAA requirements or not? It's a good question to ask, and here's a short checklist that will help you.
Why limit access? Specific user roles have access to users' health data information. Only the treating doctor can see their patient's profile with analysis, progress, diagnosis, etc.
How to ensure data encryption? Developers must use reliable encryption protocols that duly protect all personal health information. The IT team must collect information in a few copies on different servers to be restored in any crashes or errors and respond to any alerts immediately.
How to find HIPAA-compliant services? All healthcare mobile app development services must be HIPAA compliant. While working on one of the projects, we used Sendbird chat, which is HIPAA compliant. Though we had to customize it to our needs, so it's not an 'on the fly' process. Unfortunately, there's no list with all HIPAA-compliant services. It's a pity, I know, but here's the checklist you may use while choosing the service.
Note that this is not an exhaustive list of items to make your app complaint. I focused on technical issues mainly, but there're also administrative requirements, like assigning specific roles to people and creating policies. You can check the official guidelines to ensure that you're not breaking the rules. Also, you may collaborate with companies that provide audits on HIPAA to help you become/stay compliant.
Step 6 – Build MVP
Now since you've ensured to use secure services and picked the healthcare app type, the next step should be an MVP development. While building healthcare app MVP, you need to mind the fundamental MVP creation rules: build it fast and make it viable.
Before healthcare app MVP development, you need to prioritize the vital features, ensure they solve the problem, and iterate constantly. MVP gives you a competitive advantage because you enter the market faster and start gathering feedback from real users sooner than if you build a full-fledged product right away.
Healthcare App MVP: Features Checklist
It is worth mentioning that healthcare mobile app development is more or less similar. The onboarding, user flow, and functionality are often the same, and that’s the good news because you're able to use ready solutions. Another side is that building a healthcare app MVP can be entirely different since healthcare apps have many types and sub-types, and you need to decide the feature set that suits your app precisely.
So I won't list features for each app type, but there are a few features many healthcare apps include.
Finally, I would like to draw some conclusions from this article. In general, healthcare apps can be divided into 2 categories: professional with doctors involvement and apps for patients where doctors are optional.
If you have an idea to build a healthcare app, get ready for some challenges with user research and data security. Interviewing your potential customers could be hard as you deal with sensitive topics. Try to follow my advice on asking about methodology, not personal issues, and it will make the research phase smoother. Also, note that your app must be HIPAA-compliant and should comply with all required rules. Otherwise, you risk getting a penalty.
We at Uptech have extensive expertise in healthcare app development, so we know firsthand how to build your HIPAA-compliant software from the research stage to a ready-to-launch product. If you’re looking for a healthcare app development company or need any tips from professionals for your project? Contact us – we'll be happy to help you.
How much does it cost to develop a healthcare app?
The average price of building a healthcare app for iOS and Android with full backend infrastructure and a design will cost you approximately $150k. Note that the product management, QA, and team communication services are included in the price.
How do you make an effective medical mobile app?
Collaboration and product mindset are the foundation for making any app effective. A close work of product, design, and development teams makes it possible to create an app that works and fulfills users’ needs. And, of course, product mindset. It helps to make wise business decisions and focus on a customer.
How long does it take to develop a medical app?
The approximate time of building a healthcare app ranges from 5 to 6 months depending on the details: the features set, design, and specialists engaged in the process.