Millions of people rely on their mobile devices to help them simplify their daily life. By developing a medical mobile app to help monitor their health conditions and nutrition levels, we can provide more people with access to even the most basic levels of healthcare. Users can prevent diseases or flare-ups in existing conditions, without having to wait for the first serious symptoms to occur. Anyone will be able to get professional medical consultation, directly from their device. This kind of access to basic levels of healthcare will become vastly important, especially for people living in the suburbs, villages, areas affected by war, or the poorest cities in third world countries.
As well, having an easy and convenient way to schedule a doctor’s appointment or share health-related information can greatly benefit patients while also saving clinics lots of time and effort in their administrative duties.
These are all great reasons to develop a medical mobile app.
Any medical mobile app development process starts with careful planning that encourages what-if scenarios and helps businesses envision all risk-factors. Below, we’re guiding you through all steps of development, from planning to medical mobile app launch:
- Study current medical app market
- Put up a list of must-have features
- Outsource app development (in case you don’t have an in-house team)
- Develop according to privacy and security standards
- Test your app before submission
Below, you will find all details about every step of healthcare mobile app development.
The current state of medical mobile app development
Consumer surveys conducted in the USA report that a quarter of US adults use one or more health tracking apps and a third of physicians have recommended an app to a patient in the past year. Globally, around a billion smartphone users use a wellness or medical mobile app and this stat is estimated to triple in the coming years.
According to the Growing Value of Digital Health report, the top app stores already feature over 318,000 health apps and, as this innovative technology-enabled type of healthcare grows, hospitals and other relevant stakeholders have begun engaging in medical health app development to offer patients new, more convenient ways to collect and share health-related information efficiently.
However, not all of these digital interventions are successful. Many medical mobile apps are not living up to customer expectations due to poor user experience, confusing user interfaces, and unsatisfactory functionality.
To make an exceptional mobile app for patient care, it’s important to know where hospital app development has failed thus far. The main shortcomings of many apps currently on the market include:
- unclear structure that doesn’t address a specific problem;
- a lack of clinical input;
- poor usability;
- failure to comply with rigorous privacy regulations and security practices.
Health app development of meaningful solutions that are reliable, as well as compliant with the law, is a critical step in the adoption of medical apps among patients and care providers. There are many different types of medical mobile apps, but most fall into 5 common categories:
Key medical app features of successful on-demand medical mobile apps
Developers are constantly looking for new ways to improve mobile medical apps. A crucial aspect of medical mobile apps is their ability to collect and analyze patient health information from several different medical devices. This often requires a wide range of potential features and can be challenging during mobile medical app development.
In order to develop a mobile health application successfully, it is important to find out what the target audience needs most and focus healthcare app development around the implementation of those essential features. Patient-oriented medical app development should always target the end user’s needs and should focus on delivering a great user experience.
Only 11% of medical apps currently on the market offer patients the most desirable functionalities. These include the ability to:
- access electronic medical records;
- view the schedule of doctors;
- book, change, and cancel appointments;
- access lab test results;
- get appointment reminders;
- get prescription reminders;
- request prescriptions refills;
- get notifications for the latest hospital news and events;
- download and upload reports such as X-rays, ultrasound scans, MRI scans, etc.;
- track and monitor weight and height changes, glucose and cholesterol levels, and other health indicators;
- call in a doctor and get emergency aid;
- view doctor profiles, their photos, publications, and records or credentials;
- view pop-up maps that show the route to hospital wards and sections, indicating the floor they are located on.
Hire mobile medical app developers
In-house healthcare application development is a no-brainer: the same workspace and time zone, easy communication, cultural fit, and no language barriers. But in-house teams pose challenges:
- Lack of versatility
- Staff turnover
- High cost
- Lack of talents
With a proper hiring framework, you can choose a reliable outsourcing healthcare app development company and leverage the following advantages:
- Huge pool of talents
- Non-stop service
- Streamlined processes
- High-quality services
There are three models of software outsourcing. The project-based model is an optimal choice for companies with pre-defined project scope and planning. As the company outsources end-to-end medical software development according to this model, a team of developers works on the project from its start to finish. A dedicated team model means finding a software development company that builds a team of developers for you, based on the required skill-set. Staff augmentation is the third model in which a third-party company builds a team of developers, while a business owner bears full responsibility for project management.
To learn the details, check out one of our articles about how to hire healthcare app developers.
As a client, you might have a lot of questions about our processes, policies, and procedures. Don’t hesitate to contact our sales team to communicate and clear things up.Get in touch →
Building a health app: Privacy and security standards in different regions
In today’s day and age, technology increasingly facilitates the circulation and exchange of information and it is vital to consider security regulations when trying to build a mobile app for a hospital. These regulations differ from country to country so it’s important for developers to be aware of the requirements and to strictly follow them in order to safeguard healthcare information effectively.
A medical mobile app’s architecture must be properly designed and should meet the security and privacy standards set out by governmental bodies to ensure that app owners don’t face potential financial liability that can amount to millions of dollars.
There are various laws and regulations to adhere to, depending on the region the app is going to be used in.
The United States
A medical mobile app for the US market that stores or transmits Protected health information (PHI) of a patient must be in full compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA regulates how protected health information is transmitted between servers and limits access to individually identifiable healthcare information for/to unauthorized entities.
Notethat your app must meet the HIPAA requirements if PHI is shared with covered entities (i.e. healthcare providers, hospitals, and health plans), meaning that your app fall under HIPAA if it contains PHI and is used by a covered entity. If your app is designed for patients’ personal use, it falls into a non-HIPAA category.
The European Union
In Europe, a medical app must be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect on 25 May 2018. The GDPR was introduced to specify what businesses can and can’t do with personal data and how it should be protected. The Regulation governs any data activities on all EU citizens. Therefore, if you collect, store, and use data from citizens of the EU, then your app is subject to the GDPR requirements regardless of where your business is located.
What is considered personal data under GDPR? Any data that can identify a user: name, username, photos, phone number, health records, IP address, location data, etc.
The United Kingdom
The Canadian government sets parameters for the administration of personal data by businesses in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). This act sets out the rules governing the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information in a manner that recognizes the right to privacy of individuals with respect to their personal information. The act also regulates the need of organizations to collect, use, or disclose personal information in reasonable and appropriate circumstances.
Countries in Asia have seen a number of significant regulatory developments in recent years, resulting in the implementation of new, comprehensive “European-style” privacy laws. In Japan, for example, the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) dates back to 2003 and stands as one of Asia’s oldest laws in this field.
In Singapore, the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) established in 2014 has been enacted with some of the stiffest penalties for data privacy offences in the region.
Encrypting medical app data
Maintaining security standards and ensuring the protection of sensitive personal data should be a top priority when developing a medical app. Stored or transmitted data must be encrypted at all stages in order to meet guidelines. Data encryption translates the data into another form or makes use of a secret code so that only people with access to the key (formally called a decryption key) or password can read it properly. Encrypted data is commonly referred to as ciphertext, while unencrypted data is called plaintext.
Currently, encryption is one of the most popular and effective data security methods used by organizations. The purpose of data encryption is to protect digital data and maintain its confidentiality as it is stored on computer systems and transmitted using the Internet or other computer networks. The outdated data encryption standard (DES) has been replaced by modern encryption algorithms that play a critical role in the security of IT systems and communications.
Developers working on medical mobile apps should ensure that they follow standards and use any or all methods available to keep patient and healthcare provider information private and secure.
Medical software testing before launch
Professional software testing is surely worth putting effort and money into. Actually, there are four main reasons why test your medical app before launch:
- To know what maximum load your medical mobile app can handle. When testing the limits in advance, you know whether to limit all processes or expand capabilities.
- To find hidden bugs and be sure that the app functions well following specific, unique, and unexpected workflows.
- To avoid privacy leaks and data gaps, ensuring the safety and security of user sensitive information.
- To make sure the app is user-friendly, can satisfy all customer’s needs, and won’t become a useless investment.
If you skip testing, your company loses credibility and customers. When quality assurance is perfectly done, this plays a huge role in business growth.
How to develop a medical app: SteelKiwi’s hands-on experience with medical applications
We’d like to show you some of the mHealth projects we’ve built so far. If you’re interested in seeing more, check out our healthcare projects page.
A good example of how technology can be incorporated into wireless medicine is Nova Vita, one of SteelKiwi’s clients. Nova Vita is a medical care center that provides high-quality services, including diagnostics and treatment plans.
Our team worked together with Nova Vita in order to develop online services that offer electronic documentation flows and differing levels of access to records for medical personnel and patients. An operating schedule for doctors and diagnostic labs at the center have also been automated to help care providers work more efficiently.
Patients are offered personal accounts with their treatment histories, lab test results, and doctors’ conclusions. Online registration, direct messaging to a doctor, and push notifications for the latest news are available on patients’ devices. Personal health information is transmitted through protected channels compliant with the Data Protection and e-Privacy Directives.
Through collaboration, SteelKiwi was able to provide Nova Vita with a comprehensive solution to help healthcare providers at the medical center improve their services and increase the practice’s efficiency.
Another great example of a mHealth app we’ve built is Meddy.co. It’s a doctor booking platform that operates in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and allows users to search for doctors, clinics, and procedures.
To choose the right doctor, users choose the country, city, and area and a healthcare provider that suits their needs. Users can filter their search results by treatment type, sub-specialization, clinic, nationality/country of education, language, and gender. Also, users can sort the results by popularity and recommendation. In addition to the search functionality, Meddy/co features blog so users can find doctor opinions and healthcare articles on different types of treatments, home remedies, and health concerns.
Interesting facts about Meddy
- Since the launch of Meddy.co, the platform has facilitated more than 50,000 visits and attracted over 2,00 doctors
- Meddy raised pre-Series A round of $560,000
- In 2019, Meddy raised $2.5 million in Series A funding
- As of late 2019, Meddy.co was the largest doctor booking platform
How much does it cost to build a medical application?
The price of a medical app will heavily depend on the complexity of the app and the amount of hours spent on its creation. Based on our experience, it will take 35-40 days to make a mobile health app for Android and the same number of days will be necessary to build an app for the iOS platform. The medical mobile app design for both operating systems will take approximately 20 days.
Outsourcing app development can be a great solution for those looking to save resources (money, in-house developer time, etc.), while still getting the same high-quality result. At Steelkiwi, we’re happy to offer consultations and pricing quotes for the development of medical mobile apps and many other projects!
Developing a mobile health app for patients
Using technology to enhance healthcare in incredible and meaningful ways is a sophisticated task that requires collaboration and involvement from multiple parties. After presenting a proposal to the development core, an idea needs to undergo medical and ethical analysis. Design and development must strictly adhere to all regulations established and enforced by laws that protect sensitive health information in order to avoid data breaches.
To build a medical mobile app that has a successful impact, the patient's best interests should be a top priority. Effective medical apps must be developed in such a way as to be adopted with ease, and developers should understand that the end goal of the best medical applications is to assist its users.
Have an idea for a startup or app, but don’t know how to develop a medical app? Contact us and our dedicated team will provide you with medical mobile app development software, making mobile technology accessible for your practice and patients. Learn about our expertise in the healthcare sector here.