Practically every sector is going mobile right now, and that includes healthcare. We’re seeing an increasing number of medical and healthcare applications contribute to the well-being and health of patients around the world. Consumers are now used to depending on such mobile products to track their physical activity and medicine regimes.

The mobile trend has spread to professional settings as well. Healthcare providers, hospitals, medical institutes, and doctors are now investing in mobile apps. These apps not only help patients to stay healthy but also assist medical professionals in delivering care to more people efficiently.

If you’re looking to build a custom healthcare application, you’re in the right place. In this article, we outline all the key steps you need to take to build a successful healthcare app.

How to Build a Healthcare Application in 8 Steps

how to build a healthcare app - step by step

Step 1: Identify the problem you want your app to solve

The first step to building a successful mobile app is knowing what sort of purpose it serves. This is true for all mobile apps, including healthcare products.

In general, successful digital products help their target audiences to solve a problem or achieve a goal. When toying with different ideas for a healthcare app, deepen your research by asking the right questions:

  • How will it make the lives of its users easier? What problem will it solve?
  • Does your app fill an existing gap in services?
  • Is it going to stand out from the competition?

The mobile landscape is very crowded today. You can be sure about one thing: your application will be competing against many others. If it fails to solve the problem of its users in the most efficient and attractive way, making it stand out will be very difficult.

Step 2: Learn more about your target audience

You’re not creating a mobile application in a vacuum. The primary goal in the early stages of your research should be getting to know the prospective users of your app. 

This means asking a lot of questions. Here are some of them:

  • Where are they located?
  • What demographic segments do they represent?
  • What sort of preferences do they have?
  • What are their health goals?
  • Perhaps they suffer from some chronic illnesses?
  • What kind of devices do they have?

You need to have a firm grasp of your target before building a product for it. Otherwise, you risk that your app doesn’t find a product-market fit and fails to attract any users.

Step 3: Decide what type of app you’d like to build

Before building a healthcare app, it’s a good idea to learn more about the mobile scene in this sector and understand how your product will fit into it.

We can divide the healthcare apps available on the market into several categories:

  • Clinical assistance apps – these applications target medical professionals and include features such as a review of laboratory results and patient charts, symptom checkers, digital imaging abilities, and other types of assistance. Practitioners working in hospitals and offices use them to deliver more accurate diagnoses.
  • Reminder apps – this type of mobile application helps healthcare providers and physicians to schedule further appointments quickly and then remind patients about their upcoming visits to reduce the number of no-shows. Moreover, such apps can also deliver e-prescription pickups to patients.
  • Remote monitoring apps and telemedicine – these apps enable healthcare providers to remotely transmit patient information from various locations. Doctors can monitor a patient’s health thanks to a wide range of information such as remote oxygen checks or ECG viewing.
  • Medical training and education apps – this area of apps provide access to educational materials for doctors who are looking for more specialized knowledge. Such apps range from educational games and study guides to clinical references and drug-related information.
  • Health and lifestyle apps – this type of apps usually appear on the consumer market and help users to track their personal health and well-being via diet and fitness tracking apps. Other common mobile apps in this field are motivational or meditation apps.

When developing your own mobile application, think about how it fits into the healthcare mobile scene and how it differs from the apps already present in it.

Step 4: Choose your app features

Once you know what app you want to build, who will be using it, and for what purpose, you’re ready to start narrowing down the functionalities of your app. For example, technical assistance apps might need a dashboard that visualizes different data in one place, but a lifestyle app might not need one at all.

Here are popular features healthcare apps usually include:

  • Analytics, reporting, and charting – if your app deals with data, it’s smart to equip it with an analytics engine that generates visual reports and charts. That way, users can easily monitor their activity or review their progress.
  • Dashboards – dashboards come in handy not only for patients but also for medical professionals. They allow aggregating all of the essential information in one place to streamline the process of delivering care, helping providers to become more efficient and patients to understand their health better.
  • Payment portal – if you plan to allow users to make payments via your app, your app will need to have a payment portal. For example, some healthcare apps allow users to purchase products or subscription packages.
  • Geolocation – healthcare apps include geolocation features that allow users to quickly find what they need, for example, doctors, clinics, medical facilities, and pharmacies.
  • Real-time chat and video – these features are particularly prominent in telemedicine applications that let patients connect with doctors to discuss their health, treatment options, and receive e-prescriptions.
  • Patient portal – this feature will allow patients to receive alerts, reminders, messages, and e-prescriptions from their healthcare providers.

Step 5: Make key technology choices

First of all, you need to decide which devices you want your app to support. Mobile devices are today divided into smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices such as smartwatches.

They all come with their pros and cons. There are also desktop devices such as computers or laptops to consider. They might become more important for apps that generate complex graphs and assist in the research. This is where a combination of mobile and desktop technologies promises to bring the best results.

Another important decision is about the platforms your app will support. It makes sense to build an app that is available to as many users as possible. However, building native applications for both Android and iOS operating systems might be very costly.

This is where your market research comes in handy. If you took your time to learn more about your target audience, you probably know which platform they prefer. You can build your app for one platform, and once it gains popularity, expand to another one. You can also take advantage of cross-platform mobile development technologies that allow building two apps at the same time by sharing a significant portion of the code.

Step 6: Research privacy and compliance issues

When it comes to mobile healthcare apps, privacy and compliance with regulations are very important. Such apps are usually subject to intense legislation to protect both patients and practitioners.

Depending on the type of healthcare app you’re planning to develop, you might need to obtain various certifications that ensure patient data protection. The insights gained from your privacy and compliance research will also help you to understand which mobile development platform you should choose. iOS and Android come with various security pros and cons, so weigh them carefully before making your choice.

This is also the moment to decide about other security issues:

  • What forms of user authentication are you going to implement?
  • What will your privacy policy say?
  • Will you enable and install encryption on mobile devices?
  • Should you keep adding updates to your app to avoid compromising protected health information?

Step 7: Design your app with users in mind

Given the small screen sizes of mobile devices, the development team usually relies on a solid user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. Given that healthcare apps often deal with sensitive data, it’s crucial that you implement these development practices. They will help you avoid common design pitfalls and inspire trust in your product.

Here are a few best practices:

  • When building your user pathway, focus on consistency, and streamline the process.
  • Ensure a seamless experience in your app and create a user-friendly design.
  • Minimize the number of interaction points for users to reduce the cognitive load of your app.
  • Deliver key information early on in the user’s journey.
  • Create a clean and uncomplicated graphic design for your app.

Step 8: Find the right development team

Now that you know what your market niche is and what problem your app will solve, it’s time to make your idea reality. Note that not every development team will be able to build a custom healthcare app. It’s not only about the right technical skills and expertise, but also experience in the healthcare industry. 

You need a team of professionals who have solid processes in place for your product and credibility as a brand. If you’re planning to outsource the entire development work, make sure that the team you choose has experience in working with clients from the healthcare industry. For example, you can ask whether the team has ever delivered an app that was HIPAA compliant or able to integrate with the existing EMR/EHR systems.

You can find more information on choosing the right software company in this blog post.

Key to building a successful healthcare app

Follow these steps, and you’re bound to develop a healthcare app that achieves success on the market. To position your app for success, partner with an experienced and reliable development team.

At Codete, we have delivered many projects for the healthcare sector and have the right processes in place to ensure that your app finds a product-market fit. Our experts have the domain knowledge to help you launch your project and deliver an outstanding experience to the users of your app.

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