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These days, everything is pretty much found online. With a touch of the screen, people have access to anything that they could wish for. However, one of the areas that is struggling with mobility is healthcare provision.
Currently, there is still a need to vastly improve healthcare app development. Truth be told, the costs of healthcare mobility are still high, so a healthcare app development company is often faced with the challenge to deliver services that is easier for society to afford. Thankfully, these days, the technologies developed through the continued growth of mobile communications make it possible to deliver cost-effective but improved services.
With the growth of app development, and the possibility of sale of apps, a healthcare app development company has several chances to be heard and enter the market easily. In fact, it has been estimated that over 1.7 billion users will have mobile health apps on their phones by 2018. This creates a huge opportunity for businesses to enter into the medical device industry through innovative healthcare app development.
Now, it may seem that creating healthcare apps is very similar to regular app development, there are some critical factors that need to be considered. Below are 10 critical factors that should be thought of before simply putting an app into the stores.
1. Patient privacy
Privacy is important in most mobile applications, but privacy of patient information in healthcare apps is extremely important. One cannot stress its importance hard enough. So it is a MUST to learn about several policies for the targeted audience. For instance, in the United States, the HIPAA or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requires that developers prevent unauthorized access to “Protected Health Information.” This means that patient information such as address, financial records, health records, and other details must be protected at all costs. It requires the use of state-of-the-art protection through passwords, education, data encryption, limited access, digital signatures, and all possible security measures.
2. Know the audience
One of the major mistakes a healthcare app development company makes is to simply assume what the people want. It is important to take into consideration the possible users and what their needs are. As what the late Steve Jobs once asserted, “Start with the customer experience and work back to the technology.”
Healthcare mobile apps should be consumer-driven, so there is a need to employ patient engagement efforts as well as satisfaction surveys in order to listen to what the public once. Too often, things end up wherein the development companies designed the app thinking that they knew what the patients want from their app. The fact is that simply creating and having an app is just not enough. It is a common pitfall of already developed apps that fail to engage patients due to failure in aligning the functionality and user experience with the needs and expectations of its users.
Never assume to know what is important to patients; there is no single formula for usability. In healthcare applications, it is more than just the design but also managing user expectations.
3. Simple, scalable, and sustainable designs
Much thought must be put into the design of the application. Ideally, it should be in modules so that when it is time for upgrades, developers can easily modify areas that need improvement and then put it back into the framework – given that these are not major changes into the infrastructure.
Design needs to be simple, so avoiding multiple interfaces that can be confusing for patients should be avoided. Simplicity needs to be observed especially in scheduling platforms, and integration with third party applications must be seamless so that it does not interfere so much with daily routines of patients. That way, patients do not feel limited or forced to adapt too much to new technologies other than the ones they are familiar with.
In addition, thought needs to be put in promoting scalability and sustainability. That way, developers can upgrade the app to accommodate new features and users, as having an out of date application will cause patients to abandon the app. Once they do abandon it, it becomes difficult to lure them back into using it.
4 Identify a problem to be solved
This is an important factor that needs to be addressed in developing mobile apps for healthcare. While regular app development can be done without solving anything, the key to having a successful mobile health application is to figure out what users need. So that the users will want to use the app.
A successful app is something that is going to help solve a problem patients have. For example, creating an app that provides the user with patient portal information is useful, but does not necessarily have added value. Now, if the app helps users on the go to access basic functions such as scheduling, providing information of patient flow in hospitals, then it becomes very useful for the patient.
Other possibilities might be insurance verification, payment of bills, lab results, among others. The goal is to make lives easier of the patient through the application, not simply providing them with features that they already know.
5. Information reliability and accuracy
Medical related applications have a huge burden to carry in terms of reliability and accuracy. Since this deals with the health and mostly lives of it is users, there is a need to have a high degree of accuracy especially when performing tests, providing data, and results.
Accuracy is extremely important in times when monitoring the health patterns of the patient, as well as automatically detecting symptoms and response to emergencies. Extensive testing needs to be performed so that proper responses are provided based on the user’s needs.
Reliability critically important, especially in emergency situations as users do not want applications failing on them when they need it the most.
6. Location tracking
For applications that enable tracking, it is critical to ensure that provisions to track their locations are put in place. The more detailed, the better. This is essential so that the information relayed can help aid the resources mobilize when in critical conditions. Plus, health monitoring during changes in the climate would be useful for the doctors.
As with anything, since location is being shared, there is an utmost need to ensure security that the information does not fall into the hands of outsiders. It would be wise to also inform the patients who are willing to use such an application, that they will be tracked should they choose to use it.
7. Analytics should be in place
The app must contain analytics features in order to help doctors keep an eye on the health history of the patient. The information needs to be available at any time in order to predict the receptiveness of the patient to diseases. This is especially important for cases with critical conditions.
Since healthcare app development usually focuses on tracking the health of the patient, it is important to have analytics in place. It is also beneficial for doctors to be able to see the nuances in the patient’s health. However, this all depends on what the application promises to do.
8. Ease of configuration
Another factor to consider when creating a healthcare application is the ease of configuration. It should not be too complicated to use, so that it is easily handled by all kinds of users, from patients to doctors. As much as possible, the application should run on commonly used devices, and less with complicated software. That way, patients are convinced and encouraged to continue using the app.
One of the things that is important to consider is the range of which the app is going to be used. With this in mind, ease of configuration and access can be taken into consideration, making the application suitable for all users.
9. Development considerations and regulation
Due to the many events involving medical devices and applications that end in death, medical devices and applications are regulated. Here are some considerations that help ensure that the device and applications are secure:
The healthcare app development lifecycle must comply with IEC/EN62304 requirements. Although there is a standard for applying different methodologies, in healthcare development, standard commercial methods will not suffice. Well-controlled and efficient documentation process is essential in order to get regulatory approval. If the users have special needs such as sensory impairments, there is also a standard to apply for these situations. For engineering, for example, it is IEC62366. This goes hand in hand with the understanding of what the needs are of the user. Understand how to apply risk management by complying with standards. This means that risks should be identified based on normal and faulty conditions, plus possibility of misuse.
Another factor that needs to be to be considered is making the app easy to be downloaded. Otherwise, it will go unused. There are several ways to distribute apps, but a healthcare app development company could make a single critical app that has a defined user group that is targeted via download link and comes with policies, and it would be successful.
Uploading the app on a private app store is also ideal as it would provide high levels of adoption, plus user experience, and analytics. Overall, understanding what is the best way to reach the users need careful consideration.
11. Understanding healthcare apps
A healthcare app development company needs to understand that creating a mobile app that caters to healthcare is more on consumer experience than healthcare experience. It is more than just creating an application to venture into mobile engagement.
Development of mobile healthcare apps require investments. When it is done correctly, it becomes an effective tool that users are able to use in order to enjoy effective experience. But if it is done incorrectly, then it could end up like any other application that is unused and forgotten.
Making successful healthcare apps Currently, there are thousands of mobile health related apps on the market for either platform. The difficulty in finding one that serves its target audience – either provider or patient – is a significant challenge. Thus, there is a need to ensure that critical factors are met. Otherwise, a single flaw could certainly mean a huge difference between a frequently used app, or an app that is uninstalled in an instant.
Healthcare apps have become rather important and crucial when it comes to promoting healthy lifestyles, daily fitness, and instant access to medical applications. It is not only helpful for patients, but doctors are also finding these applications to be useful in terms of eliminating possible shortcomings,excessive medical expenses, and provides quick fixes. In addition, these apps give hope when it helps speed up diagnosis, which in turn reduce the number of consultations.
With the heavy reliance on mobile healthcare apps, there is a heavy stress on ensuring that a higher quality version of the application, that is also well tested, is provided to the users.
Conduct some clinical studies that will help showcase the application. This will help prove that the app is effective in terms of benefit, and cost effective (e.g., helps reduce hospitalization). Work together with payers and regulators in order to effectively determine the app’s intended use as well as the indications for use. Security is of utmost importance, so it might help to ask third parties who specialize in data security to ensure that patients records are well protected. User acceptance tests may help in acquiring feedback for possible improvement prior to uploading or distribution to the stores. Testing is crucial for healthcare apps as it concerns the health and welfare of its users. Collected and stored information should be kept secure at all costs. Secure databases are just as important as security measures applied on the application itself. That way the system is never compromised and the patients can rest easy that their vital information is held safe.
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