A study carried out by the GMC demonstrated that in 2011 30 % of doctors used a mobile app (Visse, BJ, and Bouman, J. 2012). Today the number is staggering 83%.
Research2Guidance report indicates that the market for mobile health app services will reach $26 billion by 2017
Top mHealth publishers are responsible for more than 3 million free and 300,000 paid downloads in the US on App Store. More than 97,000 such apps are listed in various app markets.
Most of these are health and fitness apps, which enable the tracking of health parameters by users and provide users with interesting insight about their fitness level.
This is certainly the best time to develop a mobile health app.
App development initiates with a rich understanding of what you want the medical app to do, for whom, and the setting it will be operating in.
As a developer, you must establish flawless and unmistakable requirements early into the project, or even in stages subject to development practice.
Here are the 9 things you must consider while developing an healthcare mobile app.
1. Target hardware
You would be targeting generally more than one platform as an app developer, which may be a desktop in addition to tablets and smartphone.
The way smartphone users interact with an app is different from the way they interact with apps on their tablets. smartphone users prefer the speed of information to length.
Enterprise healthcare mobility solutions are more likely to be used on a tablet. apps optimized for a tablet can accommodate more functionality than their smartphone counterpart can.
A patient engagement solution app is more likely to be optimized for tablets while a ‘call a doctor’ app is more likely to be optimized for smartphone.
However, most apps developed for a smartphone will work on tablet seamlessly and vice a verse. iPhone apps will work on iPads unless they are formed/control based apps.
One of the most important factors to consider while developing healthcare mobility solutions is their interoperability with the existing clinical management system used by hospital staff.
If you would have seen the staff, doctors, nurses, front desk, ward boys, etc., all carrying a tablet with them all the time, you know what I mean to say here.
Nowadays,enterprise healthcare mobility solutions including medical scheduling software are based out of a cloud to facilitate interoperability.
However, in developing the world, hospitals still tend to rely on traditional hosting, even standalone software installation to evade the hefty cost of cloud hosting.
In such cases, you may have to build an app compatibility layer over the existing setup.
3. UI/UX considerations
UI/UX plays a major role when it comes to healthcare app development. It’s because in the healthcare app both patients and the doctors enter data frequently.
As a developer you must ensure that the app’s design is easy to use since, patients have to fill their medical records and appointments on a regular interval.
Similarly, the doctors have to record their visits and has to update each patient’s history.
Usually, the patients using a healthcare apps are vulnerable as they are seeking remedies to their medical issues.
Considering their state of mind, you must ensure that your UI/UX including fonts, colors, and text doesn’t illustrate any negative picture.
It must be supportive so that the users feel joyous and positive when they use the application.
4. API components
Application programming interface (API) as the name suggests is a process, tool, or routine that executes a specific task or interaction with the software or a module of the software.
Social network apps and advertisers rely on APIs to pass on the information in a continuous way.
When you login into an app, the authentication is supported by an API request to connect your device to a remote server.
In the case of patient engagement solutions, you may have to add API components to authenticate your device to access the central patients’ repository.
Moreover, you may need additional APIs from suppliers and vendors. Keep in mind, not every API is open to third parties.
5. Develop Iteratively
It’s quite a common fact that iterations have developed the world’s best software and applications.
You must consider to follow the Agile program which helps the developers to deliver working codes in an iterative fashion.
By iterative fashion I mean to build an app by making slow progressions, for example by adding the features one by one. Before developing an app, you must learn and practice more about the agile development.
6. Data security
App developers, these days, avoid storing app data in the device for security reasons.
If the clinical management system your app connects to limits the number of simultaneous API requests, you may have to store the data on an app server.
App servers are built for speed, not security and thus, are not difficult to breach into. developers must encrypt data they save on their servers.
Moreover, the transfer of data between the device and the secure remote server is open to communication interception by government agencies, and fraudulent organizations and individuals.
Thus, if security is paramount as in the case of healthcare apps, developers must insist on end-2-end encryption or send data over secure communication channels only.
7. Minimum viable product (MVP)
As the name suggests minimum viable product is the most basic product that works in a production setting.
However, you must be extra cautious not to put all your capital in the MVP itself as there’s a long way to go as far as healthcare app development is concerned.
MVP helps you in a great deal in getting customer’s feedback. You shouldn’t be complacent at any stage of the application development.
Moreover, you must take those feedback seriously and try to incorporate those in your application to increase the chances of its success.
8. Device security
Arxan, a data security company suggests Android apps are lesser secure than iOS apps are.
In fact, in apps where security matter more than anything else, many cybersecurity advocates are against the idea of developing an app for Android, at all.
Android constitute more than 80% of smartphone market today.This is not happening.
Smartphone manufacturers are stepping in to fill the security holes left by Android with their own homegrown solutions.
Samsung knox is one such example that allows seclusion of work activities from personal activities. this is a great step ahead considering most organizations these days have bring your own device (BYOD) policy in place.
Blackberry is also trying hard to bring the same level of security its devices were once famous for.
Moreover, our developers suggest there are certain lines of code you can add to make your apps safer.
However, not much gonna change until Google steps in and sort the security issue on its famous mobile OS, once for all.
9. Testing healthcare applications
Testing of any mobile app is imperative. However, when it comes to Healthcare mobility solution releasing the app without proper testing of functionality could have fatal repercussions.
The risks increase as healthcare applications have confidential medical data of patients.
Moreover, either you use manual or automatic testing it’s important that you test the healthcare apps in following ways.
- You must test the security and various authenticities like PII, PHII, and HIPAA compliance.
- In case, if there is a Fitness tracking app which requires a geo-location services then you need to carefully check the accuracy and preciseness of all those services.
- To create the real-world scenario, test the application with poor connectivity.
- Test your app’s performance by setting high load and performance benchmarks.
- Check your app’s compatibility by testing it in different platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows, and other browsers.
Nothing else matters
At the end of the day, the driving need, the usability, and user-friendliness will decide the fate of your app.
In this throwaway society, principally with respect to apps, where frequently the usage of an app may well be over a few weeks, the true value of a healthcare app will be established in the period of use.