How to Develop a Healthcare App: All You Need to Know

8 min to read
mHealth app
8 min to read

There are now over 318,000 health apps available on the top app stores worldwide. However, a large number of these apps are of low quality and poorly designed.

Medical app development is complicated; it is far more complex than building an app in other industries.

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This article will provide an overview of the process behind creating a healthcare app, as well as discuss the most in-demand types of healthcare apps and the features you’ll need to include in your app, as well as how much it will cost.


Top 5 healthcare apps


Medical apps are widely-used - according to a Referral Md report, about 52% of smartphone users gather health-related information on their phones and this number continues to increase. If you are looking for the inspiration you need to create and launch your app, you can look through this selection of successful modern applications made for patients and physicians, which should give you some ideas. 


Here are the best, and most popular, healthcare apps available today: 


Epocrates is a mobile EHR system for physicians. Its features include ePrescribing, integration with electronic labs, task management, charting and online patient notes. It is available on both Android and iOS devices and is rated 4.5/5 on the App Store.  

Epocrates is a mobile EHR system for physicians

Visual DX is the single source for diagnostic clinical decision support. Physicians can search by symptoms and signs, as well as take and upload photos of injured areas to determine the correct diagnosis - having access to thousands of images and graphics helps to speed up the diagnosis process. VisualDx is used to validate a diagnosis and provide patient education by using real photos, and it’s available on both Android and iOS devices. The rating on the App Store is 3.8/5 .

Visual DX app for diagnosis clinical decision support

Doximity is an online service for medical professionals, which provides its members with the latest medical news, a case collaboration feature, the ability to sign and annotate documents, and communicate easily with colleagues and patients. It’s available on both Android and IOS devices, and the rating on the App Store is 4.8/5.

Medscape is an online global platform for physicians and healthcare professionals worldwide, which offers the latest medical news and expert perspectives, point-of-care drug and disease data, relevant professional education and CME/CE. It’s available for both Android and iOS devices, and the rating on the App Store is 3.8/5

 Medscape app for healthcare professionals worldwide

PEPID is designed to assist physicians and clinical staff in treating patients with medical, surgical and healthcare needs. It gives access to the largest drug database on the market, as well as medical calculators, high-resolution drug photographs and illustrations. It’s available on both Android and iOS devices and the rating on the App Store is 4.7/5.

PEPID app for treating patients


Who is your audience?


To build a healthcare app, you need to choose a particular group of users, focus on their needs and follow their specific demands.  Medical apps for clinicians can be focused on patient health tracking, providing quick connections in emergency cases and simplifying access to databases with medical records, prescriptions and patient histories. 

Meanwhile, apps for patients can concentrate on personal health monitoring, fitness activity tracking, mental health control and even providing educational information.


The most popular types of healthcare apps and their features


When the choice of app audience is made, it is time to look at the healthcare application market and define what kind of app you can develop for this particular target group.

Popular apps in the healthcare sphere

According to reports (Accenture 2019), consumers primarily choose medical providers who offer digital capabilities such as attendance reminders, online appointment booking, health indicator telemonitoring, health tracking, etc. So, which types of mHealth apps are the most popular?


Telehealth mobile apps

 

Unsurprisingly, telemedicine apps for doctors are gaining popularity among patients, medical establishments, and investors. According to Statista, the telemedicine market size will increase to $41.2 billion by 2021.

The main problem telehealth mobile apps solve is the provision of healthcare services for remote populations.  Telemedicine relies on videoconferencing technology to allow people to get excellent care without the need to physically attend the doctor’s office.  

To build a telehealth app, you need the following features:  

  1. Video consultations with doctors, nurses or other healthcare practitioners 
  2. In-app chat functionality 
  3. The ability to organise & track health information in one convenient place 
  4. The ability to automatically send prescriptions automatically to a nearby pharmacy. 


Doctor appointment scheduling


According to IHS, the number of doctors offering virtual consults will double by 2020. It proves a great demand for high-quality healthcare services, no matter where you live. Medical appointment booking apps eliminate the inconvenience for patients of staying in long queues and improves efficiency and productivity within clinics.  Appointment scheduling apps allow patients to book, change and cancel appointments online, as well as communicate with doctors from their home or workplace. 

Doctor appointment scheduling mHealth app

To build an appointment scheduling app, you need the following features: 

  1. The ability to schedule an appointment and view the appointment calendar
  2. Online consulting via text messages, video or audio 
  3. Search doctors by filters, such as location, specialty and rating 
  4. Offer reminders about appointments 


Electronic medical records


According to Business Insider, EMR/EHR penetration among physicians is expected to reach 100% by 2025. As such, they occupy a stable position in today’s mHealth market.  EMRs solve the main problem of doctors and patients not having on-demand access to medical records, lab results, and prescriptions. Rifling through piles of paper records in the archives is time consuming and inefficient. 

Electronic medical record app for doctors and patients

EMRs allow both physicians and patients to gain access to any medical data required. To build an EMR app, you need the following features: 

  1. Online patient records
  2. Picture archiving 
  3. Data about drug prescriptions, interactions, costs, and characteristics 
  4. Notifications for the latest hospital news and events 


Medication reminders


For some patients, adhering to a medical regimen with strict rules relating to when and how to take pills and other medications can be challenging. Medication reminders help patients follow their clinician’s prescriptions and take medication at appropriate times, in an appropriate order and in the correct amount. With the help of medication reminders, patients will be able to manage their own treatment better. 

Medical reminders mHealth app for patients

To build a reminder app, you need the following features:

  1. Pill consumption tracker
  2. Time reminders for your medicines 
  3. Medication management (doctors can control patient’s medication) 
  4. Prescription refill service 


Medicine delivery apps


The main problem medicine delivery apps solve is helping patients who live in remote or rural areas, or are unable to leave their home, gain access to the required medication.  Medicine delivery apps allow patients to order medicines via the internet and get them delivered at their doorstep at any time. 

To build a medicine delivery app, you need the following features:

  1. Information about substitutes and side effects of drugs 
  2. Catalogues of pharmacies and drugs 
  3. The ability to search for a nearby doctor 
  4. Online medicine ordering 


Healthcare app design tips


It is better to base the design of the medical app on the best practices that work for your target audience. As a rule, the design should be centred around the user interface (UI), focusing on the convenience of the user experience (UX) .

Here are some tips for clean and simple app design:

  • Define the colours: delicate colours are the best option for ease of use.
  • Notifications: reminders and goal trackers should be prominent and stand out through the use of colour, fonts, and animation.
  • Fonts: the fonts for your application should be simple and of appropriate size, so that the users can easily understand what is written.
  • Simplicity: it is better to design a plain user interface to avoid confusion and inconvenience.

If the design is convenient and simple, the users will intuitively understand where to tap to take the desired action. But if it is not - they won’t use your healthcare app more than once.


Privacy regulations for healthcare apps


After defining your healthcare app’s type and key features, it’s crucial to deal with your consumer’s data protection. A mobile medical app should meet security and privacy standards set out by the government to ensure that app owners don’t face potential financial liability and data breaches.

Different regions have distinct standards.

  • The USA

A healthcare application that stores or shares Protected Health Information (PHI) must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA controls the way data is transmitted between users, or their computers, and requires a limitation of access for unauthorised users.

  • The United Kingdom

In the UK, the Data Protection Act sets limits on the appropriate storage, sharing and use of personal information, requiring it to be specified in a privacy policy. It assures that individuals’ health information is properly secured while allowing the flow of health data needed to provide better healthcare.

  • Europe

A healthcare app must be in full compliance with EU laws such as the Data Protection Directive 1995/46/EC and the e-Privacy Directive 2002/58/EC. Both of them protect the rights of privacy of personal data processing.  Compliance with regulations might cause additional expenses and hassle, but your healthcare app must comply with them so that the user data is kept secure. 


Why do healthcare apps fail?


A lot of healthcare apps fail due to a range of complicated and unsolved issues. 

They include:

  • Poor app usability: an excess of features may make users leave the app for another one, with a better specification and a more understandable interface.
  • Lack of feedback: feedback from patients or clinicians gives you a clear understanding of your app’s success and usability. If you don’t listen to your customers, you won’t be able to make necessary updates or changes.
  • Product vision: if you don’t define your app’s audience, the sphere of use, central purpose, and develop original features, your app won’t last long in the competitive app market.
  • No proper testing: healthcare apps should undergo bug and error testing before launching. Inaccurate results and diagnosis as a result of system failures could cost someone’s life.
  • Inexperienced developers: if the chosen software company has a lack of expertise, be aware that mistakes in the app development process may severely affect its future use.


How much does it cost to develop a healthcare app?


You are all set to develop an app for your medical business, and your idea is finalised. You have decided the features, how you will present everything is concluded, and now you are wondering: how much does it cost to make an app?  The average cost of healthcare app development is approximately $425,000, but it is expected to increase in the coming years. According to a Research2Guidance report, there is a huge variance in the amount spent on mHealth app development across the market.  36 % of publishers spent less than $25,000, while 12% spent closer to $500,000. The costs can also increase after the app’s launch (you need to spend money on improving the app and fixing issues when the application is already in use). 

The costs involved in medical app development are divided into several stages: 

  • Pre-build (the costs for planning the app)  
  • Development (the costs for the whole development process) 
  • Post-development (the costs for app launching and maintenance)

The cost of healthcare app development depends on the hourly rate, which may start at $20 per hour in countries like India, and top $250 in the USA. The total cost for medical app development will depend on the number of features, their complexity, and experience level of the development company.

External app development budget of the last app until launch

We are located in Ukraine and charge our clients less than the market average while providing the same level of quality as software development firms with higher rates. If you want to get an estimate for the cost of your health app, please send us a request through the contact form here.


Summary 


There are many requirements for the development of a proper custom healthcare application, and it is hard to meet all of them. But with a good technology partner, you will get a user-friendly, secure and effective health app ready to improve people's lives. 

We hope the above information was useful for you. If you want to discuss any details of mHealth app development, feel free to contact us.