Develop A Successful Healthcare Mobile App: The Ultimate Guide

Mobile apps are spearheading the adoption of technology in the field of healthcare. Healthcare mobile applications are actively contributing to improved patient outcomes while improving on the accessibility and convenience to streamline delivery of medical services. 

According to a recent survey, 56 percent of US physicians said that they have discussed an app or a digital program with a patient related to their diagnosis or treatment in the past year. 

While the benefits mobile applications offer in improving patient outcomes and promoting interoperability are multifold, developing an app for healthcare also involves major attention to detail in areas like data privacy and security, making healthcare app development a bit different than conventional app development. 

Step by step guide to building a healthcare application

The competition in the app market is extremely fierce. Standing out from the crowd, reaching the target audience and receiving downloads while managing to engage and retain the users is no small feat in these ultra-competitive times.

Starting out right is extremely vital as a task well begun is truly half done. Here is a 10 step process that healthcare entrepreneurs looking to enter the healthtech space need to follow through to maximize the chances of success. 

1. Brainstorm and validate the app idea

The key to turning your app idea into reality and developing a successful healthcare application lies in knowing what problem you want your app to solve for its users. Focusing on the purpose rather than the product leads to development of an application that your audience actually needs rather than an app that you think your users want. 

The actual use cases and the target audience that you are developing the app for fall across a very wide range. As a result of this, there is a whole list of features that you may feel are a good fit for your app and need to be incorporated. However, having a clear vision of the problem you want your app to solve gives you a much necessary focus and prevents you from biting off more than you can chew. 

Make sure you conduct a thorough analysis to make sure that you aren’t wasting your time and resources developing an app similar to one that already exists out in the market. If your app functions along the same lines as an existing app, make sure you have something that sets you apart from the competition and raises the bar a little higher. 

Define the problem, elucidate how your app will help you solve it and more importantly, who it is solving it for. Having the target audience clearly outlined also helps you focus on the specifics you may otherwise have missed out on. For example, if you are developing a mobile app for the inpatients at a hospital, you are more likely to focus on ensuring interoperability with the existing hospital management system rather than when developing an app for a more generic user base. 

2. Decide on the platform of development

Once you have shortlisted the problem and the audience your app is going to solve it for, the next step forward is determining the platform you want to focus on when developing your application. 

Android, iOS or both at the same time?

The answer to this dilemma lies in introspecting on your requirements and the resources you have available at your disposal. Native Android and iOS apps offer an enhanced user experience but they also require double the time and resources to individually develop an app for both Apple and Android devices. 

Based on your target audience’s preferences, you can prioritize one platform first. Conversely, if your audience is spread across a range of devices, both iOS and Android, go for cross-platform development. It is cheaper to develop than native apps with the ability to work across multiple platforms. 

Cross-platform frameworks like Flutter and React Native enable faster development of apps across multiple platforms powered by a single shared codebase which can be deployed simultaneously across both the platforms. 

3. Determine the approach: going all-in or building incrementally?

When developing a mobile application, it is natural to aim for something that is all-encompassing and has the perfect set of features but taking an MVP-first approach is likely to contribute more to the app’s success. 

A minimum viable product (MVP) is the most basic version of your app which has all the core, must-have features and is devoid of all fancy bells and whistles in the form of nice-to-have features which are added on a later date in future iterations of the app.

A number of successful apps of today like Uber, Facebook, Airbnb and Instagram started out as MVPs so following the MVP-first methodology definitely lands you in good company. It accelerates your time to market, gives you a chance to validate your app idea and incorporates user feedback in the future version of your app bringing you closer to achieving a product-market fit. 

Start with building the simplest version of your healthcare app and align it with your future, feature-packed vision by building incrementally.

4. Design and develop the app for a superlative user experience

Whether you are developing an app aimed at the healthcare professionals or are targeting patients as the end-users, the user experience that your app provides has the chance to make it or break it. Start by designing a prototype for your app. 

Prototyping doesn’t have to feel like rocket science. It can be as simple as drawing the design flow on a piece of paper or a whiteboard. Conversely, you can choose from a range of prototyping tools available to design your digital app prototype. And if even that doesn’t sound like an appealing plan, hiring an app development company that provides prototyping services can help translate your app ideas into functioning clickable prototypes that let you validate your app by collecting real-time user feedback. 

Pay extra attention to the UI/UX design of your application. The design of your app has a huge impact on its overall usability and user engagement. An app that provides a sub-par user experience would likely end up being uninstalled at some point in time. The healthcare app doesn’t just need to function well, it needs to look good as well. 

Taking an iterative approach to development and building incrementally in distinct modules lets the developer make changes to the app without affecting its overall functioning. Ensuring integration with third-party APIs and frameworks that already exist out there helps development proceed at a faster rate as it eliminates the need for the team to reinvent the wheel. 

App integrations with EMRs and EHRs are crucial to promoting healthcare interoperability. With the recent strides into the internet of medical things (IoMT), connecting with healthcare and fitness wearables and making use of the data being collected to promote healthcare outcomes is also something you would need to look into. Modern healthcare apps can make use of Artificial Intelligence algorithms in order to leverage the data collected to obtain insightful and actionable inferences. 

5. Pay adequate attention to testing

The quality requirements for healthcare applications are quite stringent and the testing phase of the application should leave no room for error at all. The bar for quality, safety, security and accuracy in medical applications is raised quite high so your app needs to pass through highest quality assurance standards before getting published at the app store. 

Whether you choose manual testing or automated testing, here are the quality assurance aspects that the software testers need to keep in mind before releasing the healthcare application to the market. 

  1. Data security- Healthcare data is a primary target for the hackers so all areas of vulnerability need to be identified and eliminated in the testing phase itself. Encryption of healthcare data through a transport layer security helps in data validation in the healthcare app. 
  2. Data privacy and confidentiality- Strict authorization and access control measures have to be set up within the healthcare application to ensure that the data is only received by its intended recipients. 
  3. Usability- There can be absolutely no room for error in case of usability in a healthcare application as usability problems can translate into clinical issues impacting the overall health outcomes. Even small usability problems encountered in the app can add up resulting in an unfavorable user experience. 
  4. Performance- The healthcare applications may need to give ready access of patient data when required so performance testing becomes very important when developing healthcare apps. Your app needs to be testing against high load and performance benchmarks.  

6. Do not overlook the data security

mHealth applications that collect any kind of personally-identifying information need to meet the regulatory compliances like HIPAA. The health insurance portability and accountability act (HIPAA) applies to both the covered entities and their business associates. The repercussions of non-compliance are hefty fines so following through the HIPAA checklist is something all healthcare app developers need to be mindful about. 

Working with a specialized healthcare software development company which has a wide range of experience in healthcare app development and is well-versed with the compliance and security challenges involved pays off better in the long run. 

A software development firm that specializes in healthcare can go over and beyond their requirements and give you valuable insights drawn from their previous experiences. Based on their previous knowledge they can help you right from conceptualization phase to the app launch, thus becoming important stakeholders in your success. 

7. Maintenance and support

The app development journey does not culminate at the launch of the app but rather extends beyond that. Maintenance, support and scalability are important factors that you need to keep in mind and plan for when developing a healthcare mobile application. 

In order to succeed in the competitive healthcare market, collecting customer feedback and incorporating it in the future iterations of your app is crucial. The long-term ramifications of development dictate development of a rewarding partnership with an experienced healthcare app development company rather than relying on one-time stakeholders for development and maintenance of your application. 

With 9+ years of experience, Arkenea consistently ranks among the top healthcare software development companies. From developing telemedicine platforms and cloud-based EHRs to surgical workflow programs and doctor engagement applications, our team of experts has helped healthcare companies achieve success at the app stores while raising millions in venture capital. Get in touch with our teams of experts now. 

Vinati Kamani

Dr Vinati Kamani writes about emerging technology and its application across industries for Arkenea. She is an avid reader and self proclaimed bibliophile. When Vinati is not at her desk penning down articles or reading up on the recent trends, she can be found travelling to remote places and soaking up different cultural experiences.