11 Biggest Healthcare App Dev Challenges

Key Takeaways

  • Patient privacy and security are one of the constant healthcare app challenges faced by developers. A 2021 study published in the British Medical Journal stated that only 47 percent of data transmissions complied with the mHealth app’s privacy policies.
  • Healthcare providers often keep their data in multiple places, which gives rise to interoperability issues, which again is a critical healthcare app challenge faced by mobile app developers.
  • One of the prominent healthcare app challenges is to aggregate this data and clean it regularly. Patient data is spread across numerous devices and facilities, and pulling it all together requires collaboration from different providers.

A report estimated that there were 86.3 million users of health and fitness apps in the USA in 2022. The rise in the adoption of healthcare apps is due to awareness of the importance of health during the pandemic period.

Additionally, the seamless integration of EHR, patient portals, and billing systems with healthcare apps is compelling providers and patients to use it daily. Despite its tangible benefits, there are numerous healthcare app challenges faced by developers during the development and post-development stages.

Let’s look at each one of them in brief.

11 Healthcare App Challenges Faced by Developers

1. Patient Security and Privacy

In 2022, Meta accused the parent company Facebook was using its pixel technology to access patient information from portals and websites of hospitals and health systems for targeted marketing. Later on, a series of questions regarding the company’s data tracking policies was sent to the CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg. This case points out the vulnerability of ePHI, patient security, and privacy concerns. For healthcare app developers this poses the biggest challenge.

For developers to create a safe application, with no bugs, errors, or gaps for any mishaps is the utmost challenge. A 2021 study published in the British Medical Journal stated that only 47 percent of data transmissions complied with the mHealth app’s privacy policies, and 28 percent didn’t provide a privacy policy at all. This is a major concern for users who are using wellness and healthcare applications for their treatment.

The solution to this is to build a healthcare app that complies with all the FDA rules, HIPAA regulations, Meaningful Use, HL7, FHIR, and other relevant policies mentioned by the government. Healthcare app developers can keep a close eye on the upgraded policies and upcoming new rules.

2. Interoperability

For healthcare vendors who deal with vast health networks, inconsistent data across the network is a huge issue. Healthcare providers place their data in multiple places, and health IT departments often waste time searching for it. Hence, developers can consider adopting a unified network for smooth data sharing.

In 2020, the CMS published the CMS Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule which states that all patients have easy access to their data via healthcare apps. Despite these federal initiatives, several interoperability challenges remain. These include:

  • Lack of integrations
  • Disjoined healthcare IT enforcement
  • Information blocking
  • Difficulty in implementing interoperability standards
  • Challenges coordinating stakeholders across the industry

3. Lack of Payment Models for Healthcare Apps

Several mobile healthcare apps are free of charge, but some of them charge users for services or features. Usually, users are on the lookout for free or minimal costing apps.

Providing assistance or medical advice is a common feature of a healthcare app. However, charging for this feature can put patients in a dilemma as they’re unsure that they’ll get value for their money.

Hence, in these situations, it’s wise to use a money-back model where users are assured that they’ll get their money back if they aren’t satisfied with it. Additionally, developers can use the freemium model, allow a few features to be used for free, and charge for additional ones.

4. Big Data Management

As per McKinsey, big data is a dataset whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to store, capture, manage, and analyze. Sources of big data in healthcare include patient portals, wearables, EHRs, payer records, search engines, public records, research studies, and much more.

One of the prominent healthcare app challenges is to aggregate this data and clean it regularly. Patient data is spread across numerous devices and facilities, and pulling it all together requires collaboration from different providers; agreement on the data format. The aggregated data needs to be cleaned to ascertain its consistency, correctness, and accuracy.

Moreover, the cost is another healthcare app challenge faced while adopting big data in healthcare. Medical facilities are required to purchase technology and software to manage big data, along with analyzing it. Facilities will have to hire data analysts, which brings in more expenses.

5. Implementing AI and IoMT

The state of AI survey conducted by Deloitte stated the top AI challenges faced in healthcare and they are as follows:

  • AI integration into the workflow (30 percent)
  • Managing AI-related risks (28 percent)
  • High costs of AI solutions (36 percent)
  • Data-related challenges (28 percent)
  • AI implementation (28 percent)
  • Choosing the right AI tools (27 percent)

Apart from this, AI poses ethical and legal issues, which are the biggest hurdle in developing AI-based healthcare apps. Since ePHI is protected by law and must be kept confidential, it keeps AI developers from accessing high-quality datasets to create AI training data for healthcare applications.

Furthermore, another AI-driven healthcare app challenges include building an easy, self-instructing, and user-friendly application. In terms of IoMT, issues about acquiring a license to market the app and sell it to medical facilities are crucial challenges faced by healthcare app developers.

6. Integrations and APIs

Health app integration is a complex process and it’s necessary that data is accessible and managed. Complexity in integration gives rise to app challenges such as:

  • Lack of Standardization: For data to be accessed, it needs to be standardized across all systems. It’s not easy as organizations have different formats and systems for data storage.
  • Fragmented Systems: This occurs when different parts of organizations function independently of each other, resulting in a lack of coordination and communication. This causes problems such as duplicate data entry and inconsistency in patient care.
  • Absence of Personal Resources: Finding the right talent for system integration is the biggest hurdle. Recruit top, specialized developers for healthcare integration tasks. Consider turning to a healthcare IT recruitment firm such as Arkenea to get the best experts in the field.

Barriers to API introduction include the high cost of API creation (approximately $20,000) and data sharing and privacy issues. Compliance with regulatory standards poses another obstacle for healthcare app developers.

7. Patient Experience and Engagement

Poor interface design leads to unsatisfied patient experience and engagement. Unclear navigational tools and a lack of information explaining to patients where to look for certain things result in low patient engagement and experience. Furthermore, if the patients are kept from fully understanding their medical conditions also causes issues with engagement.

Patients feel demotivated and lack interest to use the healthcare app. Thus, it’s essential for healthcare app developers to design a robust user interface, with visible buttons, CTA, a toolbar, and proper color code. So, even the ones with poor eyesight can easily navigate their way through the application.

8. Regulations and Compliance

Healthcare policies tend to change often, and this is done to promote accessibility and efficiency in the healthcare sector. So, consider working with the legal team to ensure that the healthcare app is designed as per the updated regulations. Further, the line of action factor in HIPAA is one of the crucial healthcare app challenges faced by the developers. It’s a common mistake made by developers if they ignore the planning of the app’s layout.

Also, not adhering to HIPAA compliance, HL7, FDA guidelines, or other regulations can lead to criminal charges, fines, and penalties. These charges can cause the organization a fortune and they end up losing the trust of their users in the long run. This is harmful to the organization in terms of revenue generation.

9. Managing the Volatility of Market Trends

Today, it’s necessary to operate as per the latest market trends to sustain the growing competition. Fluctuations in market conditions occur due to changing lifestyles, new devices, and compliance.

Additionally, investors focus more on solutions that integrate with the latest technologies and popular trends in the market. Developers need to realize the current demand of users and modify and update healthcare app designs in that direction.

10. Design and Accessibility

Faults with healthcare app design and architecture give a bad impression of the development company. Incorrect actions of the app can lead to incorrect filling of patients’ data and further diagnosis. Therefore, a well-thought design interface ensures quick navigation, and correct actions, and builds trust in users. Patients and providers can easily communicate with each other, saving their time by optimizing data usage and storage.

11. Testing and Maintenance

The app development doesn’t end at the launch stage, it needs constant upgradation and periodical checks, which is a challenge it itself. Support, maintenance, and scalability are essential aspects that developers need to keep in mind while creating a mobile healthcare application. To succeed in the market, ensure to get feedback from users and incorporate it in future iterations of the app.

With the right team of developers, healthcare app challenges can be overcome easily. Arkenea provides you with the right team of developers, who are experts in their fields. They’ll ensure that you get an advanced healthcare app that meets your industry standards. So, get in touch with Arkenea today.