The smartphone revolution has ushered in the era of mobile applications. From simple calculators and calendars to elaborate apps for gaming, astronomy, and more, the smartphone has led to the creation of one of the world’s largest industries. Custom healthcare software development was quick to bank upon this opportunity to roll out numerous mobile apps that’d benefit doctors and patients. What followed was a torrent of creativity as applications for everything from weight loss to yoga, nutrition, exercise, insurance verification, and so forth were released.
The digital age has arrived into the healthcare space in superb style. Healthcare app development has swiftly evolved into an integral part of the industry. It simplifies medical processes, but it also holds the potential to improve the patient experience significantly. Health care app development brings a myriad of advantages to the forefront. Health data accessibility is improved, remote health delivery is increased, medical errors are minimized, expenses are reduced, communication is enhanced – and the list goes on and on. Healthcare mobile app development is now a critical component toward increased patient satisfaction and profits.
With a market value projection of $100B by the end of the year, every medical expert and organization looks to lap up the best healthcare app development services. It is no wonder, then, that numerous healthcare mobile app development companies are emerging. As you embark on selecting a preferred healthcare app development company, you’ll need industry know-how to ensure that you stay ahead of the game.
2. What is Healthcare App Development?
In this section, we’ll cover a small orientation about developing applications for healthcare. This part talks about the impact that medical applications have had on the industry and important stakeholders – providers, patients, and developers. It’s a rapidly growing sector that’s had billions in funding and revenues.
Healthcare app development is the process in which a smartphone app is created mainly for healthcare and wellness. These could help a person manage their disease better or even guide enthusiasts towards their wellness goals. Furthermore, such applications can also be directed towards healthcare professionals, just as they can for patients. Applications for practice management, telehealth, medical coding and billing help healthcare providers manage their operations better.
It is not enough for mobile applications to be useful, and they also need to be user-friendly. That’s because the targeted users come from all walks of life, and not everyone might possess the technical aptitude to navigate the application’s functionalities. A good interface is one of the fundamental requirements that significantly impact the popularity of an app.
Healthcare app development for smartphones is a massive global industry growing steadily. There are over 40,000 healthcare apps available on Apple’s App Store and Play Store for Android users. Moreover, the market for telemedicine apps is slated to grow to $18 billion within the next five years. As if that’s not enough, mobile medical app development bagged over $10 billion in funding in the last couple of years. To sum it up, health app development has become an integral part of the broader healthcare IT industry.
3. Why is Healthcare App Development Essential in 2023?
Smartphone applications have penetrated almost every aspect of our lives. This section talks about the way in which healthcare applications are fast becoming an integral aspect of the medical industry. It took a devastating pandemic for everyone to realize the benefits of medical applications.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was quickly realized that a remote health monitoring system is integral to patient health. Even though healthcare organizations were increasingly seeking out mobile app development services, their potential was only fully realized during the pandemic. The possibilities are endless with mobile health development ranging from basic consults to prescription reminders and overall fitness. With a broad range of solutions, healthcare app development has been quickly recognized as a critical component for healthcare providers.
With the recent technological advancements toward healthcare application development, medical apps for patients are empowered to deliver higher quality services. For example, recent telehealth solutions can provide consultation services to remote locations. Furthermore, mobile healthcare apps for patients can now assist doctors with diagnosis through highly efficient data analysis. Through mobile medical application development, health care applications provide a plethora of opportunities for hospitals, doctors, and patients that were previously considered impossible.
The biggest hurdle for patients seeking out healthcare has always been the fear of the costs involved. With healthcare web applications development, it has become easier for patients to compare the costs of multiple providers and choose an affordable option with minimal costs. The next biggest advantage is easy accessibility to patient engagement systems to provide critical care in time for patients.
Whether remote locations or odd hours, healthcare web development allows patients to access care in just a few clicks. Finally, healthcare software development has proven to minimize diagnostic errors. Doctors can manage their patients with increased accuracy through comprehensive records, patient data analysis and management, and personalized care options. Patients are empowered to take care of their health.
Benefits of a Health App for Patients & Medical Professionals
Hospital apps have many advantages for patients as well as medical professionals. A digitized platform streamlines many activities in the everyday workflow, thereby reducing the burden for medical staff. Things that previously needed manual, repetitive procedures with pen and paper can be accomplished with a few clicks using a hospital app. Pulling up electronic health records, managing appointment schedules, arranging for tests/scans, fetching their results, and updating health records are activities that mobile-based integrated healthcare solutions can help aggregate into a single interface.
On the other hand, a patient mobile app allows people to select appointment timings as per their convenience, reschedule them, access their health information, engage with healthcare providers solutions to manage their condition better, adhere to medication regimens, etc. Additionally, hospital mobile applications also help optimize the entire process surrounding medical coding, billing, claims submission, and reimbursement. Digitizing these processes minimizes errors and bolsters productivity.
Effect of Pandemic
While experts often spoke about the potential benefits of healthcare mobile application development, it took a pandemic for everyone else to realize the usefulness of medical apps. The ability to have virtual consultations, make secure payments, have prescriptions home-delivered without even going to a clinic was priceless.
Advanced telehealth solutions allowed people to connect with mental health experts and receive therapy online from the comfort of their homes. Additionally, patients could also speak to their doctors about diet, medication, lifestyle, and so on through patient engagement systems incorporated within a medical app for patients. Such applications helped millions across the globe seek help and stay safe during the pandemic without leaving their homes.
4. Health App Vs. Medical App
Not every application made for the healthcare industry can be used by either patients or doctors. Some are made exclusively for medical professionals, and others are made for just about anyone who can download them on a smartphone. This section talks about the different kinds of apps for healthcare.
Health apps provide support or services for health and wellness through smartphones, tablets, or computers. These applications are aimed at the general person looking to improve their health situation or cultivate healthy habits. Apps like these are HIPAA compliant solutions and offer information often backed by experts but are largely unofficial. Examples include apps for –
- Exercises and Workout Regimens
- Physical Activity Tracking
- Searching for Hospitals and Ambulatory Clinics
On the other hand, a medical app (mhealth solution) is aimed at healthcare professionals. Such types of applications directly help the experts in the delivery of care. Examples of medical apps include –
- Applications for Telemedicine
- Remote Patient Monitoring
- Apps for Viewing Patient Records
- Chronic Disease Management Applications
- IoT-based Health Data Collection
5. Types of Health Apps
There is a wide range of applications that cover the spectrum of healthcare and wellness. Not all of them require the recommendation of a doctor or any other medical professional. Some of them have become extremely popular among fitness aficionados.
1. Fitness App
The advent of this type of app for patients kick-started a global fad for personal fitness. Needless to elaborate, fitness applications connect users to trainers and coaches via video calls. The result – a certified professional anywhere, anytime to help you reach your fitness goals. The best part? Most of the exercises don’t need the users to leave their houses.
A wide range of calisthenics, cardio, and core strength workout in the living room leads to a lean, muscular physique. A major advantage of fitness apps is that users need not miss out on their routine if they need to travel. All they need is a decent internet connection and some open space!
2. Weight Loss App
Losing weight is almost always a challenge for adults across the globe. Factors like age, personal life, and work stress make it difficult to shed fat. Obesity has been directly linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
A patient app for weight loss guides users on a wide range of lifestyle changes to help them get back into shape. These include advice on which foods to avoid and which ones to consume, exercises, sleeping habits, fasting schedules, calorie counting, and so forth. Every bit of guidance is garnered after consultation with experts. Such apps have helped millions of people lead healthier lives and cut back on medical spending.
3. Meditation App
Meditation and yoga are buzzwords often linked with eastern spiritualism. However, it doesn’t mean that people from all walks of life can’t draw its benefits. Numerous studies and research by leading neuroscientists have concluded that meditation does have a positive impact on mental health.
Meditation requires an expert to help users begin, and applications connect users with an experienced professional who would guide them through the process. The greatest advantage of such an app is its utility, and it helps people practice meditation from their homes, parks, workplaces, hotel rooms, etc. Mental health is one of the most overlooked aspects of healthcare. In light of this, meditation apps go a long way in helping users cope with stress better.
4. Nutrition App
Personal nutrition is perhaps the most confusing and vague aspect of wellness. While everyone knows to cut down on sugary and fried foods, few seem to know the dos and don’ts of impactful nutrition in their daily diet. Expert opinion around this seems to shift every year, leaving people frustrated and demotivated.
Mobile apps for patients specialized in nutrition create personal profiles for each user to assess their health. This is made possible by age, weight, country, medical history, etc. Subsequently, the application advises the users on what to eat, portions, cooking techniques, etc.
6. Types of Medical Apps
Medical applications are directed at doctors and medical professionals. These allow them to streamline their clinical and non-clinical activities and, in the process, improve the outcomes for the patients. The pandemic demonstrated that such applications can address some of the inequities that plague healthcare, not only in the United States but across the world.
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of telemedicine by orders of magnitude. Nearly half of all users in the US use telehealth to make up for cancelled visits. The telehealth market in the United States is valued at approximately $30 billion.
A telehealth app allows people to see their doctors virtually using nothing more than a smartphone and an internet connection. It eliminates the need for in-person visits, a boon for elders and patients who can’t travel. This was extremely helpful during the pandemic when waiting rooms were potential infection hotspots.
Telehealth has also encouraged more people to take mental health seriously as the comfort and privacy of one’s own home is likely to help people open up to professionals. When integrated with a practice management solution, telehealth allows doctors to see patients from anywhere and still manage the office administration of their clinics. To sum it up, telehealth has cemented its place in healthcare mobile application development
2. Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is tracking patient health outside clinical environments. RPM applications collect patient health data in real-time and enable doctors to observe it at any time. RPM is further embellished by IoT-based smart wearables that monitor and collect patient vitals throughout the day.
Health information like heart rate, blood pressure, etc., can be assessed by physicians using medical informatics solutions. Such pre-emptive analysis often highlights early signs of impending disease, allowing doctors to take a proactive approach to care. The use of healthcare analytics solutions has been known to improve the management of chronic conditions. Smart wearables linked to a relevant wellness application make for effective remote health monitoring systems. These have become highly popular among fitness enthusiasts and doctors alike.
3. Chronic Disease Management
Chronic diseases are ailments that last for a long time and require continuous medical supervision and medication. The best examples of chronic diseases are diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart problems, and these can’t be cured but need to be managed.
This is where patient apps for chronic disease management come in handy. Such applications educate patients about their conditions and offer expert advice on diet, healthy lifestyle, exercise, medication, etc. Moreover, such apps also double up as patient engagement systems and consist of appointment reminders, medication reminders and promote good health by improving doctor-patient interaction.
4. Patient Engagement
In simple words, patient engagement comprises interactions between patients and doctors to help patients manage their health. Hospital mobile apps for patient engagement enable people to connect with their physicians through video calls and text messages. It helps patients understand their disease better and make informed decisions about their care. In doing so, they’re better aware of healthier diets and lifestyle choices.
Applications for patient engagement also feature appointment reminders and alarms to indicate the time for medication. Repeated studies and surveys have concluded that good patient engagement directly impacts the patient experience and clinical outcomes.
7. Challenges in Healthcare Application Development
There is little doubt about the practical benefits of using healthcare applications, both for patients as well as providers. Although such apps have demonstrated their importance, the actual process of developing them is not without its own unique set of challenges. This section elaborates some of them.
There’s no doubt that healthcare mobile app development has become an industry by itself. With increasing smartphone penetration every year, mhealth solutions are seen to address many challenges in healthcare inequity across the United States and the world. Although these are exciting times for healthcare app developers, the industry is not without its own set of challenges.
a. Patient Data Security
Many experts concur that personal data has become one of the most valuable commodities on earth. Cyberattacks have increasingly begun targeting people’s personal and financial information. Health information is no different. A person’s medical records contain all of their health information and are used by physicians to diagnose and recommend treatment.
If patient medical data is lost or changed in any way, it could directly affect the clinical outcome for the patient. So, a healthcare app development company creating a medical app must adhere to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulation when instituting data security measures. Doing so ensures a reliable degree of security and minimizes the chances of losing the data. Failure to comply with HIPAA would incur severe legal penalties and even imprisonment.
b. Integration with Third-Party Applications
This holds in the case of mobile health apps for patients and those aimed at doctors. Integrated healthcare solutions go a long way in helping providers offer better care and improve the patient experience. Electronic data exchange between the applications is possible because of application programming interfaces (APIs).
A practice management application must be able to work with a patient scheduling solution, telehealth platform, in addition to software for medical coding, verification, and billing. But every single one of these applications might be developed by a different medical app development company. They are bound to follow varying approaches and use different technology stacks for development. In light of this, it becomes extremely important for all the applications to work seamlessly.
Patient-centric applications for performance tracking and diet monitoring have become a fad amongst fitness enthusiasts. These platforms must be compatible with smartphones. Doctors and fitness experts have increasingly used such applications to help seniors and patients with chronic diseases manage their health better. Patient data in real-time outside clinical settings could help reduce inequities in healthcare and improve population health management. Without seamless integration among multiple applications, the utility and scope of these solutions are limited. That’s the reason medical application development companies consider integration as a top priority.
Testing software thoroughly is a fundamental element of the development process. Testing is conducted to assess the user interface, functionality, speed, digital security, compliance, and even scalability. Testing is carried out within well-established parameters and any bugs discovered are dealt with promptly.
When it comes to building a health app, complying with regulations is paramount, and a lack of thereof amounts to serious legal consequences in penalties and even prison time. Ensuring all the parameters are met under complete regulatory compliance is a challenge that every healthcare app developer must face.
This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of any mobile application, especially for a healthcare app. The user interface is the point where users interact with the application. A good user interface (UI) is where the users’ experience with using the application is the best, requiring minimal effort to get used to navigating the functionalities.
Applications with higher functionality but poor interface often struggle to garner a sizeable base of users. Medical apps for patients must be easy to use for people from all walks of life, irrespective of how technically apt they may or may not be. The challenges involved in developing a good user interface have as much to do with the creativity and awareness of the developers as it does with their technical expertise.
8. 10 Step Expert Verified Process for Medical Application Development
Healthcare application development is a rapidly growing industry that is seeing many companies vying for a dominant share of the market. In this part, we will talk about the steps involved in developing a medical application. These represent a generalized framework that is common for building this type of application.
Let’s discuss a series of time-tested steps to create a medical app –
i. Understand the Requirements
At the outset, while choosing healthcare mobile app development services, you must clearly understand the problem that needs to be solved or a gap that needs to be filled. Healthcare application development comes with a wide variety of choices, and you must be clear about what you need. Your target audience, the competitors, the expenses, etc., are all factors that come into play during healthcare application development. For example, healthcare apps for patients have to address the specific requirement of the organization’s patients and should be chosen accordingly.
ii. Know the Users
Are you looking to create mobile healthcare apps for patients or medical professionals? Custom healthcare software development is more likely to be successful if it is developed through the lens of the user. Once this distinction is established, it is time to communicate effectively with the end-user to understand their needs and goals through the health care application.
iii. Identify the Need to be Addressed
Healthcare web application development is always a step toward addressing a gap or solving the issue. It is fundamental for the healthcare provider to identify the issue and understand it from the patient’s perspective. Healthcare web development requires a clear understanding of both ends of the spectrum to arrive at holistic solutions. Sometimes, it may help opt for integrated healthcare solutions to solve more than one problem through healthcare product software development.
iv. Decide the Third-Party Applications to be Integrated
Whether you are looking to integrate EHR systems or various features, it is critical to be clear of the multiple integrations required from the get-go. Mobile health application development should be initiated only after all integrations are considered. To address this component, the medical software programmer should be comprehensively briefed on the organization’s and patient’s requirements from the app. Medical app development is usually more successful when it is developed holistically. Healthcare cloud computing can be an excellent tool for custom mHealth app development.
v. Develop the Framework
This is the lifeblood of your healthcare product software development. When initiating healthcare app development, it is essential to balance creativity and standard formats. The healthcare software product development team must maintain an equilibrium between a user-friendly design and minimal actions toward task completion. A responsive and empathetic design is the key to successful mHealth app development.
vi. Code the Design
This is the phase when the designs are finally committed to code. The developers split the task amongst themselves appropriately and set an acceptable deadline. The technology stack is decided upon, and work begins in earnest.
Every type of software, whether a mobile application or something installed on computers on-premises, needs to undergo extensive testing. The testing is carried out under well-established parameters to assess the application for its speed, security, usability, functionality, and so forth.
Testers also ensure that the application complies with HIPAA regulation, the failure of which would incur serious legal consequences. Errors or bugs discovered during this phase are documented thoroughly for the mobile health app developers to work upon.
Needless to elaborate, debugging comes after the testing phase of developing a health app. Bugs and glitches that hinder the smooth functioning of the app are corrected, and the corrections are appropriately documented. Subsequently, the application is re-tested for problems and debugged if any arise.
After all the problems have been removed, the application is ready to launch or implement at specific healthcare centres. Following implementation, it’s natural for the users (staff/patients) to get accustomed to it.
It’s the job of the medical mobile app development company to provide continuing support for the users of their platform. That includes addressing problems that might occur at any time of operations and providing timely updates.
9. Best Practices for Medical Mobile App Development
There are several apps that offer a wide range of functions in healthcare and wellness. With the industry growing at a rapid rate, it is important to keep in mind some important factors that define best practices for building medical applications.
Medical applications have seen a meteoric rise, with numerous market leaders holding a sizeable market share. Yet, although the industry has grown to its current size and newer innovations popping up, there are a few best practices for medical mobile application development.
A. Systems Interoperability
With numerous companies offering health systems, ensuring that hospitals’ mobile apps are compatible with existing systems is paramount. This has become a fundamental step that health app developers need to provide.
Seamless operability among different health systems allows providers to fetch patient records, fetch test results, and order scans without hassle. In other words, healthcare interoperability among medical platforms directly impacts the quality of care. The ability to retrieve relevant information quickly means that the patients need not put up with delays when it comes to essential treatments that are time-sensitive. A lack of healthcare interoperability hinders clinical decision-making, making things difficult for providers, patients, and healthcare payers.
B. Platform Agnostic
Medical apps must function smoothly on smartphones, computers, and tablets, which holds for patient-facing applications and those meant for medical professionals. Depending upon the app’s function, its users would either be patients, doctors, or other medical staff.
Applications for booking appointments, remote patient monitoring, and patient engagement have a patient-side and a doctor-side. E.g., If a patient schedules an appointment using a medical app and then later reschedules it, the change is reflected immediately to the clinical staff using the same app. The patient would’ve been using it on their smartphone, but the staff at the clinic would probably have a tablet or PC version of the same application. An application that coordinates activities between different stakeholders is always better compatible on multiple platforms.
C. Include Push Notifications
It is always prudent for healthcare mobile app developers to include important notifications in their applications. These could remind users to take their pills, refill a prescription, or go for a consultation.
Missed consultations or a lack of medication adherence are primary reasons for worsening chronic conditions. So, a push notification feature in healthcare mobile apps for patients is highly coveted and goes a long way in fostering doctor-patient engagement.
D. Feedback From Patients
Whether you’re a guest at a hotel, a customer at a departmental store, or even a patient at a hospital, it always feels good to have your suggestions heard. Obtaining feedback from patients is perhaps the simplest way for hospitals and ambulatory clinics to improve their workflows.
The overall patient experience and clinical outcomes also matter when it comes to medical care. Doctors and medical staff would follow established organizational guidelines, but it’s the patients who are at the receiving end of the protocols and workflows. Everything from the doctors’ bedside etiquette and hospital food to billing and insurance verification procedures decides the patient experience. An option to give feedback from patients on any aspects of medical care or other formalities builds trust in a patient application.
10. 10 Essential Features of a Healthcare Application
While healthcare applications are many, it has been agreed by doctors as well as programmers that certain features are must-haves. That’s because it’s the users who’ll ultimately judge if or not, they’d want to continue using an application. In this section, we will discuss some of those features that differentiate the popular ones.
I. Simplified Registration
Patient registration is an elaborate and tedious procedure that requires paperwork and formalities. When a person is getting a consultation for the first time, they need to fill out complete personal details, medical history, allergies, medication history, previous substance abuse (if any), and other things.
Hospital apps for patients that possess a function to streamline registration make things easier for the patients themselves and the staff. People can fill out all the required details before arriving at the hospital using the application. These details are obtained by the clinical staff almost immediately after patients fill them out. Such a workflow reduces waiting times and allows hospitals to see more patients.
II. Efficient Physician Search
Searching for a good physician can get frustrating, and this is especially true if you’ve moved to a new city. A medical application with an option to search for doctors is immensely helpful for patients who aren’t sure enough to decide independently.
Such a function must display the doctors’ names, qualifications, and the name of the hospital they work for. People who need to see a specialist can use such a feature to look for and book an appointment instead of visiting a general physician and waiting for a referral.
III. Simplified Appointment Scheduling
The old way of calling up a clinic or a hospital to ask for available slots while the staff keeps you on hold is long gone. One of the most coveted features of a healthcare app is the ability for patients to book appointments whenever they want, at whatever time they prefer. This means that a person can open an app at 2 am and schedule an appointment for the next day.
This feature streamlines the appointments and reduces staffing requirements at healthcare centers. Patients can choose any time slot they want, wherever they are, and it is a win-win for them and doctors.
IV. Appointment Reminders
Missed appointments are among the most common reasons for deteriorating health among people suffering from heart disease and seniors with geriatric problems. People might forget their appointments because of personal stress, professional commitments, or it might just slip their minds.
A hospital patient app with a feature to remind patients of appointments indirectly helps them manage their health better. Reminders can be in the form of push notifications, alarms, or automated messages, and this is one function that every medical app user would love to have.
V. Medication Reminder
A lack of adherence to medication routines aggravates chronic conditions than most other things. Things like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes need regular supervision and discipline to manage them.
Missing out on taking your meds on time is known to worsen diseases. A hospital app for patients with a feature of medication reminders goes a long way in helping patients manage their health better. A reminder in the form of a message or an alarm will eventually help patients reduce their healthcare spending in the long run.
Chatbots help patients stay in touch with their doctors and clarify any doubts regarding their pills, diet, or treatment. This eases any fears and helps people manage their health better. Previously, a patient would visit a doctor, listen, return home and try to follow the doctor’s instructions as best as they could. But with a chatbot, tips and follow-up advice are just a few clicks away.
Patient engagement builds an impactful relationship between physicians and their patients. A chatbot is an excellent way for doctors to interact with people and educate them to an extent when they can make informed decisions about their care. This feature is increasingly being recommended by doctors and also preferred by patients.
VII. Doctor-Patient Video Conferencing
Similar to the chatbot feature mentioned above, a video conferencing feature within medical apps for patients helps people connect with their doctors at any time. The difference? A video calling or conferencing feature has the added benefit of actually seeing a physician in real-time, adding the human element to the conversation, which is mostly absent in text message chats.
A video-calling feature enables patients to see their doctors, even if it’s through a screen. This is known to bring a degree of comfort and assurance to patients, especially if they happen to be seniors or suffering from advanced heart disease.
Data privacy has become a major concern for every type of digital services provider and user. As more and more users adopt various technologies and applications to manage and track their health, they are bound to generate more data. Ensuring the privacy and integrity of this data is paramount in mobile healthcare application development.
Medical apps must ensure that users’ health data is protected and the security measures comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). If the data is lost or compromised in any way, it could hinder doctors’ ability to make informed decisions about medications and treatment.
IX. Electronic Prescriptions
Electronic prescription software enables providers to write prescriptions using their devices and send them directly to a pharmacy. This workflow is significantly more efficient than the traditional method of giving a handwritten prescription to a patient, who must provide it to the pharmacy staff.
Using an e-prescription speeds up the process of handing out medication or refilling it. It prevents mistakes caused by legibility problems of handwritten prescriptions, medicine fraud, or misplacement by patients.
X. Simple Payment Options
Healthcare payment can get complicated, with patients not being able to guess the out-of-pocket expenses. Moreover, with the rapid adoption of technology across all aspects of healthcare, it is beneficial for patients if a medical application includes a simple payments gateway.
A feature for simplified payments would enable people to have a remote consultation with a trusted family doctor, even from a different city, and make the payment with a few clicks.
11. How to comply with HIPAA regulations for Healthcare App Development
HIPAA is a regulation that must be complied with by organizations that handle patient data. It is a sweeping law that every piece of health tech must adhere to, or face severe legal consequences. This section discusses compliance with HIPAA.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) establishes a standard for protecting sensitive patient health information, and it is binding on organizations that handle people’s medical data. Companies that violate this regulation face severe legal consequences and are fined heavily. Depending upon the data breach’s severity due to non-compliance, certain executives might also face prison time.
To comply with HIPAA, health application development workflows must stick to HIPAA privacy and security rules. As per the privacy rule, the law requires sufficient safety measures to ensure people’s health data privacy and limits the use and disclosures of such information without prior authorization from the patients. Moreover, the privacy rule also gives patients the right to their health information and the right to obtain a copy of the records and even have corrections made where suitable. The rule mainly applies to health plans and clearinghouses.
HIPAA security rule stipulates nationwide standards to protect people’s electronic health records used, updated, and viewed by a healthcare facility. The standards involve multiple digital, administrative, and policy-based safeguards for sensitive health data.
In light of both the security and privacy rules, mobile medical app developers must ensure that their solutions comply with the regulations. It is necessary to protect the patients’ physical health and avoid legal consequences, and it is up to the developers to ensure that all the digital safeguards are inadequate.
12. How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Healthcare App?
Developing an application is an elaborate process that involves its very own lifecycle. Like the development of any type of software, there are costs involved in creating a healthcare application. In this section, we’ll talk about the factors that determine the cost of development.
Building any application has its own set of challenges unique to the industry it targets. The strategy for developing a mobile healthcare application involves pre-development, development, and post-development stages. Each stage has its cost estimates, which add up to produce a reliable approximation. Some of the parameters that affect the cost of healthcare apps –
1. Design of the application
This is sure to influence the cost of the development of the entire application. The fewer the functions of the app, the simpler its design, and the cheaper its cost. On the other hand, an application that contains many functionalities is bound to have a more elaborate design, which will drive up the costs.
As mentioned earlier, an application with complicated features involving artificial intelligence, machine learning, informatics, etc., is bound to cost more than an application with simpler features.
Features that capture bio-vitals assess them over the long term and share the same with physicians require a team with relevant skill sets. Moreover, the server storage capacity to store and process such data of numerous users would also ultimately increase the cost of overall development. On the other hand, a simpler app like the one for recording the number of kilometers run or calories eaten can do with a lower budget.
The platform for which the application will be developed plays a significant role in determining the cost. Developing for the Android operating system will incur higher costs than doing so for the iOS platform. But the upside is that Android has a higher user base, so it potentially provides a higher market penetration.
But most application developers these days prefer to make their apps for both platforms, and doing so requires different teams to develop the respective front ends for both the dominant platforms. Having two teams to develop an application for Android and iOS will increase the cost significantly.
4. Experience and Size of the Development Team
An outstanding application would require some of the best talents in the industry. Having a team of highly experienced mobile application developers is sure to cost more because you’re paying for the best. Moreover, the number of people in the development team also factors cost considerations.
If you have a limited budget, it is best to have one or two seasoned experts leading a team of developers with moderate experience. That way, you can channel your resources better while also helping build a strong and balanced team.
5. Development process
The actual development process will reveal the true cost of building an app. No matter what the estimates point at when you get down to it, practical aspects come to light. Things like hardware costs, APIs for various integrations, sudden changes brought about by necessity or by the latest market research, revisions, and so on will help you get a more realistic estimate for the time and cost of developing a medical application.
Establishing a reasonable deadline is one of the first things to do after the design is finalized and forming a team. Subsequently, the costs can be quantified as per the progress achieved regularly, concerning the agreed-upon deadline. If the development exceeds the date, the overall development cost is bound to exceed initial estimates.
Testing a medical application needs to be done according to various parameters. It is part of the post-development stage of application building. Things like speed, loading time, functionality, features are all tested, and if found to meet requirements, it’s readied for launch. Otherwise, any problems found are documented, fixed, and the testing begins again. It is estimated that a functional healthcare application will require approximately $5 00,000 to build from design to post-development.
13. Custom Healthcare Applications Vs. Pre-Built Healthcare Applications
When deciding upon a healthcare application, it is important to know if you’re better off buying an off-the-shelf solution or having one made according to your needs. Here, we talk about the pros and cons of both pre-built applications and custom-made ones. It’s going to offer a degree of clarity to professionals who need to make a decision.
Suppose you’re a healthcare professional who wants to implement an application to simplify workflows. In that case, you might be faced with the question of purchasing an existing solution or having one created according to your needs. In such a case, it is always best to assess the pros and cons and then make a decision. Let’s explore some of the advantages and problems associated with both –
Benefits and Difficulties with Custom Apps
As the name tells you, a custom application is often built for specific needs instead of a general-purpose requirement. When looking for a suitable hospital application to manage activities, it often pays off in the long run to have a customized platform built exactly according to current workflows. Moreover, it can be tailored to meet the evolving needs of your organization. A custom-built healthcare app can be scaled as per changes in an organization. A single physician practice can grow to become a larger ambulatory care organization with multiple facilities. This, in turn, might grow to become a large hospital with several specializations and treatment capabilities.
A medical application to manage all the activities needs to keep up with the growth and support the additions over time. Otherwise, administrators will have to spend money on new software and waste time on training staff to get accustomed to it. There are plenty of downsides to think about when it comes to customized applications, and the most obvious one is cost. A major impediment to having software tailor-made for your needs is the initial investment size needed, and not all budding organizations can afford it.
Time is another factor that must be taken into consideration. If you’re looking for something to fill a need quickly, then you can forget about having a custom application developed from scratch for your needs. There is an elaborate developmental process involved in building any kind of software. Technical assessments must be made to determine the platform’s functions, followed by design, development, testing, implementation, and subsequent support.
A medical app development services company that makes a custom application for your organization might make you dependent on that company. If that company shuts down or gets acquired, then getting timely support will be a big problem. Without that, you won’t have regular updates or fixes in case of malfunction.
Benefits and Difficulties with Pre-Built Apps
We’ve talked about how custom software could help your organization in the long run and is worth the high upfront investment. Let’s look at pre-built software and what it can do for your requirements. One of the biggest advantages of a manufactured application is the time it takes to purchase and implement. There is no development involved. A pre-built software can be just bought and installed on systems. Its cost is relatively lower, and the time for installation will not exceed a few hours. It is easier to research a pre-built software by looking at its reviews, checking out its functionality at other organizations, and getting things clarified from the manufacturer.
The biggest risk of using off-the-shelf software is that it may or may not meet all of your organizational needs. Although it would certainly cost less than a custom solution, it might cost in terms of time and other resources spent on training staff and altering established workflows to meet the functionalities of the new software. There is also the question of system compatibility. If your healthcare organization’s hardware isn’t supportive of the pre-built software, then you’d have to return it and get another one.
If a medical organization witnesses growth, a manufactured software can’t be scaled up to meet evolving requirements. If an ambulatory clinic expands to include care and treatment options, it won’t be possible for commercial software to include the necessary workflows of the newly introduced amenities. These were some of the pros and cons of choosing a custom-developed software versus a pre-built application.
14. How to Choose the Right Technology Partner to Develop Custom Healthcare App?
If you are looking for a company to build a healthcare application tailored to your needs, it is important to know how to choose the right one. In this part, we list some parameters that you must watch out for in order to be able to make an informed decision about choosing the right company.
When you have decided to have a customized healthcare application for your organization, it comes down to choosing the right company to develop it. This takes a reasonable amount of research as numerous mobile health app development companies offer world-class application development services. It is natural for all of them to claim to be the best, and none of them can’t be written off as being anything less than highly competent. So how do you go about choosing the right technology partner to build a custom healthcare app that fits your needs? Let’s talk about some of the things you can watch out for in making a decision.
a. Previous Solutions Developed
If you want to assess the competency of any person or company, then what better way to do so than looking at their track record? The same rule of thumb also applies to mobile application development companies. A healthcare professional must spend enough time and do the necessary research to determine if a company has a history of delivering a product within deadlines and still meet client requirements.
It also pays off, later on, to take time and analyze the actual work that a company has done. The time spent here will give a clear picture of what you’re going to pay for and also has the added benefit of offering clarity about how medical applications work when implemented at healthcare organizations. You would not only learn about how health apps work and their various functionalities, but you will get a better understanding of what you’re looking for.
b. Experience of the Leadership and Team
Any company is only as good as its leadership. A mobile healthcare software development company run by experienced leadership is always preferable. Experience brings clarity and, most importantly, knowledge about the industry. The development of healthcare applications, just as every other industry, has its own set of the ins and outs, coupled with ever-changing dynamics and nuances.
It takes someone in an industry long enough to understand its workings to lead a team at a company and meet deadlines. It takes experience and thorough know-how about an industry to know what to look for, especially when it comes to healthcare technology—developing an application that’s going to be used at medical facilities needs expertise in developing strategies and a complete understanding of administrative workflows that the app is going to digitize.
In addition to industry knowledge, medical app development experience also helps identify talent. Someone who has spent years as a developer and risen steadily through the ranks will know how to select the right people in their team. A mobile healthcare application development team with the right mix of creativity, experience, and cross-domain expertise is more likely to meet deadlines and deliver a better product. These qualities are good signs that you should watch out for if you want a customized application developed for your requirements.
The user interface is an indispensable part of any type of application, and it is the point of contact between users and the functionalities. So, if you want to choose a good company to develop your tailored application, it is certainly worth your time to look at the interface developed by the company for its existing projects.
If an app has excellent functionality but requires users to go through a very elaborate series of steps, it’s bound to fail. Usability matters when creating a medical application and a good app with a tough interface will invariably be called out for that. So, the interface should be close to the top of your list when you’re considering things to decide a company for custom app development.
d. Adherence to Security
Patient data is to be protected at all costs. Lost or modified health information makes it very difficult for doctors to treat people, especially those who suffer from chronic conditions. A healthcare application without adequate data security measures would endanger users’ well-being and run the risk of serious legal troubles.
If there’s a digital breach, and the company is found to have violated regulation and placed inadequate security measures, then the ensuing legal action could potentially shut down the firm. So, strict adherence to security is one of the primary indicators of the quality of work by a medical application development company.
e. Awards and Recognition
Awards are other forms of recognition handed out to honour excellence. So, it goes without saying that a medical application development company that’s been awarded for its work must be your first choice if you’re looking for custom software—the more the awards, the better the company, and higher the cost to be expected.
15. Healthcare App Development: Success Stories by OSP
OSP Labs has been a leading developer of a wide range of technology solutions aimed at the healthcare industry. Here, we offer a glimpse into some of our successful applications developed for specific organizations, and the impact they had.
1. Mental Health Practice Management + RCM
1.1 Business Challenges
A Texas-based mental health centre wanted to automate the manual medical billing process. Paper-based practice management and the RCM system caused the loss of revenue and the quality of care delivered. The main challenge for OSP was to bring about the digitization of the clinic’s daily practice and the day-to-day revenue operations.
The organization suffered from longer revenue cycles, a very slow and fragmented billing process, an error-prone claims submission procedure, with a higher rate of claim denials.
1.2 How did OSP Help?
OSP brought about the following transformations. OSP’s solutions overhauled the existing paper-based system into a digital one with automated claim generation and payment. The company also created an in-house EHR, a patient document management system, and an insurance verification platform. A manual patient data management solution that allowed the creation of custom treatment plans for patients, with an Automate PHQ-9 Assessment system
Fixed coding errors with a solution for predefined CPT Codes, automated & accurate coding, and an integrated clearinghouse. It instituted a smart credentialing system that features digitized credentialing, document expiration alerts, CAQH management. OSP also implemented automated payment management to handle co-pays, online payment, A/R management. OSP’s solutions also ensured complete data security in full compliance with HIPAA regulation, secure patient data management through a cloud-based system. Lastly, the firm also helped the healthcare centre with a telehealth solution, appointment management system, and patient engagement system.
2. A Solution to Manage Geriatric Health for Senior Patients
2.1 Understanding Challenges
Elderly patients often struggle with managing their health ailments, and many depend on caretakers. It is essential to keep regular tabs on their health conditions to become aware of any risks early on. This can make the patients more health-conscious and motivated towards personal healthcare management.
It is a family care application designed for senior patients suffering from chronic diseases, mental health issues, Alzheimer’s, etc. This app also helps families of old patients who do not stay with them but wish to stay updated about their health and life status. It enables loved ones of the elderly to check category-wise progress and live score and provide relevant instructions to the caregivers.
Our client in the US approached us wanting to create a portal that allows elderly patients to log in and fill up information that ultimately yields a health status report. They sought clear data visualization and health updates based on various categories, such as physical, mental, family, etc. They wanted to connect the doctor, caregiver, care recipient, and family members of the patient to stay connected for supporting good health and quality of life of the care recipient.
2.2 Analysis for a Roadmap
Our client sought a portal for managing health ailments among the elderly through data visualization. They wanted it to be accessible by doctors, patients, and caregivers. Team OSP conducted vigorous analysis and discussed ways to create our client’s ideal platform. We began designing a portal through which elderly patients can fill questionnaires evaluating their health and life statuses.
OSP brainstormed ideas with team members and developed a portal that allows the elderly to fill the questionnaire on demographics, physical activities, habits, daily lifestyle, and health conditions. A life care report that mentions the quality of life and health status is generated based on the data entered.
The user can view information on different categories, namely Life Score, Physical Health, Mental Wellness, Family and Friends, etc. This technology allows caregivers to fill up questionnaires on behalf of elderly patients. The main user entities are elderly patients or care recipients, caregivers, doctors, and admin.
2.3 Our Solution
OSP built a dashboard that enables the view of the data of the care recipient along with the live score. The life score is a metric score out of 100 that indicates the individual’s health status. It consists of different categories, including physical health, mental health, family and friends, and eating. Each category has a separate weightage, and the user can track the progress of the categories as a graphical representation. It involves various categories and provides an overall score for each.
The care quality portal consists of a section known as the Questionnaire archive that displays the past health assessment forms submitted. A function known as ‘preliminary report’ allows getting detailed assessment based on a specific questionnaire. The preliminary report consists of physical health, Mental Wellness, Life Score, Dependency on daily activities, and Conditions. The system generates health suggestions or interventions known as Risks and Conditions for the patient based on the report to enhance the quality of life.
Personal information: Personal basic information; Medical and personal data- information of healthcare providers like doctors, dentists, cardiologists, etc.; Health insurance information; Advisors and professionals; Online Accounts; Important documents- will document, property documents, testaments; Upon death; My Memories and Wishes; My Contacts; Medication; QR code medical emergency details- medication, dosage, and frequency
Admin Dashboard: The admin can review information of Care recipients, Caregivers, and Healthcare Providers. They can view the questionnaires submitted to date, manage and create questions including multiple-choice (ADLs) and single-choice (IADLS) dependent on activities like eating, walking, etc. For each question, a point is allocated, and eventually, that affects the score of the particular category. The admin dashboard is kept secure through the Professional Information Manage Access feature. The user can decide the accessibility of data.
Team OSP built a portal that offers doctors to view of questionnaire responses in preliminary reports on various categories: Physical Health, Mental Wellness, Family and Friends, Eating and Nutrition, Home and Environment, Activity and Purpose, Nature, and Social Life.
The preliminary report can be downloaded on the system. The report highlights the overall life score and health status based on the different categories. The super admin can view the list of care recipients, questionnaires submitted, and their caregivers and they can view specific data and details as and when required.
The care recipient is independent; the caregivers and doctors handle the system on behalf of the care recipient. The personal information tab in the portal consists of a huge databank of the patients that helps caregivers during emergencies. All the information entered is managed back-end, producing a total score out of 100. The admin can add new questions to the questionnaire. The score decides the intervention needed, specified in the preliminary report.
3. AI-Based Solution To Predict Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus (DM), commonly known as diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorders characterized by high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. If left untreated, diabetes can cause many health complications. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes. Over 25 million people in the US have diabetes.
Many people with diabetes are diagnosed in the later stages and develop Type 2 diabetes. Predicting patients with Type 2 diabetes is important to understand their complications better. AI and ML-based predictive analytics can provide ground-breaking support to help the US government policymakers to help alleviate diabetes.
Our system is based on a patient’s personal, medical, diagnosis, and medication data. Our finalized system design included in-depth AI architecture diagrams, report layouts, and screen designs. We have created an intelligent roadmap to leverage the random forest algorithm of 2000 trees on the diabetes datasets.
We initialized data pre-processing with TensorFlow for the logistic regression model. The dataset is divided into two parts, training data, and testing data. The training set labels 2/3rds of the data, and the rest 1/3rd of data is the testing set. The division of the dataset utilizes a random order generated by the seed.
1. We started simplifying the data sets into four major components.
2. Personal data include age, sex, height, and weight, whereas the lab data consists of the body measurements and data gathered from a few basic medical tests.
3. As per the HL7 text, the lab data included the patient’s BMI, respiratory rate, heart rate, temperature, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure. We used the median of the collected data.
4. Using an advanced dashboard, providers can add the diagnostic description with automated ICD-9 coding and prescribe medication for every patient.
5. The EMR data with complete historical data of patients were applied with a random forest algorithm and log loss metric to derive the approximate possibility of diabetes.
6. The AI-based predictive analytics solution can identify the patients that are currently suffering from Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
This AI-based predictive analytics offers risk stratification critical for early intervention and cost-effective resources. The system enables one to focus on people at the highest risk for chronic conditions like Diabetes Type 2. People with 95%+ accuracy already have Diabetes Type 2, whereas those with 60% accuracy may have a chance to get diabetes shortly. The randomness in building the random forest algorithm helps consider many likely explanations. It can capture a much broader data picture than a single tree with an autoscaling feature.
The market for healthcare application development will only grow as more and more people from all walks of life embrace smartphones. With every industry that grows and evolves, this one too is bound to face a set of challenges unique to it.
But whatever challenges lay on the road ahead, the regular stream of investment drives innovation and attracts the best and brightest talent. As the industry moves forwards at a breakneck speed, we might see a future where everyone only opts for custom healthcare applications, and pre-built ones may only occupy a niche.
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Written by Riken Shah linkedin
Riken's work motto is to help healthcare providers use technological advancements to make healthcare easily accessible to all stakeholders, from providers to patients. Under his leadership and guidance, OSP Labs has successfully developed over 600 customized software solutions for 200+ healthcare clients across continents.