The healthcare industry is expected to increase in market size to $102.43 billion by 2022, according to Zion Market Research, and the prediction is that around 70% of all major healthcare companies will invest in mobile healthcare apps. App stores already feature over 165,000 health apps and, as this innovative technology-enabled type of healthcare grows, healthcare providers are offering patients new, more convenient ways to collect and share health-related information efficiently.
In fact, according to Google Play store, fitness and calorie monitoring healthcare apps are the most successful, but many other diagnostic apps and medical apps are rising in popularity. Globally, around a billion smartphone users use a health or wellness app and this stat is estimated to triple in the coming years.
But a majority of the healthcare apps launched don’t live up to customer expectations due to poor user experience, bad graphics, and sub-optimal functionality. Poor user experience can result from confusing navigation and overall features. Some apps don’t address specific customer pain points, and in many cases, issues like data security and compliance have failed. So what does it take to ensure that a healthcare app is successful with the target audience and stands the test of time?
If you’re an app developer and your current, or the next, project is building a healthcare app, then here are some important tips:
1. Be sure you target right
Each type of healthcare apps will fulfill a different need, and will have its own set of rules and considerations. Before you create an app make sure you understand what is required from various perspectives such as UI, compliance, security etc. As an example, an app used by a doctor for viewing X-rays will have a different set of compliance rules than one being used by patients to check doctor availability and make an appointment.
2. Stay friendly with HIPAA
HIPAA compliance is an imperative in the healthcare industry. HIPAA governs how to legally share data without damaging patient privacy. As a developer you need to understand that different apps will require different levels of HIPAA compliance, depending on the type of data being stored and shared. It might be a good idea to engage an expert like a healthcare attorney who can guide you properly on what to watch out for.
3. Follow industry best practices
There are some firms and workgroups that offer guidance on best practices to ensure that your healthcare app is both compliant and market-worthy. It might be a good idea to partner with such entities to better understand best practices, compliance standards etc.
4. Stick to standard terms and coding
A key problem with the tsunami of apps hitting the market is that of interoperability. By using standards-based coding and terms in your app – such as DICOM, HL7, SNOMED and ICD-10 – you can ensure that your app will be interoperable and will communicate with others and safely share information. Hospitals still rely on traditional hosting and even standalone software installations, so you must ensure that your app is compatible with existing apps.
5. Don’t ignore great design
A great UI/UX experience is perhaps the center of any app. By delivering excellent graphics and ease of navigation you can delight the users of your healthcare app, and eventually enjoy thousands of downloads and higher ratings. In the long run, what will set the great apps apart is the ability to share useful information in a user-centric manner.
6. Test your app…several times
This may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how some app development firms are willing to cut short the app testing process in a rush to get to market faster. Invest sufficient time in testing an app in a controlled environment and check for every possible glitch, security breach, compliance requirement and so on. Make sure you take a robust approach to testing, considering all possible scenarios, to ensure the app is completely ready to release into the app store. It is also a good idea to get third party validation and verification for an app before going live, to ensure that no possible errors have been missed and your app is truly safe for use.
7. Be ready for Interoperability
Health Tech is a vast field with multiple technologies at play, made more complex by technologies in the cloud. So your app must work seamlessly with existing healthcare technologies either inherently or by building an app compatibility layer over existing systems.
8. Don’t shy away from API
It is important that you incorporate application programming interface (API) components for authenticating the devices for accessing a repository containing protected information, or any data. These APIs are essentially the tools used to execute a specific task with a module of software. As an app developer you must include multiple API components in order to authenticate the access to a patient’s database and to connect to suppliers.
9. Give data security paramount importance
Any mobile app is expected to safeguard user data with the highest security measures and protect their privacy. When it comes to healthcare apps the need to protect data gains importance exponentially because sensitive data like personal health information is involved. Additionally, every geography has different compliance requirements for data privacy and protection. According to a report, the Department of Health and Human Service received more than 200 breaches and at least 3.1 million patient records were affected in 2017. If your app does not meet the required security standards, you can be in serious trouble. Along with restricting access to data make sure that your app complies with the regulations of different countries.
10. Consider iterative development
Creating healthcare apps, actually building any app, should be done gradually and in layers. Features and functionalities should added one at a time, giving users time to adapt and also giving your development team time to test each feature.
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The last word
Increasing patient engagement and enabling easy delivery for doctors and healthcare organizations is a huge demand of a highly competitive healthcare industry. Mobile healthcare apps have emerged as a great way to help healthcare providers and patients connect, share information and enjoy improved healthcare. So when you’re building a healthcare app, make sure it has all essential features and functionalities to fulfill their requirements, while ensuring a superior customer experience and compliance.