A Guide to Healthcare Mobile App Development

9 min read
Healthcare Mobile App Development


In recent years, there has been a boom in the number of mobile medical apps. Statista projects the market — which had a value of $2.4 billion in 2017 — will increase to $11 billion by 2025. There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the demand for telemedicine and virtual healthcare services. 

Apart from that, people are becoming more health-conscious, which leads to an increased use of health and fitness apps. In fact, 25% of healthcare mobile app users in the US use paid apps. 

However, that doesn’t mean all and every healthcare mobile app will sell. The app you create must offer an excellent user experience, comply with regulations (e.g., HIPAA), and have a solid marketing plan. Let’s learn more about healthcare mobile app development based on these criteria.

The Healthcare Mobile App Landscape

A quick look at the healthcare software market will tell you that you’re up against many competitors. In the Q3 of 2023, the Google Play Store had 54,546 medical health apps, whereas the Apple App Store had 41,517.

So, when undergoing healthcare mobile app development, your first concern is the fierce competition. You have to break through the noise by offering something different and innovative. 

Besides competition, you also need to focus on user experience. Your app isn’t a game or a social media platform but a tool that people will use to manage their health. It will understandably warrant more caution and attention to detail. Any bugs or glitches could have serious consequences for your end users. Other important considerations in healthcare mobile app development include: 

Regulatory Compliance and Data Security

When you do or build something in the healthcare industry, you must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Some entities covered by HIPAA include medical professionals and providers, health plans, and healthcare organizations. The law also applies to healthcare mobile apps. 

If you’re new to this term, HIPAA is a federal law protecting patient health information from disclosure without their consent or knowledge. It also outlines requirements for handling and securing this type of data. The components of this law include: 

  • Healthcare data standardization 
  • Insurance portability 
  • Discrimination and fraud avoidance 
  • Personal Health Information (PHI) security 

If your in-house development teams have taken on the app development task, you must train them on HIPAA regulations. Similarly, if you outsource your project to dedicated software development services, ensure that the third party and relevant business associates are HIPAA-compliant. 

Data security is also of utmost importance in custom healthcare software development. You must make provisions for entity authentication and access controls in your app. Some authentication methods proposed by HIPAA are: 

  • Password 
  • Biometric (e.g., face ID) 
  • Physical security (e.g., badge scanners) 
  • Personal Identification Number (PIN)

You must ensure the security of the PHI your app’s network transmits. For instance, the HTTPS protocol offers SSL/TLS encryption. Simply put, the health-related information is converted into inane characters and transmitted over the web, making it impossible for anyone to intercept them. You should use a protocol of this type for all app pages containing PHI. 

User-Centric Design and Patient Engagement

Besides compliance, healthcare mobile app developers should focus on user-centric design and patient engagement. Keep in mind that your target audience is already dealing with a stressful situation. You don’t want your app to add to their worries. 

A user-centric design means the app should be tailored for easy use by patients. If it’s for healthcare providers, it must allow easy access to electronic health records (EHRs) and patients’ medical history. Similarly, an app for patients should have a simple interface and use simple language. 

Patient engagement is another crucial aspect of healthcare mobile app development. The goal is to involve patients in their care and promote self-management. The good news is that if your app is user-centric, it will likely drive patient engagement. If people find an app easy to use, they will be more likely to continue using it. 

Types of Healthcare Apps

When we discuss telehealth apps, the first type that comes to mind is the virtual consultation app. Patients can use these apps to connect with healthcare professionals through video conferencing or chat services. However, these are not the only types of healthcare mobile applications. 

For Patients

Much of the mobile app development for healthcare happens to accommodate patients. Healthcare apps help patients manage their health in various ways. Some examples of such apps include: 

  • Telemedicine Apps: These apps let patients contact healthcare professionals for medical consultations, similar to virtual consultation apps.
  • Appointment Scheduling Apps: As the name suggests, these apps let patients schedule appointments with doctors, hospitals, labs, clinics, veterinary practices, etc. 
  • Personal Health Apps: Such apps fall under different categories, such as sexual health, fitness, mental health, and nutrition apps. 
  • Reminder Apps: These come in handy for people of all ages who tend to forget things like taking medicines and going to appointments. 

For Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers also use a host of medical apps. Some of the most common types of mobile apps for healthcare providers are: 

  • Medical Reference Apps: These help doctors and nurses stay updated about medications, procedures, drug interactions, etc.
  • Patient Monitoring Apps: With the advent of wearable devices in healthcare, patient monitoring apps are gaining traction. They can monitor various health parameters like blood pressure, heart rate, glucose level, oxygen saturation levels, etc. 
  • Electronic Health Record (EHR) Apps: EHRs are digital versions of patient health records. They let healthcare providers access and update medical records on their mobile devices. 

For Caregivers

Besides medical organizations and patients, caregivers also benefit from mobile apps designed for their use. For instance, care coordination apps help caregivers monitor their loved one’s health and well-being. These apps also provide educational resources and support material. Similarly, communication apps allow caregivers to stay connected with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers. 

Steps to Build a Healthcare App

There’s no one-fits-all solution to build a healthcare app. However, here are some standard steps:

  1. Define the Scope: What type of healthcare app do you want to build? Is it for patients, healthcare providers, or caregivers? How does your app differ from other apps on the market? These are a few questions that you need to answer. 
  2. Conduct Market Research: Your market research will tell you about the target audience and their pain points and demographics. You can then use this information to refine your app idea and make it more user-centric. 
  3. Prioritize Features: The market research should also help you identify features to include in your healthcare app. If you have a limited budget, stick to the must-have features, such as those highly in demand or the ones that define your unique selling point. You can add more features later to amp up your app’s functionality.
  4. Perfect UI and UX Design: User-centricity is crucial in mobile app development for healthcare. So, your app should be easy to navigate and visually appealing. 
  5. Create a Monetization Strategy: Would you like to charge users for downloading your app? Or is it a subscription-based app that generates revenue through in-app purchases? Your choice will affect how you add features and design your app. 
  6. Develop and Test the App: Finally, you’re all set to develop the app. You can either do it in-house or get external assistance. If your in-house team lacks in some departments, you can hire freelancers to fill the gap. Alternatively, work with a healthcare mobile app development company that specializes in creating HIPAA-compliant software

Whatever route you choose to go, don’t forget to test the app rigorously before launching it in the market. Once your app is live, ensure regular maintenance. 

Challenges in Healthcare App Development

Developing a healthcare app involves navigating a landscape far more complex than what’s encountered in creating social media platforms or e-commerce applications. This complexity introduces several unique challenges.

Security and Data Privacy: The foremost concern in healthcare app development is ensuring robust security and data privacy. Patients and healthcare providers alike may hesitate to use an app if there are doubts about its ability to safeguard sensitive health data. Ensuring ironclad security is, therefore, not just a feature but a fundamental requirement.

Regulatory Compliance: Adherence to regulatory standards like HIPAA is non-negotiable in healthcare app development. Non-compliance can lead to severe legal repercussions. Furthermore, integrating with existing healthcare systems, such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs), adds another layer of complexity, demanding meticulous attention to compliance.

Evolving Healthcare Regulations: Healthcare regulations are continually changing, and your app must be agile enough to adapt to these shifts. This means healthcare app development is an ongoing journey, not a one-time task. It requires constant updates and refinements to stay compliant and relevant.

Addressing these challenges can seem daunting, but partnering with a specialized healthcare mobile app development company like Flatirons can make the process manageable. With our expertise in HIPAA compliance and extensive experience in healthcare app development, we offer end-to-end services – from prototyping and testing to quality assurance and ongoing maintenance. Let Flatirons be your guide through the intricate landscape of healthcare app development, ensuring your app meets all necessary standards and serves its intended purpose effectively.

Simplifying Healthcare Mobile App Development

Transform the complexity of medical app development into a smooth and streamlined process with Flatirons at your side. Our approach to custom healthcare software services is rooted in a commitment to quality and compliance, ensuring that every aspect of your app is meticulously crafted and rigorously tested.

Our in-house team of quality assurance specialists is dedicated to ensuring that your app functions flawlessly, offering a seamless experience to its users. Meanwhile, our skilled project managers efficiently steer the development process, ensuring timely delivery without compromising on quality.

At the heart of our operation are our expert app developers, who boast extensive experience in software development, particularly in the healthcare domain. Their expertise is complemented by a deep commitment to user-centric design – every feature and function of the app is shaped by thorough user research and testing. This user-focused approach guarantees that the final product not only meets but exceeds the needs and expectations of its end users.

Choosing Flatirons means partnering with a team that understands the intricacies of healthcare mobile app development and is equipped to navigate its challenges effectively. Let us help you bring your healthcare app vision to life, delivering a solution that is both impactful and compliant with industry standards.

Expert Healthcare Software Development Services

Flatirons develops custom healthcare software solutions that prioritize security and compliance.

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