The popularity of healthcare apps has sky-rocketed ever since the Covid19 pandemic has rocked the world. Even today, as the situation is improving, and people are getting back to their normal lives; the popularity of healthcare apps is on the rise. It seems that patients, doctors, and healthcare service providers around the globe have got accustomed to the convenience of healthcare digitalization. Undoubtedly, this trend is here to stay!
Consequently, the healthcare app development sector is booming and has become a lucrative arena for businesses to invest in. However, developing an impeccable healthcare app involves tons of complexities, unique requirements, and challenges. It also requires experience, innovation, and expertise. In this post, I have penned down a step-by-step guide that provides insights about the entire roadmap to follow while designing a healthcare application.
Healthcare App Development Checklist
Define Your App’s Value Proposition
Select a niche of the healthcare industry your app will cater to and thereafter, identify the target audience of that niche. Now, you must research extensively to comprehend the basic requirements of your targeted customers and learn about the unique pain areas that your app can resolve. You can also conduct interviews and surveys to get into the core of the problems that existing apps could not solve and learn what customers actually want from healthcare apps. If you gain a thorough understanding of the aforesaid aspects, you will be able to build an app that is really useful, valuable, and beneficial to your potential consumers.
You must also carry out competitor analysis research. This way, you can find out the grave mistakes made by your competitors and the reasons why healthcare apps fail. You’ll also come to know about the must-have features that all medical apps offer, additional app features that are popular with consumers, and also the functionalities that no one else has offered before. Make sure to include the basic features and extra features preferred by customers. Brainstorm to figure out some novel functionality that will make your app unique, noticeable, and help you to stand out amongst competitors.
Decide on the Business Model
The resources and partners needed for healthcare application development depend on the business model adopted – D2C or B2B2C. If you opt for a D2C (Direct-to-Customer) model, your app will directly deliver services to consumers. This business model may or may not need to team up with a technology partner. But, if you are not partnering with healthcare development services, you need to outsource technology expertise via extended engineering teams. For a B2B2C (Business to Business-to-Customer) healthcare app, it is advisable to partner with an experienced healthcare app development company that will provide end-to-end services.
Digital healthcare services can be delivered to users via multiple engagement channels like mobile apps, custom healthcare software, web portals, etc. So, you need to decide on the engagement channel that will best suit your healthcare app development objectives.
You need to obtain professional services from third parties for your healthcare mobile app depending on the type of functionalities and services your app offers. Usually, healthcare apps need services from practitioners, caregivers, testing/imaging labs, emergency medical services, and so on. For example, a telemedicine app needs remote doctor consultation services while an app that measures health vitals like heart rate, blood glucose levels, blood pressure, etc. needs a secure cloud storage service from an external provider.
Healthcare App development Resources
Now, you need to decide on the resources – in-house team, freelance developers, or offshore teams. So far, outsourcing software development to offshore teams has been the most profitable and productive approach.
Crucial Healthcare App Development Considerations
Unmatched UI/UX Design
A UI that is not user-friendly and a cumbersome UX frustrates users leading to the discontinuation of your app usage, no matter how outstanding it is. The reason is that users have the flexibility to choose from several other apps offering similar features. Contrarily, a simple design will enable users to effortlessly navigate through your app. It will help users find the desired functionality at once thereby enhancing user experience. New-age users look for an intuitive interface and seamless user experience in a healthcare app and employing gamification to sustain user interest is icing on the cake. To create such a UI/UX design, both front-end and back-end healthcare app developers must work collectively with proper co-ordination. Furthermore, make your app design responsive and conduct testing on how your app will look on different device screens. Lastly, your app should be visually attractive with pleasing aesthetics.
Selecting the platform for your healthcare app development project is an important and tricky task to accomplish – native Android, iOS, or a cross-platform app? The choice of platform is dependent on factors like app functionalities, the timeline of the project, the preferences of targeted audiences, and the budget allocated for the project.
iOS devices are more popular amongst users located in North America and Western Europe whereas Android devices are popular in other regions of the globe. Building apps that cater to both Android and iOS is also a good option as it helps you to reach out to a wider range of audiences.
Emerging Technology Stacks and Ongoing Market trends
Innovations driven by emerging technologies are frequenting the healthcare industry landscape. This has resulted in high customer expectations from a medical app; they are not ready to settle down for anything less. Therefore, healthcare app developers must be aware of the most recent mHealth app development market trends, the cutting-edge technologies required to implement those trends, and the best practices for integrating them. The most trending technologies in healthcare include IoT, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, 5G, virtual reality, integrated payment gateways, big data & analytics, etc.
It is very important for a healthcare app to adhere to regulatory compliances as it handles sensitive patient information that is vulnerable to security threats. The US has mandated HIPAA compliance for all medical solutions while Europe enforces GDPR. Let’s take a look at crucial aspects concerning HIPAA compliance.
The main objective of HIPAA is to ensure the security of patients’ personal information, clinical research data, and other important information of a healthcare entity. Implementing HIPAA regulations revolve around limiting medical data access, encrypting data using standard methodologies, and creating a data backup mechanism.
For example, access to a patient’s personal information and medical/diagnostic data can be provided only to users in specific roles like the physicians, specialists, or medical staff handling that particular patient. Healthcare app developers need to employ reliable protocols for data encryption and multi-factor authentication to secure sensitive information. Also, the IT department of a healthcare organization must maintain multiple copies of collected healthcare data on different servers, so that data can be easily restored in events of data crashes, errors, or system failures. And, in case of any alert received, it must be addressed without delay.
Choose a Suitable App Monetization Strategy
If you are of the opinion that charging for healthcare app downloads is the easiest and best revenue model available, you’re mistaken. It has been observed that most of the successful applications in the app store are free for download. Moreover, customers are reluctant to download a paid app unless the app has proved its capabilities as a bestseller or promises game-changing offerings. Nevertheless, there are multiple effectual app monetization strategies that would fetch revenue without affecting the number of downloads. Check them out!
Fee for Registration or Subscription
An app that is free to download can generate a steady flow of revenue through subscription or registration. Take a look at this example of an appointment scheduling app. The app owner can provide free access to patients but charge a registration fee from the doctors, wellness trainers, etc. who wish to utilize their free slots using the platform. This registration fee can be either a one-time charge or a monthly fee. Another instance is providing app users free access to every feature for a fixed duration, say six months. Once the free trial ends, the users need to pick a subscription plan and pay for the services received. The subscription can involve monthly, quarterly, or yearly payment plans. This strategy works well if your app is able to provide value-added customer services and the fees charged are not too high.
Freemium is a popular app revenue model. Two versions of the same app are available for users – a free version offering the basic features and a premium version that offers additional functionalities besides the ones available in the free version. The main objective is to allow users to enjoy the free features and provide them with elevated experiences and lucrative offers; so that they are convinced to try the goodies of the paid version.
Content and Data Monetization
An app owner can sell anonymous healthcare data collected from users to insurance firms, pharma companies, and fitness experts. This data is leveraged to draw insights, predict ongoing trends, and many more such tasks. The only aspect to keep in mind is that no personally identifiable data can be disclosed.
If a healthcare app provides certified medical content to healthcare practitioners and staff, the owner can allow access to certain sections of the content for free and charge a subscription fee for accessing more content. This model succeeds if the content is highly informative & valuable, and helps medical professionals to stay updated on the most recent advancements in medicine, treatment, etc.
Localized in-app Advertisements
Having localized ads within the app is a tried and tested revenue model. App owners can partner with brands that provide ad localization by using beacons, GPS, or WiFi. A user’s current location is tracked and a user receives a push notification about any discount on frequently bought items or popular products, whenever they are within close vicinity of the store.
Sponsorship and promotions
If your healthcare app enjoys a huge customer base and promises high levels of customer engagement, other brands or third parties can leverage your platform to advertise their products and services by paying a sponsorship fee to you. Sponsors’ ads and promotional offers can be included on the flash screen. The sponsors’ logo can be displayed on the header or footer of your app. This strategy would be more effective if the sponsors belong to the medical sector and share similar groups of target audiences. This way, the promotional ads will appeal to your customers and not irritate them. For instance, a mHealth app can generate revenue by displaying the promotional offer by a healthcare service that is announcing discounted offers on lab tests.
In-app purchase is the most widely used monetization strategy in medical application development. Here, you can make use of your app as a marketplace to sell self-owned products or even products owned by a different brand. Selling extra services is also trending. Say, for example, fitness app users can buy additional workout sessions while mHealth app users can pay for prescription refilling or buying supplements. However, the products/services offered for sale must be relevant to the needs of the app’s users.
The concept of gamification in healthcare app development might surprise you! Today, healthcare apps come with innovative offerings like integrating games to help users adhere to timely medication and exercise regimes. Gamification also benefits adults with children as games can engage kids in the best possible way while the treatment is going on. And, offering paid gamification elements can fetch revenue as well.
Build an MVP
It’s not a good idea to build a full-fledged application in one go. Why? This approach will consume a great deal of your time, & money, and worst, you might make a lot of mistakes that will be too costly to rectify later on. Hence, most businesses go for MVP development at first and then, iterate it gradually. The MVP approach allows you to validate your app idea, identify the errors and resolve them before it’s too late, and reap the benefits of faster deployment and cost-effective development. Moreover, you get enough time to figure out the missing elements of your app as well as the customer requirement; so that you can update your app accordingly. Furthermore, this strategy allows you to catch up with emerging trends by rolling out updates at the right time.
For MVP development, you need to prioritize the feature set that you will implement such that the selected features solve some problems encountered by the targeted audience. Do not forget to include the essential features like profiles of doctors & patients, health cards for patients, chats, calendars, notifications, alerts, surveys, reviews & rating section, etc. Also, ensure that your MVP is HIPAA compliant.
Healthcare App Development Cost
Well, this part is quite tricky! The cost of healthcare app development entirely depends on factors like the number of features, the complexity of functionalities, and the resources involved. The app development expenses may greatly vary depending on the project requirement. Here’s an approximate cost estimation: $25,000 for an MVP, $80,000 for an app with a basic feature set, and $120,000 for an app with complex/advanced features.
Over to You:
I hope this post was informative and has helped you to understand all the nitty-gritty of healthcare app development. However, healthcare app development is a complex task to accomplish and can be challenging for newbies. If you are a start-up, it is advisable to partner with an experienced app development service provider and build an MVP at first. You can add new features gradually through periodic updates.