Smartphone digital products have become very popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients pay more attention to their physical and mental health, and doctors master new technologies for online appointments without visiting medical institutions. Statista predicts that the global mobile health market will be about $500 billion by 2025. The growing demand for mobile app development services is inevitable considering these numbers. Therefore, we will analyze the essential topics for founders of startups and companies to create healthcare IT products.
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Directions for developing digital healthcare products in 2022
Apps are becoming resources for communications between doctors and patients. The video call function helps to check out the patient’s condition and draw up a treatment plan. A physical visit to the clinic is not required for milder forms of diseases. According to McKinsey, In April 2020, overall telemedicine use for office visits and outpatient care was 78 times higher than in early 2020.
The Internet of Things in Healthcare
The integration of mobile apps with wearable devices has become vital to track the health of users and patients. The IoT helps doctors check signals like body temperature, glucose level, heart rate, and blood pressure. Mordor Intelligence predicts that IoT in the healthcare market will reach $89.6 billion by 2026, up from $46.44 billion in 2020.
Augmented Reality (XR) Technologies
VR/AR tools can help you save operational costs and staff time. They provide advanced data analysis and educational materials to scale medical practice worldwide. According to Statista, training simulations will become the main application of immersive technologies in healthcare during 2021-2022.
Mobile payments and blockchain
Blockchain technologies ensure GDPR and HIPAA compliance. In-app data protection improves, and online financial transactions are fast and reliable. Queues at hospitals to pay medical bills are no longer a problem and a possibility for viruses to spread. Market Watch predicts that the size of the global healthcare blockchain market will reach $3,126.8 million by 2027, up from $354.9 million in 2020.
AI in healthcare
Analysis of large volumes of patient data and information consolidation is possible with AI technologies. Chatbots are in touch at any time and are ready to answer questions regarding hospital work, doctors’ schedules, and the health sector. According to the MarketsandMarkets report, artificial intelligence in the healthcare market will be $67.4 billion by 2027.
3 types of applications in medicine
Digital products in healthcare can be divided into 3 types depending on the subject of use.
Professional IT products for the medical field
Mobile applications are designed for doctors, nurses, interns, and other healthcare professionals. They contain an expanded set of capabilities that allow for remote health monitoring and other activities.
- Medical reference books and resources. It is a base of thematic information. It provides checking the connection between symptoms and diagnosis, learning terms, finding information about medicines, and selecting reliable suppliers.
- Social media for healthcare providers. A way to communicate and share experiences with your colleagues. Such applications provide new acquaintances and practical information. For example, Daily Rounds or Sermo.
- Remote assistants. Applications analyze the information received from medical devices. Doctors see patient indicators like glucose levels, heart rate, blood pressure, and so on. Prescription supplements help in making correct prescriptions based on patient data and contraindications for certain medications.
- Workflow organizers. Medical record apps allow you to collect and store patient information in one place. Digital payment products are essential for billing, accounting, and transaction processing.
- The way how not to forget. Mobile applications can generate reminders for future visits to the doctor, medications, and home medkit replenishment.
- The help of a therapist. Digital mental health products include breathing exercises or playlists with soothing music. They help to cope with depression and sleep disturbances.
- Sugar control. Apps for people with diabetes integrate with wearable devices, display glucose levels, remind you to follow a diet, and provide lists of nutritional recommendations.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Fitness apps track exercise levels, nutrition, and key metrics.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, new ways of interaction between doctors and patients have emerged. For example, mobile applications are created for audio and video consultations. Virtual techniques allow doctors to analyze mild forms of various diseases and prescribe the necessary drugs remotely.
9 basic healthcare mobile app features
Login / registration
After downloading the application to a smartphone, the user creates a personal account and enters personal data. These include standard information: name, age, phone number, and email. Health information may be necessary too: chronic illness, weight, height, social security number, and more.
The number of steps for registration should not exceed 3-5 points because the first user experience is based on the speed and ease of using the application. The fastest option is automatic access via social networks (Facebook, Twitter) or Google account.
It is necessary to implement an electronic calendar in the application. It will help the doctor to keep track of the time and number of patients every day. Patients can also access the specialist’s schedule to track their occupancy and make appointments. Information on reservation dates and times will be sent to the administrator and automatically generated in a message to the user.
Video and audio consulting
Remote medical care is one of the most popular novelties and telemedicine components. Communicating with a doctor helps to discuss symptoms, treatments, and chronic diseases. For example, in the United States, more than 61% of respondents reported that they had already used telemedicine services by March 2021. A mobile application with the appropriate permissions to access the microphone and camera of the phone can provide a quick connection between the doctor and the patient.
Monitoring user status
The app can collect user data such as heart rate, calories, and glucose levels. Typically, it integrates with fitness trackers to provide accurate health information.
A virtual assistant is a must-have for every application. With it, the user can solve standard problems, and if questions arise, ask the chatbot to connect to a real consultant.
The application can have the function of reminding you of taking medications or making an appointment with a doctor. Electronic prescriptions should be implemented too. Push notifications allow you to adhere to your treatment plan and not miss critical appointments.
Users can pay for doctor’s services and medications using their smartphones. The application will take a percentage of the payment, but the rest will go to the specialist. The patient enters the card details or moves to the payment page. The developers’ task is to add mobile tools like PayPal.
The mobile product acts as a place for storing medical information. Patient files and doctor records remain in the central system under reliable protection. Users can receive X-rays, reports, and laboratory results. Doctors can analyze information remotely and generate a treatment plan.
Ratings and reviews
Digital healthcare products use this feature to build a roster of top talent. Users select a doctor based on feedback from past or regular clients. For medical professionals, it is a good chance to increase the cost and quality of services and become in-demand.
9 Steps of healthcare mobile application development
Define and analyze the idea of a future IT product
According to Statista, more than 53 thousand medical applications (excluding the health and fitness category) were available on Google Play in the first quarter of 2021. How will you stand out from the crowd of digital products in this segment? Find the best aspects of the application in practical use. Analyze the project according to five criteria:
- Benefit. Identify weaknesses in the health sector. List the most common problems that medical staff and patients face daily. Does the application solve one of them?
- Uniqueness. Follow the comparison principles. Take 5-10 similar applications and analyze the interface, functions, and other elements.
- Competitiveness. Estimate the chances of success among existing medical applications in one category. Look at the competitors’ databases and identify their mistakes.
- Customer focus. Analyze the target audience of the future digital product. Divide users by gender, income, age, and location.
- Relevance. Follow the key trends in the technology and medical segment. Add AR/VR technology or the latest AI advancements.
Most applications replicate each other, devaluing their user experience. Focus on ideas and goals, not development technologies or approaches. The digital product must help users to become in-demand in the healthcare market.
Select the OS for the IT product
The main task is to determine the percentage of the target audience that prefers iOS or Android. Worldwide figures for the third quarter of 2021 are 27.6 billion downloaded apps from Google Play and about 8.1 billion from the Apple App Store. These numbers are pushing for Android, but the popularity of the iPhone should be considered as well.
One platform can narrow your user base, so choose both. The least costly, both time and finance, is a multi-platform approach to creating an IT product. It implies basic functions and is needed when building an MVP.
Compare budget, timeline, and technology complexity
Healthcare mobile app development from the server-side to the user interface takes a lot of time and resources. Building a digital product from scratch with a full set of features is not always rational. Releasing a mini-app like an MVP is the best for a startup.
MVP is suitable for limited funding, untested ideas, and strict deadlines. It has a set of must-have features, and the rest can be added later, depending on user feedback. The basic versions were used by such digital giants as Instagram, Uber, or Facebook. They started at the lowest level and hit the highest score on popularity.
By launching an MVP, you can analyze bugs, user reviews, and competitor reactions. Having overcome the “false start”, the IT team will be ready for new challenges and improvements in the mobile healthcare application.
Creating an MVP helps to attract investment. Telemedicine has become one of the most funded areas of digital health with over $4.2 billion. Mobile apps are in third place, receiving about $1.4 billion.
Determine the Design of a Healthcare Application
Healthcare digital products may be related to various age categories and purposes. For example, apps for healthcare professionals should be designed with natural colors and interactive features such as quizzes or polls.
When designing a mobile healthcare product, keep in mind five UI/UX design rules:
- Home page: the source of basic data, displaying weight, calories, or steps.
- Responsive design, suitable for screens of different sizes and platforms iOS and Android.
- Optimizing the user’s path to performing the most frequent action with one tap on the icon.
- Friendly interface: show empathy for the problems of users since the application may be targeted at people with disabilities or chronic diseases.
- Considering the age of users: the older generation prefers larger fonts and simple transitions to sections. Young people like creative visualization and abstract shapes.
Make the design as convenient as possible. For example, with simple layouts and a calm color scheme. Walk the user’s path on your own. Determine the ease of navigating in your medical application.
Design and build the first version of a digital product
You can build your application using existing solutions such as APIs and third-party portals. You can depict a prototype of a future application on a sheet of paper or in a standard graphics editor. Choose any tool to create the image of your digital product.
A development partner will help you convey the desired interface elements when you prototype your application. Such tools as Figma Webflow or Mockplus provide a quick visual representation of the future IT product. Focus on the standard features that the application should have. For example, registration, personal account, and interface of basic user services.
Track testing and bug fixes
Performing manual and automated tests will validate the underlying functionality mechanisms. Software testers perform step-by-step actions with a mobile product:
- Device selection. The application is tested on the most popular gadgets among the target audience. It also selects the oldest and newest supported operating systems.
- Following the guidelines. The Android and iOS manual describes the components of the interface, their sizes, position on the screen, and other features. The app must follow these requirements.
- Permitted actions. Testers find out when a software product requests any permissions. Then, IT professionals check actions by giving corresponding permissions or rejecting them.
- Response to HTTP requests. Investigation of the application with different response codes, timeouts, and other changes.
- Update results. The developer changes the database on the device. The task of the tester is to update the app and test the affected functionality.
- Device functions. Testing the behavior of the application in particular situations, such as disconnecting the Internet, changing the date and time.
An IT product must pass all of the tests invented by testers and be healthcare secure.
Check your app for compliance with international data privacy requirements
Medical data is subject to controls and security measures. Problem areas should be identified and checked during testing. Data encryption will help prevent information leakage into the databases of cybercriminals. Moreover, your healthcare app must have two-factor authentication and strict access control.
US and European legislation includes documents that regulate the privacy of data in digital products. The main regulations include HIPAA, NIST, GDPR, HiTECH, and PIPEDA.
Choose Your Profit Strategy
The number of free applications in the Google Play Store and Apple Store constantly exceeds the number of paid ones. So, in August 2021, about 97% of applications on Google Play were available for free. Monetization of software products in the healthcare sector can be provided as follows:
- Advertisements. The application contains advertisements for medical device manufacturers or private clinics.
- Subscription. The use of the application or some of its parts requires a subscription for a week/month/year.
- Additional in-app purchases. The IT product is free, but some features are chargeable.
- Sale of drugs and medical equipment. Purchase offers are posted in the app.
Plan your in-app revenue streams in advance to seamlessly add the features you need. Your mobile platform investment can pay off if you choose a suitable monetization model. Think long-term for a digital healthcare product.
Provide technical service and support 24/7
The launch of the application requires constant maintenance and support at all deployment stages. Users should receive assistance in any problems, e.g., when the mobile product is “unresponsive”. Customers who contact technical support can offer new ideas for development and highlight mistakes.
Healthcare mobile app development companies often offer long-term partnerships for the maintenance of a digital product. Turning to reliable and experienced organizations, you entrust the full cycle of product development to IT pros. As part of the support, specialists ensure the smooth operation of the application, fix bugs, launch releases, and collect user feedback. The company also checks the operational status of servers, backs up, and updates applications on the platforms.
The cost of healthcare mobile app development
When choosing an outsourcing IT company, the partner’s location affects the project’s price most of all. For instance, the development costs about $130-150 per hour in the United States and about $30-50 in India. The cost of the work of IT specialists will depend on several factors:
- The number of specialists: testers, programmers, and project managers.
- Developer qualifications: Junior, Middle, Senior.
- Geolocation of the company: India, USA, Ukraine, and other countries.
- Product creation approach: native or cross-platform.
- Operating system: Android, iOS, or both.
- Project timeline: ASAP or fixed dates.
- The complexity of design: settings, branding, and animation.
Before ordering IT product development, create an MVP to determine the exact development vectors. Applications with complex functionality will cost more than the basic version with standard features.
Building a Mobile Healthcare Product: A challenge for 2022
Mobile apps improve data collection, reduce operating costs, control payments, and minimize errors. Patients receive remote assistance, track medication intakes, and visit doctors at any time. Healthcare mobile app development and launching to the market improve communications between the subjects of healthcare services. Our company can help you create an innovative application that will become your best assistant.