Medical applications are becoming more and more popular, and the demand for convenient healthcare services is increasing every day. As competition in the healthcare market is high, doctors and clinics vie to provide patients with the best service. As most people use mobile phones, an app is a great opportunity for any doctor, hospital, or clinic.
There are a few reasons why the m-health industry is growing extremely fast:
- The rise of chronic diseases like diabetes
- Increased lifespans
- Growing demand for remote care
- Pace of life
- Increasing prices for healthcare
Mobile applications can help meet the needs of patients. In this article, we’ll explore how mobile applications can:
- Promote a hospital or individual doctor’s practice
- Generate a new flow of income for healthcare professionals
- Help medical institutions get ahead of their competitors
- Increase patients’ loyalty
- Collect valuable data that allows medical professionals to treat patients more effectively
The future of the mHealth market
Currently, mHealth is one of the biggest parts of the whole digital healthcare market. It’s the second most funded category after data analytics, according to Statista:
This funding is behind the hundreds of mHealth applications currently available on the App Store and Google Play Store.
According to Grand View Research, the global mHealth market will reach $49 billion by 2020. This prediction is supported by the fact that currently two-thirds of the biggest US hospitals offer mobile apps for their patients.
The main reason is that millennials are increasingly using mobile phones to manage their health and access patient portals, according to Accenture:
As you can see, the mHealth market is worth entering. Now let’s discuss the main types of mHealth applications for doctors and issues you need to consider when building an mHealth app.
How to build an MVP for your mHealth app
Step 1. Identify a problem
As a healthcare professional, you know exactly what problems you and your patients face. Maybe the wait times at your center are long, and you’d like to create an app to manage the flow of people.
Or maybe you want a way to provide remote consultations and have medical records on hand. Whatever the problem, a mobile app might help you solve it.
Step 2. Think about your target audience
An mHealth mobile app can be useful for different groups of people:
- Insurance officers
- Emergency workers
- Healthcare organizations
- Hospital management
You need to take your target audience into account and plan your app accordingly.
Step 3: Choose an application type
A healthcare application can be either very simple (and just informative), or it can include many features that add value for patients. While there are lots of informational apps, we advise you to create a more valuable product that will be truly useful for your patients.
Let’s see what types of mHealth apps there are.
Emergency care apps alert a caregiver, doctor, or emergency service right away to provide immediate help for a patient. Such apps are especially useful for patients at home and people under observation. Emergency care apps can also help elderly people who have caregivers.
Fitness and healthy lifestyle apps are the most popular types of mHealth apps. This market is oversaturated, though fitness and lifestyle startups are still appearing. As an insurance company owner, you can make a simple wellness app for your clients and encourage them to use it to get special offers or discounts.
Patient care apps help medical professionals provide care for patients under observation. They can collect data, provide useful tools for health management, and allow patients to connect to doctors.
General hospital apps are branded applications that feature work schedules, doctors’ profiles, the location of a hospital’s facilities, and other general information that’s useful for potential and current patients.
Doctor’s apps connect doctors and patients and provide doctors with online access to patients’ medical records. With this type of app, patients can schedule appointments and doctors will see those appointments in their schedules.
Medication trackers remind patients to take their medication consistently. You can connect a medication tracker app to a doctor’s application so a doctor can control dosages and provide information about when to take medicine.
A telemedicine app is one of the best choices for you if you want to increase the loyalty of your patients and provide them with consultations even if they can’t make it to your office. A telemedicine app offers video chat for doctors and patients where they can communicate and share lab results and medical records.
Step 4: Allocate funds and find a development company
You can either fund an app yourself or with the help of your organization, or you can raise funding. To do that, you’ll need to make your idea very clear.
To find out how much it might cost to develop a doctor’s app, you’ll need to consult with several mobile development companies. In our experience, it takes short interviews with five to ten different development companies to find out whether they’re suitable for you in terms of price, mindset, communication style, and professional skills.
You can either work with a local development company or hire a team of developers abroad. The price can differ drastically.
Another option is to use an app builder to create a mobile application. Using an app builder is cheaper than creating a custom app from scratch. However, app builders are suitable only for small applications without complex functionality.
For example, if you want a branded hospital app that will just show your working hours, doctors’ profiles, and information about your hospital, a builder is for you. But if you’d like to create a telemedicine or fitness app, you should go custom.
Step 4: Build a product
Building a healthcare mobile app is a challenge that not every development company can take on. It requires strong development and security skills as well as planning. Let’s see what stages of development you’ll need to go through to create your own healthcare product.
Technical specification – This stage results in a document developed by a business analyst, who translates your ideas into digital solutions. A technical specification is a central document that describes your entire project, from the people who are responsible for development to all the features and security standards
UI/UX design – This stage makes sure your user experience design is clear and logical and that the interface is in line with your website or brand.
Preparation for development – Before development starts, programmers need to design the architecture of your app, create APIs, and set up the backend.
Development and quality assurance – Modern IT companies usually perform development and quality assurance almost simultaneously, allowing them to check small parts of code just after they’re written.
Deployment – This is when your app finally sees the world. Your app must comply with all rules of the App Store and Google Play Store in order to be successfully deployed.
Maintenance and support – If you want to attract new users to your app and keep existing ones, you’ll need to support it. This includes providing operating system and library updates, adding new features, and making product updates.
Step 5: Evaluate the market response
After you’ve deployed your application and gotten your first users, you need to evaluate their response. For this, you can use two main tools: app market reviews and analytics.
Analytics can provide you with valuable information about your app, users’ behavior, and users’ preferred functionality. You’ll be able to see any drawbacks through analytics and fix your app to cater to your patients’ needs.
Must-have features for an mHealth app
The set of features for your app strongly depends on the type of mHealth application you’re planning to create. However, there are a few features that are often included in healthcare applications for both doctors and patients. Let’s talk about them.
Onboarding – Tell users how to use your app to get the most out of it.
Sign in – Allow doctors to sign in with an ID from your hospital’s CRM. Patients should be able to log in with their phone numbers and emails. We don’t recommend using social media accounts for registration, as it may not be safe enough.
Analytics – Collect data on your app’s technical performance and user metrics. See how your audience grows, what they enjoy most, and what features they don’t find clear or useful. We recommend Fabric and Google Analytics for most mobile apps.
Push notifications – Inform users when it’s time to take their medicine, show health metrics, and remind patients about appointments.
Wearables support – Many apps, from fitness apps to applications for patient care, should be connected to wearables to track vitals like heart rate, blood pressure, and activity.
The healthcare industry continues to evolve, and mobile connectivity between different actors is a natural stage of this evolution. To build an app for doctors, patients, or insurance companies, you need to study the market, discover a problem that hasn’t already been addressed for your particular target audience, and solve it.
You can combine a mobile app with wearable technologies, your own CRM, or even machine learning and AI to make it truly smart.