In this tech savvy world, technology is the one who has brought us closer to industry segments, one big domain being the healthcare units. “Health is wealth” – so do we all believe and so do healthcare service providers too.
The healthcare industry has benefited by leaps and bounds owing to implementation of multifaceted healthcare IT solutions and services. Healthcare app development is seeing increased demand all over, resulting in increased collaboration between healthcare providers, clinicians, government health sections, doctors, insurance companies and patients.
Just have a look at the below statistics:
- 93% of physicians believe that mobile health apps can improve patient’s health
- mHealth technology market is set to grow by 33% to USD 60 bn by 2020
- 74 percent of patients say using mobile apps wearables and other mHealth tools helps them cope with and manage their conditions
Self-explanatory, isn’t it? Healthcare apps are in vogue now, no longer a luxury, but an indispensable ingredient in the healthcare industry.
Let us have a glance at what the healthcare industry focuses on and needs, in terms of technological solutions:
Requirements & Challenges Of The Healthcare Industry
The healthcare industry is a happening zone – so many activities amongst so many stakeholders. Here are some of the challenges they regularly face:
- Patients waiting in long queues, wasting a lot of time
- Instant availability of information about patients, cases, medical inventory, stock, doctors’ schedules, bold tests, medical investigations and more
- Integrated, portable and secure access to information, anywhere, anytime
- User authentication and access to limited and role wise information
- Real-time operational visibility across stakeholders
This industry needs tailor-made and specific IT solutions that can address these issues and help overcome them.
And that is what Healthcare application development aims at!
Types of Healthcare Apps
Technically, Apps Could Be:
Mobile Apps – Apps that execute on mobile devices, available to users all the time
Web Apps – App that runs on the mobile web, accessible through browsers of mobile devices
Depending upon the need, infrastructure, budget and organizational objectives, it could be decided which one to opt for.
Functionally, Apps Could Be Classified As:
Emergency Apps – Especially meant for emergency situations, embedded with life saving options, understanding the criticality of the situation
Reminders / Tracking Apps – Meant mainly for those who have a habit of forgetting their medicine schedule. Maintains schedule of medication and tracks the same
Lifestyle Apps – Helps in maintaining a healthy lifestyle by offering multiple features such as diet charts, calorie consumption, exercise regimes, fitness schedules, doctor appointments etc.
Electronic Medical Health Record Apps – These apps are mainly meant for storing medical records of patients that are given by doctors, hospitals and other authorities like insurance companies
Patient – Doctor App – This app is mainly to facilitate the interaction between the doctor and the patient. Good for the patient since there is no need to wait for hours together. Good for the doctor since there is no need to be physically present and can send online advices too. Though this app may not always serve to be ideal in case of complex health conditions, it is best for common issues.
Key Features Of An Ideal Healthcare Application (Web/Mobile)
The list seems endless as we talk about features that a healthcare web app or healthcare mobile app should showcase. But there are certain features that are a must for it to get successfully accepted and implemented. Here are they:
- Live / Real-time Chat & Video Calling is a must for patients to interact with doctors instantly. It gives a great deal of support to worried patients and at the same time, offers healthcare service providers breathing space to work further.
- Easy and Secure Payment Integration methods need to be there. After all, it’s a matter of health and a friendly interface for patients to smoothly handle the payment process.
- Navigational Support is a must. Especially when it comes to going to the medical center in case of emergency, the geolocation support would really help. Facilities like Google Maps are a boon.
- Notifications and Alerts are needed for patients who aren’t that regular in taking their medicines or keep forgetting about their next scheduled visit.
- Regular Feedback Monitoring is a must for service providers to keep improvising on their grey areas and thereby, enhance their quality of service.
- Remote Location Supervising caters to those patients who aren’t physically linked or near to the main healthcare unit but need urgent attention.
- Chatbots will lead to faster response to patients, creating increased trust in the service provider. With the help of machine learning algorithms, chatbots can prove to be an equivalent to human assistance.
- Thorough Documentation is a great necessity especially for newcomers to understand and implement the app instantly.
- Instant Check-In for patients leads to lesser waiting time and faster execution of treatment.
Healthcare Application Development – How Can It Help?
- Automation of Processes
The major objective of any technology transformation is automating day to day processes and that is what healthcare app development does, when implemented. Most processes in the healthcare unit gets automated and thereby reduces the workload on different stakeholders, in their own capacity. Information gets stored in respective places, with efficiency and security.
- Cost and Time Savings
Automation of processes, correct storage and retrieval of information, effective usage of resources etc. are reasons good enough to save big on cost and time factor. Doctors and patients can avail the latest information from anywhere, anytime, to the extent of online consultation, if needed. Even other authorities like administration, insurance agents, pharmacy stores, pathology laboratories can benefit a lot with healthcare apps.
- Availability to Instant Information
Healthcare apps are apt for making information accessible to individuals instantly and with accuracy. Even remote areas can have access to these apps and thereby avail respective services, as allotted by their healthcare service provider. Availability of information is irrespective of day or night.
- Enhanced Effectiveness & Productivity
Since healthcare apps offer secure, instant and good quality services, there is increase in effectiveness of working by all involved. Overall, the efficiency levels of the entire service provider team are bound to increase multi-fold, since they save big time on manual processes. Doctors and other authorities can focus on their area of work rather than bothering about taking care of administration and manual chores. Hence, productivity increases to a large extent as the doctors don’t need to manage manual documents and can handle all record digitally.
- Worldwide Expanse
With digitization and healthcare apps, the sky is the limit. There is no barrier stopping patients from one country consulting doctors of another. Facilities like video chatting, live chats, audio calls etc. are just a click away. The only thing required is Internet facility.
- Faster Decision Making
Doctors are in look for quick and detailed information about their patients and preferably all at the same time. Manually, it is almost impossible to achieve that. Healthcare apps are competent enough to offer all these combination of information to doctors resulting in faster decision making.
- Higher Level of Engagement
Healthcare apps that are related to fitness, exercise, diet etc. assist users in engaging deeply into fitness and health related activities. Regular alerts and notifications are sent via the app to remind users of their regimes, medicines, food intake etc.
- Seamless Integration with Medical Devices
Owing to the salient features of the Healthcare apps, integrating different medical devices with the app is secure and feasible. Connectivity could be done through different protocols like NFC, Bluetooth, WiFi and more.
- Inventory Management of Drugs, Assets, Medicines
Automated processes of inventory management could be quite helpful with implementation of healthcare apps. The stock taking of medicines, inventory management, supply and demand etc. are well managed and full proof.
- Abiding by HIPAA Set of Standards
This healthcare app helps healthcare service providers in abiding by the set standards of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Proper physical, network and process security regulations are kept in place.
- Reduced Medical Expenses and Risk Taking
Because of the healthcare app, there is a reduction in irrelevant medical expenses. Certain things are managed easily through the app. Even correct diagnosis is done, leaving the risk of wrong diagnosis behind.
- Gain Access to Urgent Care
Finding out a good doctor in your proximity, whenever there is an urgent need becomes quite easy and secure with healthcare apps. Gone is the time when patients used to suffer owing to late visit by doctor or reaching the hospital late. These apps collaborate with nearby medical centres to offer instant help and guide to the best possible solution.
- Bringing in Newer Business Avenues
Moving way ahead from the traditional way of operations, these healthcare apps help the stakeholders in building and managing newer business models that can lessen the gap between the patients and doctors, administrators and management and more. It also becomes easier for healthcare industries to reach out to more patients and thereby increase their spread. At the same time, patients find it easy to reach out to immediate and best medical advice. In short, it’s a gain-gain situation for both. Also, app integration with latest technologies like AI, Blockchain, IoT etc. is viable and leading to a successful implementation.
- Multi-language Support
Sometimes, patients find it tough to contact doctors and communicate in different language. Most healthcare apps have an inbuilt language translator that can help understand the unknown language with ease.
- Support for Wearable Devices
Wearables are the in-thing today. Healthcare apps are competent enough to seamlessly integrate with Wearables and transfer necessary data from the device to the app, to leverage its best. Wearables have important health information like pulse rate, blood pressure etc. that can be considered of use to the app.
- Reaching Out to the Common People
Healthcare apps are not just meant for patients who aren’t well or who need medical advice. Certain focussed healthcare apps are meant for the common audience, who take their health seriously and wish to monitor it regularly. Apps like fitness apps, meditation apps, insurance apps, water intake apps etc. are especially for health enthusiasts.
Key Reasons Why Healthcare Apps May Fail
- Cluttered and Poor User Experience may lead to utter confusion amongst patients
- Lack of proficiency in the healthcare domain may create an output not needed for
- Noncompliance to privacy rules as suggested by HIPAA may lead to legal issues on a later stage
- Insufficient or haphazard testing of the healthcare app may not yield best of results as an output
- Mismanagement of security of private and confidential information can lead to a disaster
- Not being able to cope up with market trends, latest technological moves can lead to the app being outdated soon
- Getting the right kind of investors, management and IT service provider is a tough task, failing which the healthcare app may not give the expected output
Best Practices For An Effective Healthcare Application
The above challenges are inevitable but there are certain key guidelines that can be taken care of, right from the beginning of the healthcare app creation. These best practices can help business owners stay away from these challenges or at least minimize its effect to a large extent.
- Complying to HIPAA Standards
While building the app itself, the HIPAA norms and regulations must be incorporated for each feature so that there is no non-compliance later. All the physical, network and process security mechanisms must be studied and analysed way before. The privacy and security compliance factors must be analysed and worked upon, prior to setting up the app structure.
- Understand Exact Requirement of App
Healthcare is a huge and wide segment. There is so much that can be included in the healthcare app. Hence, it is imperative for business owners to analyse what exactly do they look for, in their healthcare app, what are their expectations, who is their target audience, what is their budget and timelines etc.
- Extract the List of Functionalities to be Included
Once you know what type of an app you need, identify all the functionalities that you need in the app. This is crucial since there are so many you would want but may not be feasible all the time. When it comes to features and transactions / reports, each business user has a different perspective. Hence, it is important to understand the need, jot it down and then proceed.
- Work Upon Hardware and Software Infrastructure
There is a plethora of operating systems, mobile devices, browsers and platforms available across. It needs to be thought upon if your healthcare app should be working on each one of them or which ones should it support! It is a tough call. You may not be able to please all users but should try to reach out to maximum audience possible, by choosing the most used hardware, platform and OS.
- Have a Simple, Stylish and Appealing UI / UX
After all, the UI / UX is the first-hand impression that any end user has. While operating the healthcare app, the user must feel comfortable, trustworthy, confident and secure. And for that to happen, the user interface and user experience design must be classy, non-cluttered, secure and visually appealing.
- Choose the Best Programming Language and Framework for Your App
There are many available, but what suits you best is the ideal choice for you, when it comes to selecting the programming language and framework for building the app. Hence, based on the budget, skills, expertise, user groups and requirements, business owners can choose their needed technology groups.
Healthcare Apps – The Future Is Bright
Looking at the pace healthcare apps are ruling the healthcare industry, the future has a lot in store. In the coming time, there could be newer advancements that may not have been even thought of today. Here are some of the futuristic trends that look promising, for healthcare apps:
- Healthcare wearable devices
- Special medical apps for doctors
- Fitness oriented apps
- Integration with AI, IoT, ML, AR, VR
- Cloud based healthcare monitoring
- Voice assistance and chatbots
- Medical apps combined with entertainment
- Integration with BI and Big Data
On A Wrapping Note
Healthcare mobile apps and web apps are the need for today and the future. They are a blessing for all involved – doctors, patients, administrators, pharmacists, hospital staff and more. With our health as the prime center of focus, the need for robust, effective and secure healthcare app development is a must.
And for that to happen successfully, the presence of an experienced healthcare IT solution and service provider is a must. The healthcare industry is seeing a technological revolution, and there is much more in its kitty. Wait and watch as the Pandora’s box opens!
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