Usage of healthcare applications amongst patients and medical staff surged during the Covid-19 pandemic, and continues to accelerate. Ease of consultation via phones or laptops, along with better remote patient care is augmenting the adoption of healthcare applications across the country.
As per a report, the US mHealth apps market is expected to rise at a CAGR of 9.7 percent during 2022-2030 timeframe. Integration of features such as EMR/EHR (Electronic Health Records), appointment scheduling, reminders, anytime access to medical records, and more is further driving the usage of healthcare application, which in turn is enhancing the need for healthcare app development.
This article highlights one of the core processes of app development – designing; specifically designing that’s suitable for healthcare application development.
3 Steps of Healthcare Application Design
1. Conduct In-depth Planning and Research
This step is a combination of grasping the concept of app or idea, collecting and organizing requirements, and market research.
Market research can be broadly classified into two main sections – competitors’ research and knowing target audience.
a. Competitors’ Research
Competitors’ research allows to crosscheck whether app developers and designers are going in the right direction or not; whether they’re accurate in work or not. This also helps to understand the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of competitors, based on which a development team or owner of a healthcare app can come up with their USP.
Competitor research gives an idea to designers about features included, colors used, layout, and the overall look and feel of a healthcare app. They can then easily create a design that’s suitable to their healthcare application.
b. Target Audience Research
Ideally, for healthcare apps, the target audience are patients and healthcare providers. However, these two categories differ in terms of how they use a healthcare app. For instance, doctors may want to quickly gain access to EHR data for further treatment. Whereas, patients may want to lookup content on certain disease on a healthcare app.
Designers can proceed with adding features and functionalities as per the needs of target audience, and purpose of a healthcare application.
Based on these two core researches, designers can strategize a roadmap and act on it accordingly. This is where the planning aspect comes in the picture. Planning involves listing out features, color, alignment, font, CTA (Call to Action) etc. that are to be included in an application.
2. Start With UX Design
UX designing is the process of designing an app by keeping user in the mind. As per the Digital Skills Survey 2020, conducted by BrainStation, a UX designer takes upon the following app designing responsibilities day-to-day.
a. User Research
The main purpose of user research is to put design into context. Research helps to understand problem to be solved; defines users, and in what context they’ll be using healthcare application.
User research ensures that designers are creating a healthcare app with users in mind. Further, user research helps in validating assumptions, find commonalities and patters, shed light on users’ needs, and target larger groups.
Research for healthcare application design process is divided into qualitative and quantitative data, for better insights. It also assures better applications, plus saves time and money.
IA (Information Architecture) is basically a practice of organizing content in an effective way. IA describes a way of mapping out information to state a clear purpose.
This helps to optimize user interaction and navigation with a healthcare application. With this, designing team can further start building prototypes and wireframes.
Users visit apps and websites for quality content, hence its essential to bring forth valuable content that’s easy to find. Bad IA leads to invaluable content, that’s not discovered by users, hence its vital to create an IA that provides information easily to users. Users might end up abandoning an app due to complex and invaluable content.
Wireframing in designing involves visualizing the skeleton of all digital applications. Wireframes are used at the start of the designing process, to visualize the entire blueprint of digital applications.
An early visual through wireframing is used to review the entire app with a client. This brings in early feedbacks for usability testing. Further, wireframing is an excellent approach to provide a clear idea of the functioning of features and how they’ll appear on an app.
d. Persona Development
A persona is a fictional character that represents characteristics of a real user. For designers, personas are essential to understand and empathize with target audience.
A UX persona consists of demographic data, illustrations or avatars, goals of app, challenges, etc. Persona development is essential for obtaining a clear view point on research findings and stay focused on the right track during healthcare app design.
e. Prototyping and High Fidelity Designing
Prototypes offer a higher-fidelity design of a healthcare application, which can be used for testing. UX designers build a prototype to have a look at the range of capabilities and feel of a healthcare application.
Clickable prototypes allow designers to point out areas of improvement and risks associated with the current healthcare app design.
Testing allows designers to interact with a prototype, and analyze its usability, accessibility, and intuitiveness. Its one of the crucial steps before launching the final version of an app into the market.
3. Enhance App Outlook With UI Design
While designing, its important for designers to be consistent with their choice of elements. These elements add on to the efficiency, completion, and satisfaction of the overall healthcare application design process.
Below is a list of crucial UI elements, however it isn’t limited to it.
a. Input Controls
Input controls include radio buttons, checkboxes, dropdown lists, buttons, list boxes, toggles, date field, text fields, etc. These controls are useful while designing forms for filling out medical details or to get feedback from patients.
For highlighting CTAs, designers can make use of buttons at the right places such as after the main heading or at the bottom of the page.
b. Navigational Components
Navigational components encompass slider, breadcrumb, search bar, tags, pagination, icons, etc. These components tell users where to head next or where users can find their desired piece of information, for example, appointment bookings or contact information.
Further, to develop an effective healthcare, navigation plays a key role, as without it apps wouldn’t be widely accepted. Navigational components speeds up search and allows ease-of-use, which is valuable from a users’ perspective.
Confusing navigation results in unhappy and unsatisfied patients, resulting in fewer users of a healthcare app (hampering revenue, time, and efforts along the way).
For healthcare application design, consider using cool colors, as these are calming to look at, and do not radiate too much attention or cause irritation to users.
Some of the recommended colors for healthcare application are green, blue, white, and pink. Designers can play around with these combinations to land a perfect texture and gradient that’s suitable for their healthcare app.
Typography influences readability and comfort of eyes to catch words in first glance. Fonts and alignments fall under this category.
Consider following a consistent pattern in fonts, and balance it well with H1, H2, H3, etc. Properly positioned words and sentences showcases a neat and clean design.
e. Informational Elements
Informational elements consists of progress bar, icons, tooltips, notifications, modal windows, message boxes, etc. These elements help to convey meaning to users in one glance, for instance icons can convey actions – no smoking.
Critical Considerations of Healthcare App Design
Building security and privacy protections in healthcare apps, websites, or software augments their value, as it offers an assurance that data is secured, and won’t be disclosed unless approved by certain individuals.
Federal and state laws impose on the use of HIPAA (Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance for all healthcare technology products, as this ensures privacy and security of vital medical records.
Technology isn’t immune to cyber attacks or data breaches, hence unauthorized access to sensitive information is a possibility. HIPAA brings with it risk-free data transfer between care providers and other entities.
Encryption plays a crucial role for safeguarding medical data. Without HIPAA, healthcare applications are subjected to criminal charges and fines, which can go up to $50,000 per data breach.
2. Functionality and Features
Design and functionality works together. A great design solves users’ issues by adding necessary functionalities and features in a healthcare application.
Type of features to be added depends on purpose of a healthcare application development, for instance medical facilities who want their patients to have access to their records, would want an app with reports and analysis as a feature.
Consider avoiding clutter on the main page as it leads to confusion and loss of focus by users. Further, keep on adding new features when users need them and to make a healthcare app more effective.
Some of the essential features to include are –
c. AI and cloud integrations
d. User profile and dashboard
e. Chats and video conferencing
Accessibility promotes equal opportunity for all individuals. According to CDC, approximately 1 in 4 American adult suffer from some form of disability. As people get older, they’re susceptible to physical conditions such as arthritis, poor eye sight, or hearing loss. Hence, its essential that all healthcare applications are designed in a way that’s accessible to all people, irrespective of disabilities.
Designers can follow the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) for creating an accessible healthcare app. As per WCAG guidelines, healthcare applications should be perceivable, robust, understandable, and operable.
Medical data is critical for healthcare professionals in order to make sound decisions. Thus, its crucial that data is presented without any errors or misinterpretations.
Doctors may not be able to view real-time data of a patient if a healthcare app’s performance is slow; thereby affecting treatment or diagnoses decisions. Avert from using facets which can hamper app’s optimal performance. This can include animations, too many features, or bugs.
Healthcare organizations can opt for customized healthcare application designs for enhancing authenticity of their facilities. Customization is an effective way to increase credibility of services offered at healthcare organizations.
Partner with a software development company that specializes in custom healthcare app development, such as Arkenea. Tailor made apps adds to the overall experience of patients and help organizations achieve their goals faster.
Interactive healthcare applications engage users long enough for them to stick around.
Small things such as screen transitions, pre-populated fields, automatic keyboard adjustments, haptic feedback, and micro animations increases interactivity of a healthcare app.
7. Platform Guidelines
Android or iOS platforms, whichever platform designers are working on, consider taking into account every platform’s design best practices and specifics.
For healthcare applications to work seamlessly on phones, desktops, watches, and other platforms, consider the following –
a. Web design principles by WC3
b. Human interface guidelines by Apple
c. Material design by Google
Looking for a healthcare app designing and development company for your organization? Connect with Arkenea – a healthcare software development company with over 10 years of experience, and get a customized app designed by our experienced developers.