As modern life demands a greater standard of digital health technology, the healthcare app space is becoming increasingly competitive — and lucrative.
Research shows that the mHealth app market was worth $40.05 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $149.3 billion by 2028.
If these figures make you want to launch your own app idea, read on for our essential healthcare app development guide.
What is a Healthcare App?
Much of our life has migrated onto our digital devices, and health & wellbeing is no exception.
Therefore, a healthcare app is a digital application that helps users manage certain aspects of their health. This could be prescription ordering, fitness tracking, or telehealth through their digital devices.
The popularity of telehealth, in particular, has surged since the Coronavirus pandemic began. Many patients have been forced to receive consultations remotely, from the safety of their homes, to reduce the spread of the virus while managing symptoms.
Telehealth apps facilitate doctor-patient consultations via in-app messaging or video calls. While the pandemic brought telehealth to the mainstream, the benefits extend beyond infection control.
Telehealth apps are convenient for both medical professionals and patients and reduce the likelihood of patients skipping their scheduled appointments.
What Are the Typical Features of a Healthcare Mobile App?
The features of healthcare apps are vast and varied, ranging from MyFitnessPal’s calorie lookup to Lloyds Pharmacy’s online doctor survey.
There are many healthcare apps on the market, so it’s essential to define your USP, both for clarity of marketing communications and efficient app design.
Healthcare apps typically offer users access to a personal account that tracks or stores their healthcare data. In addition, they may:
- Make health data gathering more efficient
- Improve communication between patients and healthcare professionals
- Reduce the risk of medical mistakes
- Provide remote care
- Increase hospital/GP surgery efficiencies
- Boost customer loyalty
Why Develop a Healthcare App?
But the COVID-19 pandemic brought a whole new backdrop to healthcare technology. In a post-2020 world, healthcare apps are no longer desirable; they’re essential.
This app-centric approach to pandemic recovery has made large parts of the population more digitally-minded regarding health.
And it’s not just about millennials anymore. In a survey, 71% of patients said they preferred their doctors to use a mobile healthcare app.
The popularity of medical apps is reflected in its market size, valued at over $40 billion before the pandemic. And it’s projected to reach nearly $100 billion by the end of this year.
How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Healthcare Mobile App?
While it’s difficult to put a hard and fast figure on this kind of development work, it’s important to understand the development requirements to gauge the level of work involved.
Robust healthcare apps should:
- Talk to your patient database or CRM
- Securely store patient data in compliance with any necessary governing regulations, such as the GDPR and Data Protection Acts
- Look attractive and be easy to use
- Be responsive to different devices and operating systems
Estimates can range anywhere from $10,000 to $450,000, so you must speak to a trusted development company and discuss their deliverables according to your objectives.
That said, we strongly encourage you to work with developers who you believe will build you the best product based on a solid track record within this sector.
You don’t want to opt for the cheapest developer on price alone and end up paying twice to compensate someone else for fixing their work.
Considerations When Developing a Healthcare App
1. Blockchain Technology in Healthcare
Though blockchain technology is often synonymous with cryptocurrency, it’s gaining popularity within healthcare app development.
Don and Alex Tapscott are world-leading authorities on the impact of technology on business and society.
They define blockchain as an “incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Blockchain technology offers a new way of organizing data that groups data into chunks (blocks) chained together. When new data is added, a new block is formed and chained to the existing ledger. This system removes the need for third-party data editing as all current information is maintained and simply added to. Each block is given a timestamp of when it’s added to the chain.
Blockchain technology is a desirable feature in medical app development where transparency and security are of the utmost importance, but that’s not all.
Healthcare Weekly offers examples of where Blockchain has already made positive impacts on healthcare technology through:
- Owning and sharing medical data
- Clinical trials and consent management
- Micropayments and small awards that are given to patients for adhering to medical treatment plans
- Blockchain solutions that record health products information in the supply chain
- Data security
- Fraud prevention
- Customer payments
2. Integrating Your App Within the Healthcare Ecosystem
All medical healthcare apps should integrate with the existing healthcare ecosystem: the structure of medical records and information already in use via government bodies and hospitals.
The benefits of using electronic health records include tracking data over time, monitoring the quality of care, and identifying patient care needs.
Integrating with electronic health records is essential if you’re offering a telehealth service, where healthcare professionals need to add to existing records via the app.
Failure to sync up with electronic health records could result in redundant app features or duplication of recording, which in turn, can lead to medical discrepancies.
The WellDoc digital health platform suggests that when integrating your app with electronic health records, you should consider the following development objectives:
- Eliminating redundancies between the systems, such as having multiple entry fields for the same data
- Securing multiple environments while permitting the systems to talk to each other
- The availability of support teams who are familiar with the systems
- The usability of patient-facing apps on as many devices as possible
- The ability for apps to run with limited data or internet connection
Are you hoping to build an app for the sole purpose of revenue building? Most health tech start-ups will answer yes to this question. However, more established businesses may consider app development as an added customer loyalty feature.
If monetization is your main priority, consider the best way to go about this. In the healthcare space, the most common monetization model is a subscription one. This relies on the convenience of having personal user data available in one place.
Alternatively, most apps offer a free trial before requiring payment once the trial is over. Avoid paywall models. Users want to feel the tangible benefits of a digital service before committing financially.
4. Multi-phase Development
When you’re passionate about your solution to a common user problem, it’s easy to get carried away and attempt to revolutionize digital healthcare with your first iteration.
However, this is seldom a smart way to work. Consider multi-phase development, beginning with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and iterate from there.
Your MVP should be a simple app with a few core functionalities. Creating an MVP will help you get your technology in front of users more quickly, as it will be simpler and cheaper to build.
There are several benefits to this approach:
- Firstly, the MVP development process will force you to establish your USP functionality and prevent you from creating an app that’s too ambitious with undefined benefits.
- Secondly, the earlier you get it in front of users, the earlier you can start collecting feedback and improving your features.
- Finally, launching with an MVP will allow you to test messaging around your USP and see whether this resonates with your target audience before bringing a full iteration to market.
5. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
Unless you have clear data to suggest your audience uses a specific device, your app should work across various devices and operating systems. A PWA is an application with a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes and systems.
If you intend your app to be used by various demographics, age groups, income statuses, and healthcare needs, a PWA will favor your goal.
The reason being: different audience segments prefer different devices. Simple. Using a PWA may also slightly reduce your development time.
PWAs can help deliver a cohesive experience across devices. This is particularly important within healthcare technology as consistency encourages user trust and brand recognition.
The reality is that we live in an omnichannel world, and users will likely encounter your technology across different devices and operating systems.
PWAs also require less data than native apps. A native app that consumes 10MB of data will use just 500KB with a PWA.
Why Outsource Healthcare App Development?
1. Knowledge of the Market Share
Outsourcing development to health tech specialists will be key to ensuring your app is valuable and deliverable.
Experts in the field have an understanding of the market. They know what else is out there and whether your proposition directly responds to everyday user needs. Plus, they’ll be able to advise the most appropriate functionality and manage expectations.
2. Level of Expertise
The most used contemporary apps offer great user experiences. Still, the healthcare industry is notoriously under-advanced in its technology due to the complex data collection and protection required to provide a smooth user experience.
New findings by Accenture show that while 66 of the 100 largest American hospitals offer patient health apps, only 2% of patients use them.
Outsourcing your healthcare app development puts your technology in the hands of industry experts and gives it the best chance of being well-used.
3. Performance and Appearance Driven
While slick performance is essential, the app also needs to look good to stand out in an overcrowded app store (there were 47,140 mHealth apps available on the Google play store during the third quarter of 2020).
What’s more, 21% of millennials will delete apps from their home screen if they don’t look desirable.
A strong digital partner will prioritize both performance and appearance. Standalone developers often focus solely on one or the other due to time constraints.
Seek a team that will carry out all the necessary work to ensure your product is as user-friendly as possible.
Why Outsource to S-PRO?
The development team here at S-PRO specializes in product development for technology-based companies.
We also boast highly qualified subject matter experts with experience in developing healthcare technology.
And in addition to our in-depth knowledge in this field, we work in a way that harnesses intelligence and design excellence.
You can expect three key phases when working with S-PRO:
- Product Discovery Phase: Our team collects and analyzes data around your project, market, and target demographics to define your USP and scope out development. This stage helps CTOs and project leads gather proof of key user benefits to back up their earlier assumptions. This phase also offers several clear deliverables — a must when bringing an app to market.
- Product Design Phase: This subsequent phase is a complex multi-step process covering engineering, management, and graphic design. The product design phase also defines the specific tasks your product will handle, providing a comprehensive understanding of what the final product will look and feel like.
- Product Engineering Phase: Finally, our team establishes the roadmap and creates efficient projects supported by the latest technologies and industry standards.