Healthcare apps have been around for a while now. Healthcare mobile app development companies come up with innovative ideas to simplify healthcare and hundreds of new apps appear in Android Play Stores and Apple App Stores. The ongoing COVID -19 pandemic has further kindled the interest of app development companies, entrepreneurs and medical practices into healthcare apps. They are taking a fresh look at the role of technology in the wellbeing of the human species. In this article we will have a closer look at the healthcare app development arena and try to identify the challenges to the industry and figure out solutions.
Healthcare apps: The story so far
To understand the world of healthcare app development services, let’s look at these statistics:
The healthcare app market in the world is going through a phase of robust growth and is expected to reach $111 billion by 2025.
Pew Research suggests more than 81% adults in America have access to smartphones. In the same research, it was found that smartphone ownership in teens is 95% and 45% of young adults stay online for most of the day. It simply means that developing a mobile healthcare app has great business prospective.
At present, there are more than 300,000 different types of healthcare apps available in mobile stores. This staggering figure is a result of the robust growth of the healthcare market. This growth hinges largely on the increasing number of smartphone users.
At least 60% of smartphone users in America have downloaded one or the other healthcare app during the last one year. The two major categories of apps are wellness and medical. While the former is related to general wellbeing, the latter includes apps that manage proper medical treatment.
Another Pew study conducted in 2015 found that accessing health-related information is the number one smartphone activity in the US with more than 62% of users doing so. Banking and job searches fare at a distant second and third place with 57% and 42% respectively.
Over 90% of physicians in the US already use smartphones to access healthcare records, and manage their schedules. Over the years smartphones have emerged as a potent tool for healthcare workers, enabling them to manage patient care in a better way. Most of the healthcare workers agree that smartphones help them to free up more time for patient care.
Two out of every three healthcare practices in the US leverage mobile healthcare apps to streamline their operations. These figures sound pretty impressive on paper, in reality, healthcare practices and hospitals grapple with a lot of problems while using these apps. The major challenges include poor user experience, lack of proper functionality, and inability of apps to comply with regulatory guidelines.
Mobile Healthcare Apps: Major Challenges
Most of the healthcare apps that fail have these attributes in common:
- Poor understanding of the healthcare industry
- Development without proper planning of concept
- Poor user interface
- Mediocre content management
- Inability to comply with healthcare regulations
To overcome all these challenges, service providers have to follow a structured approach. Let’s find out what this approach is and how it can help you make apps that add value to the life of your target audience.
Identify a Problem in Healthcare
With hundreds of thousands of mobile healthcare apps already thronging the play stores, it’s difficult to find a real unique idea. This is simply because most of these apps are simply copies of one another, adding little value to the experience of the end-user. It indicates the lack of research on part of the concept developers.
The key to developing a successful iOs app or Android app is understanding the requirements of your target audience.
Conduct an exhaustive study on the day to day functioning of healthcare practices. Clearly define the issues faced by physicians, nurses and patients. Once you do this, you are able to come up with a solution that adds value to the life of your target audience in the real sense of the word.
Once you have clearly defined the problem, the next step should be to work on a simple concept to address the issue. This approach not only gives you a good head start but also enables you to work on the complexities in a scalable manner. For the best mobile app development company to succeed, they need to decide whether to go for iOS app development service or Android mobile app development services.
Studies suggest that the number of people with hypertension in the US is increasing at a tremendous pace. You can take the statistics as a starting point for healthcare app development. Conduct further research on how people with this deadly disease are managing the symptoms. This study will give you further insights such as the exact number of patients, their demographics, average age of the patient, and so and so forth. Make an easily accessible database, run it through analytics, note down conclusions and identify the real issues. Once you have done it all, you are in a good space to add value to the life of your target audience.
Know your target audience for a Healthcare App
When healthcare practices and hospitals offer apps to patients indiscriminately, they find few takers for them. It happens due to lack of understanding of the patient’s needs. One big learning that one can derive from this fact is that it’s a cardinal sin to work on a mobile healthcare app without proper understanding of your target audience.
Conducting detailed patient surveys is the only way to develop mobile healthcare apps that sell. These surveys enable you to understand the needs of patients, their preferences and their lifestyles. Once the survey is done, sit with your team and brainstorm on what exactly you should offer to address the needs of the target audience. It’s a good idea to work on the concepts that are in sync with customer/target audience needs.
Before kick starting your mobile healthcare app development project, it’s a good idea to analyze the market environment. In addition, your app should also meet the regulatory guidelines of the country where you want to launch your app. When you keep all these factors in your mind while building a healthcare app, you are able to come up with a well-rounded product that adds value to the life of your target audience.
Give Due Importance to the Design of Your App
The success of your mobile healthcare app hinges on the design aspect, hence it makes sense to give due importance to this critical factor. App development companies that only focus on the value addition part usually end up creating something that is potent but fails to sell. This is simply because of ignoring the design part.
Color schemes, navigation, UI/UX and style, everything falls under the purview of design. Keeping your target audience in mind is the key to create a perfect design. For example if your target audience is in the age group of 50 years and beyond, it’s a good idea to keep the font size big. The same goes with the color schemes as well. For a younger audience, you should choose bright and enticing colors.
Another import aspect that adds value to your mobile healthcare app is gamification. Do incorporate attributes such as quizzes, games and other information-centric elements to your app to make the medical terms easy to comprehend. Industry jargon, technical terms and metrics should be well explained in the FAQ section of the app. By doing so you will bring down the cost of mobile healthcare app development.
Launch the First Version and Get Feedback
Building an app is a time consuming and intricate process, hence it doesn’t make sense to aim for the perfect version in the very first go. As time to market is a critical factor in the app development world, make sure you launch the very first version of your app at the earliest. Instead of reinventing the wheel, use the pre-existing resources and come up with a working model. Proceed with the development process in a scalable manner.
Once you launch the first version, keep it free and solicit extensive feedback from the end users. This feedback will help you add value to your app. Running beta tests, distribution tests, and incorporating user comments is a great way of enhancing the usability of your mobile healthcare app. Brainstorm the ideas given in the user reviews and make a version upgradation strategy. Time the updates according to the mood of the market and there would be nothing stopping you from making a valuable mobile healthcare app.
Distribute Your Mobile Healthcare App Widely
A well carved out distribution strategy is a must for any healthcare mobile app development company. If your app’s target audience includes hospitals and private medical practices, it’s a good idea to make it downloadable from a generated link. While doing so, make sure that you adhere to all the data security and regulatory guidelines.
If a number of users are going to open your mobile healthcare app within an organization, creating a private enterprise app store can maximize your distribution. It also allows you to garner more positive reviews from the end users. Another significant benefit of creating an enterprise app store is that it serves as an analytics center for your app development project.
Follow Data Security Regulations
Countries and regions have their own data security and confidentiality regulations that you have to keep in mind while developing your mobile healthcare app. If you fail to adhere to these regulations, you might have to face legal action. So it makes business sense to have a good understanding of the data security laws of the regions where you are going to launch your app.
Medical Data Protection Norms in the US
All medical data in the US is controlled by The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The basic idea of HIPAA is that an individual who is a subject of individually identifiable health information should have:
Established procedures for the exercise of individual health information privacy rights. The use and disclosure of individual health information should be authorized or required.
One difficulty with HIPAA is that there must be a mechanism to authenticate the patient who demands access to his/her data. Therefore, if your target audience is in the US, you have to workaround these intricate regulations to stay out of any legal trouble.
Similarly, you have to adhere to the data security norms of any other country where you are launching your mobile healthcare app.
Choose the right service provider
The success of your healthcare app also hinges on a critical point – who is developing it. Does the mobile app development agency have enough experience in the field? What kind of infrastructure do they have? Do they provide intuitive mobile app features? Does the vendor give you direct access to the app developers? Do consider all these factors before sharing your dream project with the service provider. If the answer to all these questions is a yes, then you have laid your hands on the right service provider.