For the past few years, healthcare mobile app development has accelerated at an unprecedented speed. Clear as a bell that mHealth apps are starting to shape its industry with a great number of various products presented on the market.
Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the full tilt progress of mobile technologies, and the constant security enhancements, medical apps are giving a solid base for groundbreaking solutions we could not possibly imagine some years ago.
Not only vast opportunities but also numbers tell us that the peak growth is yet to come. According to some researches, CARG (Compound Annual Growth Rate) for 2019 to 2025 for the global mobile health apps market is 38.26%. A figure to think about.
mHealth apps market forecast in the United States from 2018 to 2025, by type
In this article, we’ll cover the most significant aspects relating to health mobile app development. Hopefully, it will help you expand opportunities, spot unobvious nuances, and get inspired.
The key topics to be explored include:
- The difference between health and medical apps
- Types of mobile healthcare apps
- Key considerations of mHealth app development
- The cost of medical mobile app development
The Difference Between a Health App and a Medical App
They might sound quite similar and even confusing, but there’s a difference between health and medical applications. So if you’re considering developing a mobile app for the healthcare sector, then you should know the distinctions between these two categories of apps. Here they are.
- Target healthcare professionals or patients with a specified diagnosis
- Usually, focus on diagnosis based on analytical data
- Comply to medical evidence
- Adhere to industry regulations
- Are typically more expensive to develop
- Address general public
- Deal with any health aspects that don’t entail medical evidence
- Focus on medical information to boost healthy conditions
- Are less dependent on regulations
- Generally, cost less to implement
As you see, both types of apps help improve the health state or solve any related issues. Yet, the software development requirements will vary in each particular case.
Types of Healthcare Mobile Apps
There are various types of mobile healthcare applications. For example, they can be divided by their functionality. Some of them aim to elevate health monitoring, others help streamline operational efficiency, and some elevate medical researches and drive medicine to a whole new level.
However, from the user’s perspective, all apps are classified into two types: for patients or non-professional users and for healthcare organizations.
With the rise of healthcare awareness and shifted preferences in the consumerization of healthcare, more and more patients turn to mobile apps. People want to track not only fitness activities or their diets but also have better control over the core health metrics.
Being part of our daily lives, mobile devices and applications help patients monitor their health, arrange remote consultations with doctors, detect and prevent some diseases, and get assistance with medications.
Hospitals and other healthcare providers that leverage mobile app development can significantly improve their administrative operations and deliver better treatment outcomes.
The use cases majorly include practice management, care coordination, staff tracking, equipment management, appointment scheduling, and medical insurance verification. The list can go on.
Generally, mHealth apps designed for medical practices incorporate various integrations and combine technologies like IoT, AI and Machine Learning, or even blockchain.
Top 6 Considerations to Focus on When Developing an mHealth App
Designing a product and finding a proper solution for a particular issue can be a complex process. In order to create an impeccable app that satisfies all interested parties, it is wise to mind some considerations and focus on the crucial points.
Here are the key healthcare mobile app development tips to walk through with us.
1. Digital Strategy
Even if this point might seem less connected to the development process of a health app, digital strategy is the number one step to think about. You should thoroughly analyze the market and your competitors, set clear goals, and identify the needs your potential solution will address.
Most probably, you already know what type of app you’re going to deliver and who the target audience is. Whether it’s an application for patients or medical providers, you need to build a mobile app growth strategy. How will your solution be distributed and monetized? What size of the user base you’d like to reach?
Another moment to focus on is choosing the OS platform. Android remains the position of a leading mobile operating system, but that certainly shouldn’t make you neglect iOS users. If you have a limited budget, then you can first launch an app for one platform and then create it for another.
Remember that there’s always an option to start your medical app development as an MVP project, try and test how it aligns with user needs, and what adjustments should be implemented. After, you can move to deliver a full-fledged product.
2. Interoperability and Compatibility
When working on mHealth apps, interoperability is one of the most significant considerations. It refers to the ability of the applications, devices, and systems to successfully connect and coordinate with each other.
Hospital staff may use a great variety of software and equipment: Practice Management Systems and EHR solutions, dermatological sensors, scheduling applications, etc. Thus, you need to ensure that the app you are creating can effectively interact with all existing software applications in a typical for your healthcare facility ecosystem.
Another fact to take into account is hosting. The benefits of the cloud are essential: it protects data from the loss by hosting it on different servers, provides higher performance and 100% uptime. That is why a vast majority of enterprise healthcare mobility solutions like scheduling applications rely on it.
Nevertheless, many hospitals still tend to install traditional hosting – shared or dedicated – associating it with a less expensive solution compared to a cloud one. Therefore, a compatibility layer built in your app would be an asset that will bring your app to function with the existing setup.
3. Data Security and Regulatory Compliance
Security is a crucial point in app development at all times, notably in the healthcare environment. Medical software is home to a trove of sensitive data and private information. Hence, the responsibility for safety and privacy is not subject to neglect.
Storing app data on devices would not be the best choice in terms of extra security measures. Storing data on the app server – that is initially built for speed and efficiency, not for security – may also cause possible data leakage. Sounds puzzling?
The solution, in this case, would be ensuring confidentiality through encryption and the use of secure communication channels. Think about applying end-to-end encryption that can provide further means to protect sensitive healthcare data.
Implement the right multi-factor authentication method, where it is needed the most. By protecting access to your app, this additional guard layer will mitigate the authentication risks. Avoid misusing it, for you do not want to burden the workflows for clinicians and staff.
Be ready to face the menaces and protect your app from possible penetration. Forewarned is forearmed. Hacker, social engineer, or man-in-the-middle attacks can threaten your app. Focus on double-checking all possible breaches and eliminating security flaws.
Another focal point is rules and laws regulating medical data. They vary depending on the region and the type of medical content. Conduct research before developing your app to make it safe according to these rules.
Healthcare messaging standards and general requirements for protecting personal health information provide a secure way of data exchange. Thus, make sure your app is compliant with them.
Here’s a list of the most principal ones:
HIPAA. This act is a must to follow when you consider building a health app. HIPAA regulates the flow of PHI and how it should be processed by healthcare and insurance companies in order to protect it from fraud and theft.
FHIR. This is an important standard describing data formats, elements, and APIs that you should take into account if your solution deals with electronic health records.
Health Level 7. HL7 is another set of standards that aims to protect patient data. It helps to develop a healthcare app that will ensure safe data transferring between various medical organizations.
Direct. The standard provides guidance for encryption and digital signing of messages that include PHI.
Not as easy as ABC? If you only begin your way in this field, opt for an experienced team of developers as they are aware of what standards to follow and know what set of policies medical data should fall under.
4. UI and UX Considerations
Another subject whose importance is never faded is user experience and user interface design. While developing a healthcare mobile app and polishing its particulars, UI/UX should draw your careful attention. Practically speaking, it plays a major role in keeping the audience involved.
These days both doctors and patients frequently use medical applications and dedicate a lot of time to entering varied data. Thus, try to eliminate complex design solutions and emphasize ease of use. Stay simple. Visuals should be relevant and harmonious, containing plain target elements.
Most likely, patients using the app suffer from conditions or might be under treatment in a vulnerable state. Following this, peaceful and comforting emotions are the best message design could deliver. It would not be superfluous to mindfully choose fonts, sizes, colors, and keep an eye on overall readability. Anything that bewilders or causes spending extra time on acting will inevitably drive away your users.
Here is an enthralling story from TEDx about why Healthcare UX, in general, is important and how it can be improved:
5. API Components
API makes it easy for software programs to interact with each other and exchange data. Imagine that there are two river banks – unrelated to each other apps – that are connected by a bridge, or API, allowing data to flow between them no matter how these apps were initially designed.
First of all, you will need APIs when integrating a new mHealth app with an existing healthcare environment and different third-party services and tools. In this case, your goal is to ensure interoperability, streamline operations, and provide patients with a higher quality of care.
Research the available solutions – make sure if they are open, have up-to-date documentation, and are supported by the developer community. Consider that you might need to request additional API from vendors and suppliers to simplify workflows in some cases. Remember that not each of them is open to third parties.
Another scenario is to encourage healthcare providers and app developers to integrate their services with your solution. In this case, you need to provide an API.
When working on your own API software development stay focused on security and privacy concerns. It is vital to make sure that the records remain private and are accessed, for example, only by doctors, patients, or insurance companies. Consider writing well-defined API documentation.
6. Healthcare Mobile App Development and IoT Devices
There has been a growing buzz around IoT solutions for the past few years. Statistics prove that it is not just a hype or vague assumption. Based on the summary of Reports and Data, the Medical Internet of Things market is poised to hit 411.53 billion US$ by 2026 with a CAGR of 19.3%.
Today, health is wealth. An increasing number of people of all generations lead a healthier lifestyle stimulating the growth of the global health and wellness market. As public health awareness rises, it entails higher medical service requirements.
Here IoT devices come in handy being a better, faster, and in some cases cheaper solution. They help save time and simplify treatment by providing remote patient monitoring and medical assistance, enhanced chronic disease treatment, or smart hospital solutions.
So, what are the IoT devices leveraged in the healthcare sector? Here are some popular types:
- Healthcare charting
- Ingestible sensors
- Computer vision technology
Taking into account the complexity of the solved issues, a variety of devices and communication protocols or standards, there are a few challenges in medical IoT to keep in view:
We know that the data transfer flows from IoT devices and sensing units to a system and is usually kept in cloud storage after. Remain alert when applying cloud-based functionality. Consider deploying top-notch encryption and providing up-to-date protection.
Integration: multiple devices and protocols
IoT may connect a large number of devices. To create a flexible system, all of them should connect and aggregate information without a hindrance. Even if there is no uniformity of communication protocols yet, make sure that your app is developed according to such guidelines as HIPAA and FIPS that contain a lot of rules and regulations. Also, keep in mind API consideration we mentioned above.
IoT sensors and devices can generate a vast amount of data. When developing your IoT app, consider storage capability that would allow holding a colossal volume of information for an indefinite time. Get insights on the data size stored in the cloud. Skilled analytic engineers and data experts may help you to achieve this goal.
How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Healthcare App?
This is a nagging question for everyone who intends to develop a healthcare app. However, this is a tricky question for software development companies because there’s no simple answer. Too many factors impact the cost.
You might know that the total price of app development depends on the implemented functionality, UI/UX design complexity, set of features, integrations, and even the number of app users you’d like to reach after your product launch.
The choice of OS platform also affects the cost. Based on our extensive experience in building mobile solutions, the development of a healthcare application for Android is usually more time-consuming, which often means more expensive.
In general, health app development involves a team made of a Business Analyst, Project Manager, QA Specialist, UI/UX Designer, and 2 Developers. Talking about the HIPAA-compliant app of average complexity, the project estimation can look like this:
- Analysis and prototyping – 200 hours
- Project management – 180 hours
- Development – 1300 hours
- QA testing – 180 hours
- Deployment – 80 hours
Thus, healthcare app implementation requires around 1940 hours.
Depending on the engagement model, development team qualification and location, the average hourly rate range is between $30-100. Consequently, you can expect the budget to vary from $58,200 to $194,000 for a healthcare application that doesn’t imply anything too sophisticated.
Facilitating Mobile Health Transformation
Today the potential of AI and ML for healthcare is hard to overestimate. By deriving fresh and meaningful insights from the enormous amount of data, the market comes with new solutions for the medical industry.
AI and ML functions built in the apps enable us to check symptoms, guide a patient to the correct care based on its diagnosis, detect cancer beforehand, assist radiology, or even fight depression.
Fast forward a couple of years, a great number of solutions can be expected in biopharmaceutical development, rare disease treatment, and cloud-based digital drug discovery.
Taking leading positions among healthcare mobile app trends, IoT, AI, and ML technologies invade digital markets and stimulate the transition and update of software systems and solutions. This all facilitates mobile health transformation. In a partnership with Blockchain technology, they can participate in forming a reliable, innovative mHealth app industry.
If you want to leave a mark in this field, remember the importance of some facets while approaching the creation of your prominent app. Interoperability, easy-to-operate UX, and compatibility require your careful attention as their role is to make interactions, data transfer, and overall usability efficient. Security and regulatory compliance are not less if not more principal since they cover healthcare data safety and privacy.
Ready to Make a Breakthrough?
Healthcare mobile app development has a prosperous future. We can hope that in due time mHealth solutions will be a part of every medical ecosystem bringing service, quality, and customer satisfaction to the highest standards.
If you are looking for a customized healthcare solution, it is time to contact us. Our team is highly competent and ready to take on a challenge. Choosing Velvetech as a software vendor will smoothly guide you through the process of development of a competitive mHealth application.