• January
    21
    2021
  • 11 min read

Healthcare Mobile Apps for Patients—What They Are and How You Can Develop Your Own

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(with a real app developer)

There’s never been a better time to tap into the healthcare mobile app industry then today, in our COVID-19 reality where there’s such a high demand for remote services.

But even before the pandemic hit, the use of telehealth and telemedicine mobile apps have been growing and have become an increasingly attractive prospect for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

In this article, we’ll uncover the opportunities available in the healthcare mobile app industry and how you can develop and design one of your own.

Chapter #1: What are Healthcare Apps?

So what are healthcare apps and how exactly do they help patients?

Healthcare-related apps have soared in popularity in large part due to telemedicine.

Telemedicine involves leveraging technology like online communication and software to provide patients with health services without an in-person visit.

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For example, if you were to schedule an online Zoom call with your doctor to discuss a pain you’re feeling in your back, this kind of remote doctor visit is telemedicine (or also known as the broader term—telehealth).

You can imagine how these kinds of remote services have become so popular.

It gives patients easier and quicker access to their healthcare providers and it’s overall more comfortable and convenient.

So back to our question, what are healthcare apps?

Well, like telemedicine and telehealth, healthcare mobile apps exist to offer patients (and doctors) more comfort and convenience.

They offer a variety of services, from medicine delivery to virtual appointments.

All you need is your smartphone!

1.1 Why Healthcare Apps are Important

As mentioned, healthcare apps are beneficial because they offer comfort and convenience which are two ingredients the healthcare industry often lacks.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of healthcare apps:

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  • Patients can more easily receive their medications.
  • Patients can get access to expert advice without having to leave their homes.
  • They offer health services that are reliable and convenient
  • They offer a reliable source of information (like symptom information, healthcare tips, prescription details and more)
  • They offer the opportunity to expand patient care through remote services

Chapter #2 Popular Healthcare App Features

Healthcare mobile apps have been leveraging technology like CRM, cloud computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, etc in very powerful ways.

And every mobile app industry has their must-haves when it comes to features.

Let’s take a look at some popular features the best healthcare apps are offering doctors and patients.

2.1 Simple Registration and Login

Setting up your user registration and login should be an easy step in the app signup process.

This typically involves providing your name and contact information. The fewer steps involved, the better.

Healthcare app users should be able to login to their account quickly and easily.

Photo Credit: justinmind.com

2.2 Creating a Profile

Creating a profile should also be a simple process. 

Users should have the ability to upload a photo, add personal information, and other details to their profile that they would like to share.

For doctors, however, their profile should have more details than a patient, like their work experience, their area of expertise, contact details, and their practitioner information

Users should be able to make modifications to their profile with ease.

2.3 Finding, Selecting, and Booking Doctors

The top healthcare apps allow patients to easily search for doctors within the app based on a variety of filters, like reviews, specialization, consulting fees, and so on.

When searching for doctors, there should be relevant results.

Patients should also be able to select a doctor after applying filters and conducting a search, and book a consultation right from the app.

2.4 Appointment Management

Another great feature to include in a healthcare app is appointment management, especially if it’s the kind of app that connects patients to doctors.

Doctors should be able to receive requests (which they can accept or deny) and the patient should be able to receive notifications or confirmation emails with the consultation details.

2.5 Pill Reminders

Incorporating some form of prescription drug reminder is a great addition to healthcare mobile apps.

Some apps use push notifications to alert users about taking their medication, and others use emails or some other form of communication.

2.6 Cloud Management

Data can easily be stored with cloud computing, and it should!

Medical history, appointments, medical reports, order invoices—everything about a patient that has been provided through the app should be accessible anywhere and anytime with the proper authorization.

2.7 Remote Medical Assistance

Being able to receive medical assistance from your doctor without having to leave the house is an incredibly powerful app feature.

It saves patients time and is more convenient.

Some of the best mobile apps allow patients to contact their doctors via phone, text, or even video right from the app.

Doctors can check symptoms and help identify any medical issues the patient is having.

Patients can also receive next-step suggestions or other medical advice and guidance.

Chapter #3: Develop Your Own Healthcare App

There’s no denying it.

Healthcare is an incredibly profitable industry for mobile apps, and that trend isn’t going away.

Want to get in on the action?

Let’s take a look at how you can get started developing your own app.

3.1 Identify the Problem

No matter what kind of app you’re building, the first step is always to identify the problem you’re going to solve.

This is just one step in the app idea validation process. Other steps include conducting market research, creating user personas, testing prototypes and so on.

Remember, you want to learn everything you can about the problems you’re trying to solve with your app, and that involves getting out there and talking to people.

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Not just your target audience but also leaders in the industry.

Talk to doctors. Talk to nurses. Talk to patients.

Find the value your app can bring people.

3.2 Know Your Target Audience

The healthcare industry is pretty big and there are a lot of players involved.

There are doctors, patients, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, HIPAA, and so on.

Your app can’t be for everyone.

So who is it for?

Identify who your target audience is and then craft your app based on their needs.

What are their likes and dislikes?

PRO TIP:
The biggest mistake you can make when designing an app is to make assumptions about what’s important to your target audience.

3.3 Pay Attention to Design

When developing an app in the healthcare industry, it’s important to understand who your target audience is so you can create not only features that will solve their problems, but a cohesive user experience as well.

Imagine you have an older audience who will be using your app. 

Do you think they care about using an app with unique icons and an eccentric design?

Absolutely not! 

There is a time and place for getting creative with your designs, but when developing an app for an older audience, you need to create a user experience that is intuitive and seamless.

The symbols, icons, imagery, colors, and layout you use should make sense. It should feel familiar so that it’s easy to use.

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While you want your app to stand out from your competitors, think carefully about how you’ll implement UX and UI elements.

PRO TIP:
Always design for simplicity.

3.4 Test, Test, and Test Again

Every aspect of the development process should be tested.

When you’re in the beginning phases, start by testing out the different ways people can use your app.

Test out all of the features and functionality to see what works the best for your app.

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There is nothing more valuable than user feedback. Don’t wait until your app is built before having others take it for a test drive.

This can save you time and money, and it can help you plan future iterations of your app.

3.5 Determine What Technologies and Platforms to Use

When you’re setting out to develop your own healthcare app, an important step is to determine what technologies you’ll be using.

You’ll also want to consider what platforms your app should be available on.

All of this will depend greatly on who your target audience is.

For example, if you have an older target audience, it’s less likely that they use wearable technologies, like Fitbits and Smartwatches.

What platform does your target audience prefer?

iOS or Android?

Do your research so you don’t needlessly develop your app for the wrong platform or waste money developing for both.

As far as technologies go, what kind of tech is available that would benefit your app?

Will your app require the use of a camera so they can have video calls with their doctors?

Will your app benefit from a GPS tracker?

Will your app need to integrate with the iOS HealthKit?

Plan ahead so you can ensure your app is reaching its full potential.

3.6 Choose the Right Monetization Model

How do you plan on your app making money?

Will users pay to download it?

Will it require a monthly subscription?

Will it be free to use, with the option to upgrade and “unlock” certain features?

Remember, your app is a product, so think in advance about how you’ll be profiting from it.

This should be considered before development because a lot of your app’s design elements will go hand-in-hand with how it will be monetized.

While most apps in the market are free, many healthcare apps use a paid subscription model.

Think about what model will work best for your app and the services it offers.

3.7 Security and Privacy

While security and privacy are always important when creating an app, it’s especially so when creating healthcare apps.

This is because healthcare apps need to meet the requirements of current legislation.

Your app needs to comply with national and international privacy laws.

There are all kinds of rules when working with medical data that you’ll need to familiarize yourself with before developing your app.

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For example, you’ll need to obtain certifications through HIPAA—a federal law designed to protect patient data.

Chapter #4: Trends in Healthcare Mobile Apps

When you’re developing your app, you want to make sure you’re staying on top of the latest trends in technology.

What kind of tech is your competition using?

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What kind of tech could you leverage for your own app to create a better user experience?

Let’s take a look at what’s been trending in the healthcare industry.

4.1 VR and AR

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have mostly been associated with gaming, but they’ve shown a ton of potential in other industries.

AR, for example, can help create interactive experiences that show how medical devices and prescription drugs interact with the human body.

It can be used to help illustrate complex treatments to patients.

AR and VR can offer a better way to engage with both patients and healthcare staff.

4.2 AI

Artificial intelligence is already used in many apps in the market, including healthcare.

It’s used for a variety of medical tasks, like diagnosing diseases, analyzing medical record data, prescribing treatments, visualizing images of ultrasounds, and so much more.

How can you leverage AI in your app?

You can also use AI in a more simple way, with AI-powered chatbots.

These chatbots can help gather basic information, ask questions, and connect patients with doctors.

4.3 Blockchain

Blockchain technology is used for managing complex operations and creating databases.

It’s mostly associated with cryptocurrency but it also has its place in healthcare.

Blockchain is used to manage digital health records, monitor patients remotely, help facilitate insurance and billing procedures, conduct biomedical and clinical research, and analyze medical data.

Photo Credit: civilsdaily.com

Final Thoughts

Developing a healthcare mobile app is an exciting endeavor.

You can use trends in technology and popular features to deliver an exceptional app your users will love.

In our Simple Starter package, we bring your ideas to life with a complete technical writeup, which serves as a blueprint for your app’s development, wireframe sketches to show you want your app will look like in action, and thorough market research on the healthcare industry and your users.

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