The popularity of various types of medical apps is steadily growing over the last couple of years. According to the report, the market size for healthcare applications in 2020 is valued at USD 40.05 billion — and it’s predicted that in the next 7 years, its annual growth will reach 17.7%. Mobile apps can considerably impact healthcare outcomes and are perfect for remote work which explains — in the light of pandemics — the rapid development of this industry. Almost 90% of physicians use mobile phones for recording patients’ symptoms, outlining treatment plans, and communicating with patients. It’s a profitable niche.
So: this article is going to talk about the latest trends in mobile healthcare development, types of mHealth apps, — and discuss what it costs to develop them.
Let’s start with trends.
Internet of Medical Things — healthcare-specific version of IoT — includes, of course, all the wearables out there. Apart from that, it’s wireless patient monitors in hospitals, training equipment for doctors, sensors in the hospitals to track patient flow, sensors on the clothes to track and report about fall events, etc. RPA Virtual used the technology for connecting armpit patches that track temperature and pulse oximeters that measure saturations to the app that shows data to doctors — that helped them somehow mitigate the intensity of the pandemic. Diversido used IoMT to create a training set with mannequins connected to patient monitors to help young doctors shape their defibrillation skills. The application of the tech is truly wide.
IoMT, as it’s already been mentioned, gives doctors and research institutions access to patients’ data. That allows doctors to better understand specifics of how a patient reacts to a treatment plan, gain opportunities for customization, and make more accurate medical decisions. Research institutions can gain insights on population health and patient needs using these. Of course, IoMT isn't the only source of data about patients’ health — many medical organizations are, and lots of digital health standards are exploring their data to develop analytics tools. For instance, in August of 2021, Holmusk, a firm that develops health tech, signed a deal with Harris Center for Mental Health to gain access to their data, and, applying Natural Language Processing (NLP) and other AI models, plans to develop a tool that will improve patient outcomes via AI platform Neuroblue.
With healthcare mobile apps, “online hospitals” have become a real thing! Telemedicine is a great opportunity to conduct patients’ consultations, health evaluations, and oversee treatment online. The patients don’t waste time going to the hospital and don’t put themselves in danger of being infected by other patients. The providers increase their revenue, have fewer no-shows, and boost the physicians’ satisfaction with the work. Examples of the app vary from Teladoc, the #1 telehealth provider in America, with all kinds of specialists in there and niche telehealth solutions — like the one for obstetrics and pediatrics, recently announced by Thomson X and Whitecoat.
- Simplify patient data collection. Indeed, the data collection process becomes easy and quick when all the tools are gathered in one place. There is no need to keep a ton of papers with the patients’ histories — or look for patient data across different EHRs.
- Provide quick care remotely. Thanks to telemedicine and other modern tools, it is possible to get urgent recommendations from doctors in a real-time mode without leaving home.
- Reduce administrative mistakes. Administrative errors make up from 5% to 50% of all medical errors in primary care. Healthcare apps can help to catch these errors before they mess with, e.g. payment process.
- Minimize hospitals’ and patients’ spending. Patients have their problems solved via the app and don’t need to go to the hospital and waste personal time. On the other hand, virtual care helps limit hospitals’ exposure levels, automation in medical systems saves doctors time they would spend on manual data entries, etc.
- Streamline all kinds of communication in healthcare. Communication between patients, doctors, hospital administration, insurance providers, pharmacies, and all other parties of the healthcare process can happen within one system which minimizes potential mistakes, excessive testing, or data losses.
- Boost customer engagement & increase their loyalty. Healthcare service providers that offer a mobile app to schedule visits, review prescribed medication, monitor the treatment’s progress, or educate patients about their health can have a significant advantage over organizations that don’t have such apps.
There are various types of healthcare apps depending on who the end-user is and what the purpose of the app is. Here are five types of apps that are most popular among them.
- Medicine Delivery App/Online Pharmacies. For patients to order medications they need to be at their doorstep.
- Telenursing Applications. Allow patients to contact the nurses and receive recommendations on symptoms management, post-surgery recovery, etc. and get an opinion on whether they need to get a doctor appointment
- Appointment Scheduling Apps. Setting an online schedule with a doctor.
- Mindfulness, Health, and Fitness App. Such solutions have multiple purposes including helping develop habits for physical activities, preventing users from getting overwhelmed with stress or anxiety, getting advice on health management, etc.
- Patient Health Education Apps. Applications for self-management and health awareness help users gain control over their bodies and care about them properly.
Healthcare app development is a very complex process, but you can make it easier and more effective if you follow the well-defined steps.
Instead of creating a multi-purpose app, develop a solution for a specific problem, find a niche. This way, you could focus your efforts on the essential features only as well as stand out among the competitors.
Research your future users and find out how they want your application to be, how they want it to impact their lives.
Create a user-friendly and easy-to-use interface. The first impression of your users — and, therefore, user retention — will depend on UI/UX design.
By giving the raw, main features of your application for testing to your users, you can improve tenfold before release (and you can show an MVP to investors!)
Pretty self-explanatory step — to develop a good mHealth app, you must stay in contact with your users (especially if that’s a B2B app — get some doctors in the room!)
Here are some conditions that affect the final cost:
- The simplicity of the app. The simpler your application is, the less money you’ll pay. Therefore, if you want your product to have a sophisticated and detailed architecture with data analytics, API integrations, etc, be prepared to spend a lot;
- IT team engagement model. Having an in-house software development team is the most expensive process. If you are on a tight budget and don’t have sufficient internal technical expertise, consider outsourcing the development process.
- Security. A must for apps that interact with patient health data in any way. A must in a sense — you have to hire a dedicated DevOps professional or cybersecurity person that will oversee the entirety of the development process.
On average, app development for digital health will cost you $45,000 – $80,000. But the price tag can change both up and down.
Healthcare applications provide lots of benefits to all parties of the healthcare process.
The development of such a solution can turn into a profitable business idea with lots of growth potential. If you want your project to succeed, make sure to conduct profound market research, analyze all the trends, choose the right development team and create a strong business model.
Don’t forget that “build fast and break things” doesn’t work for healthcare — whatever people who succeeded in recent two years say. Build slow and listen to your users.