Hospital app development or developing apps for hospitals is more common than you think. More and more people are using healthcare applications for consultation or checkups.
For instance, around 64 percent American adults were reported to use an app to manage their health and 71 percent users believed that it would be beneficial if healthcare providers could access the data in their apps.
Also, as per Pew Research, usage of health and medical apps by Americans aged 12 and older increased by 53 percent due to growth in smartphone penetration. These trends suggest the need for every hospital to have an app for smooth diagnosis and management.
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Reasons for Hospital Mobile App Development
There are numerous reasons why your hospital needs a full-fledged mobile app, and these are as follows:
1. More Loyal Patients At The Hospital
Hospital mobile apps attract more patients because people are habitual of conducting several tasks online such as bill payments, hotel/flight bookings, grocery shopping, and much more. Further, a general surgeon from Houston – Rafael Lugo, said that digital marketing is not an option anymore for hospitals who are looking to capture more patients.
Also, push messaging and wayfinding are effective ways to attract patients with a mobile hospital app.
2. Better Efficiency
With hospital apps integrated with a database, physicians can access patients’ EMR (Electronic Medical Records), scrutinize test results, and prescribe medications in an easy way. Also, a with a healthcare app, doctors can give ample time to patients, thus improving quality of care.
3. A Promotional Tool
Hospitals can use apps for marketing their services, departments, and brand. By using push notification tactic, hospitals can inform consumers about special offers, news, and new healthcare changes.
Smartphone applications improve user engagement, enhance brand awareness, gives competitive edge, and much more.
4. User-Friendly Payments
Patients are benefited with contactless payment options and is easy for the hospitals and clinics to handle money flow. As per Laurie Hurwitz, executive director of revenue cycle at Gundersen Health System, patients are expecting similar type of convenience while paying healthcare bills as they do for other type of bills.
5. Easy to Schedule Hospital Appointments
Often, patients call hospital receptionist or visit OPD to book appointment or to know about doctor’s routine. However, with a healthcare mobile app, a user can track physician’s routine, book appointment accordingly, and set a reminder too.
This is an effective way to release burden of bookings for the patients, even in times of emergencies. For instance, Doctor on Demand, a hospital mobile application enables patients to find a physician in emergencies and book appointment as per their convenience.
6. Accurate Patient Diagnosis
Doctors can acquire real-time data on patient’s diagnosis and checkups, thus preventing fatalities for patients. Sensors placed in healthcare apps monitor and track health parameters such as heart rate, oxygen content, sleep time, etc. This information is useful for quality care and efficiency in hospital services.
7. Access to Medical Records
With a hospital app, patients needn’t rush to laboratories to acquire test reports, they can easily get it online and access it anywhere. For example, OLR is a medical app which provides lab reports online.
With the reduction in paperwork, hospital management are relieved of storage, report collection, and distribution.
8. IoT in Healthcare
IoT monitors health parameters and alerts the doctor if it increases beyond the threshold value. Also, IoT assures management of huge goods and organize them systematically. Real-time data collection, prevention of upcoming diseases, in-clinic management, and in-hospital services includes IoT devices.
Types of Hospital App Development
The exact health app that you should get developed and app features to include will depend on your unique requirements, here are general types of hospital apps that you can choose from.
1. Hospital Apps for Streamlining Operations
A general app for hospital works as a branding tool as well as an informative guide for the hospital. Users can get the information about the different departments and doctors from health apps. You can also choose to include reviews to help patients make informed decisions. Such apps work well for larger hospitals with a multitude of departments.
2. Physician Referral Apps for Hospital
A physician referral app functions as an all in one patient portal. From getting specialist referrals to finding their laboratory or histopathological reports, patients can accomplish everything from within the mobile app. Instead of the patient carrying all the paperwork across the hospital, the physician can simply get the information they need from the app itself.
3. Wayfinding Applications
Navigating the hospital premises can be a challenge for patients and caregivers especially if there are multiple buildings and departments. Wayfinding applications function as a map for the hospital and make navigating a hospital an interactive experience for the users.
Mobile Hospital App Development: The Complete Process
Here is the complete guide one must know about hospital app development.
1. Define Your Target
Who is the hospital app for? Who is your target audience? These questions will determine the potential users of application. As per statista.com, 4 percent of the US adults use a healthcare app for emergencies, while 10percent healthcare professionals use app for medical emergencies, and 8percent of the US adults use medical apps to track health metrics.
As per this data, there are various types of users, from healthcare providers to general public. Hence, one must know target audience beforehand.
2. Selecting a Platform
There are two major operating systems – Android and iOS – iOS continues to dominate the market, holding more than half of market share in May 2021. Analyzing preference of platform geographically can help hospitals to opt for suitable option.
Further, based on objective and features of hospital app choosing AR, VR, or IoMT integration, if a hospital wished to implement realistic scenarios and a great user experience, then virtual reality is a good option.
3. Design Scalable Architecture
A scalable architecture is designed to handle the capacity of growing workloads of the software and hardware. Further, a hospital app needs a central server for syncing data.
The approach would be to incorporate microservice architecture because it is developed to improve scalability. Each microservice has the capacity of running autonomously, thus making it easier to remove, add, delete, and scale each microservices.
One of the best examples of microservices is Netflix. This mobile app refactored its monolithic application in horizontal scale of microservice, which runs on Amazon AWS.
A prototype of an app is a version designed for product demonstration that replicates features and functions of the app. A prototype helps to determine functionality, feel, and look of the final mobile app. It will tell you how users might react while operating a hospital app.
Prototype aids to conclude the outcome of the application, user-friendliness, and efficiency of the app. Also, it will help to attract investors, identify app flaws, and improve iteration significantly.
5. Developing an MVP
A minimum viable product is a development methodology for generating core functions and features to solve problems. It’s the basic model of the app which fulfills the main aim to be achieved.
To develop an MVP for a hospital app, one needs to understand business needs, what the user wants, and core features or functions of the app. While building MVP do not incorporate many features or functions initially. This will leave the user confused and the app might look clumsy.
For instance, the initial versions of the Facebook app were different from what you see now. Several features such as pages, stories, and reels were added recently in the app and the application has evolved over a period of time.
6. Check for Compliance
All functions in the app must comply with the HIPAA guidelines and deal with PHI (Protected Health Information). Medical records contain private information of patients’ personal life and breach of this data results in legal and financial risks. One must pay penalties in case of privacy breach under HIPAA.
For instance, 6th December 2021, two healthcare workers were pleaded guilty in two cases for the criminal misuse of patient data while on duty.
Apart from this, consider two-factor authentication, biometric recognition, auto logout options, and data encryption for building safe hospital apps.
7. Testing of Hospital Apps
Perform QA analysis at every step during the MVP generation and when a new feature is added. Carry out code testing as this saves time while manual quality assurance checks. Further, tests should consist of integration and module checks, ensuring interconnectivity of modules. After the final test, run a full-fledged HIPAA audit.
8. App Deployment
Usually, there are two main categories of app deployment. First being, deploying API (Application Programming Interface) into the production. The second one is to deploy app in the Apple Play Store or Google Play Store.
Apps need back-end server for functioning smoothly. Server deployed to an environment which is scalable such as RackSpace or AWS, is better at handling traffic surges.
For releasing applications to Play Store, ensure that the hospital app is configured. Post this, submit forms for every store along with screenshots, marketing methods, and description. Apple checks all materials and can ask for changes, so that the app can comply with their regulations. Your hospital app developers should be able to handle all these for you.
Once app is approved, it will be live on Google Play the same day and in Apple Play Store after a few days.
Must Have Features in Hospital App Development
Hospital app development requires a well thought out strategy behind it. Your app needs to add value to the users. App development just for the sake of doing it may end up costing more without offering true value.
There are a number of success stories when it comes to hospital app development but there are equally high number of cases where app development ended up being a failed undertaking.
What distinguishes a stellar hospital app from its counterparts is the features that you include in it. While hospital app development has a number of benefits for both providers and patients, you need to make sure that the features you include when getting a mobile app developed for your hospital are what the users are actually looking for.
For the patients, here are the top features that they desire in a hospital app.
1. Medical Records
Electronic patient data and medical records form the basis of your hospital mobile app’s core functionality. Integration of EHRs and medical records once implemented within the app enables fast and efficient exchange of information between healthcare providers and patients.
Ability to access their own medical records is a must have feature that patient looks for in hospital app. However, the hospital app developers need to be mindful about safety restrictions and accessibility of information when incorporating this feature within the app so as to remain compliant with HIPAA norms.
2. Appointment Scheduling
Appointment scheduling, rescheduling and cancellation is another feature that patients look for which makes it a must-have feature in hospital app development.
The app that you have developed should offer the chance to see the appointment slots available and select the one that is feasible for them.
3. Prescription Refills
Prescription refills is another hospital app feature that can enable it to remain competitive in the mHealth market. A patient should be able to automatically get their prescriptions refilled through the app itself, without having to go through the hassle of making an in-person appointment for the same.
Chatbots have come a long way from their initial days when they used to be limited in terms of their conversational ability and capabilities.
AI powered chatbots have the potential to revolutionize your hospital workflow, making diagnoses faster and efficient and ensuring that the cases requiring immediate attention get triaged accordingly.
If your hospital does not have a dedicated telemedicine app, you can choose to integrate telemedicine within the app itself. Virtual appointments give the patients the chance to interact with their healthcare providers without having to commute to the hospital premises.
It also results in better workflow management as patients who do not require round the clock monitoring can be attended through telemedicine and remote patient monitoring.
Push notifications are a powerful feature to include when engaging in hospital app development. You can use it to your advantage by sending out reminders for upcoming appointments reducing the chances of patient no-shows.
In-app notifications can also be used to send out medication reminders to patients increasing medication adherence and improving overall outcomes.
A secure payment gateway is a feature that patients are looking for when using a hospital app. This reduces the time spent in billing and allows them to bypass the conventional long queues by processing payments easily and quickly.
Challenges of Hospital App Development
Hospital mobile app development or healthcare app development companies are constantly on the verge to deliver solutions for better health monitoring, early disease warnings, health treatment, and medical care. The need to continuously provide better hospital mobile app creates challenges during the app development process.
One of the significant challenges for app developers is choosing cloud technology, because when it comes to cloud storage, ePHI (Protected Health Information) cannot be safeguarded completely.
Further, healthcare industry is constantly engulfed in new trends. Medical professionals and patients try to adopt substantial changes in a variety of medical apps, healthcare devices, and medical services. Managing market volatility and trends becomes a challenge for doctors and patients who aren’t well-versed with new technologies.
Moving on, with more advanced medical technologies in the market, patient data security is a major issue, as healthcare organizations tend to fall prey to cyberattacks.
According to a research by Fortified Health Security, more than 500 healthcare organizations reported 500+ breaches to the HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) Office in 2020.
Additionally, interoperability and integration with existing hospital systems is another challenge faced during hospital mobile app development.
For instance, hospital departments may have to exchange data with each other during emergencies or to an electric medical records system, which can then be checked by patients and doctors, thereby ensuring better patient health.
Cost of Hospital Mobile App Development
Pricing of a hospital mobile application depends on aspects such as features, platforms, integrations, development team, and much more. As per a survey of 2,400 healthcare applications, the average expense of a hospital app development is around $150,000, but here’s a detailed guide to the cost of medical app development that you can refer to.
A hospital mobile app can prove to be useful for patients with severe health conditions and save time on hospital visits. They are great for both healthcare professionals and patients for tracking recovery, consultations, and accessing patients’ data. Additionally, technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data in medical apps are useful in saving precious lives.