Native vs. Web Apps in Healthcare: Which is a Better Choice?

Key Takeaways

  • From a security perspective, native apps are preferable as they can easily access the built-in security features of a device, unlike web apps.
  • Customization is a key advantage for web apps in healthcare, and 86 percent of US marketers agree that personalized apps bolster revenue.
  • Flexibility of web apps to work on multiple platforms sets them apart from native apps, however offline mode of native apps can be a boon for patients living in remote areas with a low network connection.

Google Play Store is filled with thousands of healthcare applications, owing to the growth of the mobile health market which is estimated to surpass $300 billion by 2025. People are constantly on the lookout for the best app out of the rest. Hence, for mobile app developers, knowing which type of healthcare app is convenient for users is essential. In this case, we’ll be discussing major differences in native vs. web apps in healthcare for better app development choices.

Native vs. Web App in Healthcare: An Overview

Native apps are mobile applications that are programmed and developed for a certain OS (Operating System): Android or iOS. Native iOS applications are coded in Objective-C or Swift, whereas native android apps are developed in Java or Kotlin.

Further, native apps are installed via an app store such as Apple App Store or Google Play. They are created for one platform and can take advantage of the device’s features such as camera, location, images, contact list, etc. Native apps can be operated via gestures; some work offline too. Examples of native apps are SoundCloud, Spotify, and Pinterest.

On the other hand, web applications can be accessed via a browser. They are developed using JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. Unlike a website, a web application is cloud-hosted, has cross-platform functionality, and is scalable. Websites are limited to use via search engines such as Google.

Further, the additional interactivity and functionality of a web app set it apart from a website. Examples of web applications include Trello, Netflix, Google Docs, Microsoft Office, and Basecamp.

Benefits of Using Native Apps in Healthcare

1. Security

Security is the most important aspect of healthcare applications. Safety and privacy of ePHI (Protected Healthcare Information) prevent misuse of vital patient data by cybercriminals.

Every healthcare software in a healthcare facility must be well-guarded, to avoid data breaches. Stringent rules and regulations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) are applied to healthcare apps for data safety.

HIPAA ensures the security and privacy of vital medical records through three safeguard rules: technical, administrative, and physical safeguards. Measures undertaken under these rules for protecting native web apps are two-factor authentication, app testing, updates, firewalls, secure socket technology, etc. Native apps are considered more secure than web or hybrid apps as they’ve access to platform-specific built-in security features.

2. Fewer Bugs During Development

The chances of encountering bugs during native app development are much lesser as compared to the web application. This is so because native app developers don’t rely on cross-platform tools such as Cordova or Xamarin.

Facing bug issues is only possible if new or multiple versions of iOS or Android are released. Further, mobile app developers have access to new SDKs, so they can start creating apps with the most recent features available. This aspect makes it possible for users to have access to new features the moment it is uploaded to the operating system.

3. Better User Experience

Native apps are capable of accessing the device’s features such as a microphone, GPS, etc., this means faster functionality of the app, and this in turn enhances user experience as well. Healthcare apps with features such as video consultations, online calls, or location, can easily make use of in-built device systems (like GPS or calling system) and execute app features.

Additionally, native apps offer push notifications which are advantageous for healthcare apps. Push notifications help doctors to improve communication with patients through reminders, feedback, broadcasts, appointments, etc., thereby ameliorating user experience. Native apps can automatically adjust their screen resolution and size as per the device, thus making them more compatible with any device.

The ability of native apps to work offline significantly improves user experience This aspect is beneficial for people using healthcare apps in remote locations where network accessibility is poor. When offline, native apps run on the device instead of on a web page, and the only time a native app needs an internet connection is if data needs to be sent or received.

Benefits of Using Web Apps in Healthcare

1. Customization

Approximately 86 percent of US marketers reported that customization or personalization of apps increases revenue. Healthcare web apps can be customized per clients’ needs and demands. Customized web apps are more scalable as compared to those which aren’t. A customized web app is bound to attract numerous users, hence application must be scalable.

A scalable app offers a disruptive user experience without compromising performance. Further, the integration of customized APIs in healthcare apps helps to develop them at a faster rate. APIs are great at ensuring the security of data and provide multi-level protection with HIPAA compliance.

Customized APIs are a boon for hospitals or practitioners who are aiming to offer real-time medical records to patients. Customization eliminates the need to rely on third-party vendors to keep the business running. Custom web apps are updated to the latest versions automatically and clients can connect with developers in case of an issue.

2. Support Any Platform

Web apps work independently on any platform (React.js, ASP.NET, AngularJS, etc.) and allow users to access the program from any device without worrying about platform compatibility.

The ability to use web apps on any platform ensures wider consumer reach and a chance to expand healthcare services. There’s no compulsion of using a specific device for web applications, hence patients can access healthcare apps via any existing device.

Further, web apps appear the same whether accessed from an Android or Apple device. Developing a multi-platform web app is cheaper as compared to creating individual apps for every platform, and cloud hosting reduce costs even further.

Native Vs. Web App in Healthcare: Which One to Use?

Before deciding on which one to choose for building a healthcare app, consider revising the above-listed points. A web app doesn’t work offline, whereas a native app does, hence for patients living in low-network areas using a web app can be an issue.

Further, native apps don’t have the flexibility of operating on multiple platforms, unlike web apps. Hence, developers need to code for one platform at a time, with separate coding for iOS and Android devices.

Since every platform Android and iOS needs a different set of codes, the time required to develop a native app is much more than a web app. A lengthy developing process means an expensive development process. However, native apps are preferable for enhanced user experience, as the features and functionalities of native apps blend well with the device.

So, which one to pick? Native or web app? The choice may vary as per your goals, which patients you’re targeting, and what is your budget. Arkenea, a healthcare software development company, can help you to decide all these aspects. Also, help you to create a world-class healthcare app that fits all your requirements. Just get in touch with us to know more.