In 2019, the eHealth app market is developing rapidly. Last year, it was valued at $0.8 billion and forecasted to generate not less than $111.1 billion globally by the end of 2025. No wonders, healthcare app developers of various kinds are now significantly demanded in the US, Canada, and Western Europe.
While startups from developing countries are mainly focused on healthcare products for personal use as fitness or women’s health tracking apps, well-developed countries tend to invest funds into apps for medical or educational institutions — reference apps development, patient monitoring services, and tools for students.
The trick is, medical app developers need to have healthcare expertise and are more likely to execute tasks connected with big data proceeding than regular specialists. In this article, we’ll look deeper into healthcare app development and find out what challenges one faces working in the niche.
Types of Healthcare Apps
Mobile health (or mHeath) is not just a fad. Health and wellness websites designed well are now an essential part of the healthcare digital ecosystem incorporated with the Internet of Things (IoT). Multifunctional mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, devices with tracking functions like smartwatches or fit bracelets, as well as specialized equipment for diagnostics and patient monitoring are also a part of healthcare IoT.
Telemedicine app development also includes medical records database management, data storing and solving tasks like how to empower remote patient monitoring using smart sensors or video chats.
Sounds a bit messy? Let’s analyze the most popular types of healthcare apps one by one according to their functions and user targeting.
Healthcare Apps for Users (not Medics)
#1 Health & Fitness
General health and fitness apps — there is how the most demanded and profitable healthcare apps niche sounds. This type of application is created to serve a wide range of users of all ages. As people are opting to get fit according to their personal rhythm and not the gym timetable, fitness apps are the perfect solution for them.
Healthcare mobile app development allowed us to workout with a virtual trainer, personalize out nutrition, track our health unstoppably, and develop good habits in terms of a healthy lifestyle. The most common types of general health & fitness apps are health tracking apps, tools for obesity and weight management, fitness apps, and nutrition apps.
Some of them are interconnected with gyms and online markets, but most perform their functions as a self-standing service.
Examples — MyFitnessPal, FIIT, Sleep++, and Headspace.
#2 Chronic Care
Chronic care management apps is another type of digital product dedicated to those who want to shift care provision from hospitals to their home or any place where there is an internet connection. That approach helps to improve the quality of life for people with various chronic diseases (chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, etc.).
Chronic care management apps make it easy for a person to maintain daily medical self-care, increase their lifespan, and monitor health to avoid disease complications. Apps are also useful for people with mental health conditions — they help them to do routine tasks without third-party assistance.
You may find those types of app among the most demanded in the niche — behaviour disorder management apps, apps for people with diabetes, blood pressure & ECG monitoring tools, cancer therapy mobile services.
Examples — MyID, Medisafe, PainScale, and TeMed.
#3 Medication Management
Medication management apps have similar functions to chronic care management apps, however, they are more focused on monitoring compliance with therapy and procuring essential drugs at a bargain price.
With the help of medication apps, one has no longer to remember what pills to take, what dose is required, at what time, where to buy them, and when they run out of medication. Apps allow to create therapy schedules and give tips on the most effective way to match medication with the person’s lifestyle.
Usually, such apps require mobile-first physician platforms development.
Examples — MyMedSchedule, MyMeds, and RXmindMe.
#4 Female Health
Women’s health apps are about specific vital indicator monitoring. Their aim is to help women to overcome periods, pregnancy or motherhood, and make it easy for them to adopt personal plans and work graphics to the state of her well-being. Such apps are also helpful for early detection of disease.
Although there are three types of female health apps, you may find that most of the popular women’s app includes various functions. Pure types are — pregnancy apps, fertility apps (period monitoring), and breastfeeding apps.
Examples — Natural Cycles, Glow, Clue, and Ovia.
#5 Personal Health Recording
Personal health record apps give people direct access to their medical records without contacting medical institutions or visiting them. They are also helpful if a person is seeing a doctor for the first time or would like to get an online consulting session with other professionals (telemedicine service).
One can maintain a medical history of their own with the help of a single app or site with well-done health and wellness website design, while others with a medical background can check somebody’s records in a critical situation like loss of consciousness by the stranger or an accident where they were seriously injured. That could even save a human’s life!
Such kind of apps is usually a part of a larger all-in hospital ecosystem, where doctors use digital tools to create and store patients’ information. Therefore, these apps are often developed by hospitals.
Examples — Medical Records, Patient Medical Records & Appointments for Doctors, VitusVet: Pet Health Care App (for animals), EHR / EMR Health.
Apps for Hospitals
Medical App (or apps for professionals) is another category of healthcare digital instruments. Unlike apps for the general public, they are designed to be useful for medics only. And since their target audience pool is smaller and most of them are adjusted to a specific institution, such apps are more custom and expensive in development than regular apps.
#1 Medical references and studying tools
The medical knowledge database grows daily. How could a single hospital worker stay up-to-date? And is it any chance to avoid looking for reference information in the medical directory? To check your professional assumptions? Medical references app is an answer. This digital tool automatically downloads science updates and holds a huge database on diseases.
Continuing medical education apps is another version of reference apps. On its turn, it is dedicated to students, PG aspirants, and interns and provide them with a chance to practice their knowledge virtually. Such products may appear as online dictionaries or even games for future medics.
Examples — Daily Rounds for Doctors, Offline Drug Dictionary, and Medscape.
#2 Patient monitoring by doctor’s request
Patient management & monitoring app phenomenon is one more innovation encashed by the telemedicine progress. The idea is to provide people with medical help without letting them visit hospital which could be far away from their homeplace.
It also works vice versa — with the help of monitoring medical app development and different life sensors doctors may treat a larger number of patients saving time on visiting them personally. Some of the apps like this allow patients to find appropriate doctors in the area where they faced a crisis healthcare situation.
Examples — 1upHealth, ACT.md, and AirStrip.
#3 Medical consulting
Sometimes, it’s not enough to scan your vital statistics for coming to the right medical conclusion. In most cases, apps could not yet replace a doctor. Telemedicine apps can help you to plan your visit to the doctor, arrange an online meeting with a specialist in the area you need wherever you are or contact the nearest hospital in case of an emergency.
In non-emergency cases, the medical consulting app may help you to take care of your health by visiting doctors regularly.
Examples — MDLIVE, Lemonaid: Same Day Online Care, and LiveHealth Online Mobile.
HealthKit and Google Fit for Healthcare Mobile Application Development
While small companies conduct medical app development, huge corporations work on frameworks that will allow their hardware to deliver information through the various app to the united database and help medical software to interact.
Apple Healthkit and Google Fit are frameworks (or software development kits, SDK) of that kind. They are integrated into Apple and Android devices by default and are connected to Apple ID or Google account of their users.
Is there any difference between these two leading products? Well, their key idea is to connect health monitoring devices (like fit bracelets, smartwatches, and other vital signals tracking gadgets), hospital databases, medical help providers (hospitals, private doctors, urgent help stations), and regular hardware features (geolocation tracking module, camera, and others) to make it possible for user to reach any possible medical service without special logging in.
Healthcare SDK is considered to be the first real step to telemedicine app development as it should be, they say.
Apple Healthkit and Health App
“A bold way to look at your health”
launched in 2014
Apple Healthkit is an iOS framework designed to manage personal medical data and Healthcare App is a native Apple product that gives you access to Healthkit functions. Health App aggregates all possible information about your vital activity — the quality of sleep, blood pressure, heartbeat rate, temperature, number of steps, and weight changes. That information is gained from your interconnected devices and organized by the app.
Third-party health-related app developed on Apple Healthkit should interact with Health App and share information with it. For example, a nutrition app could use data from Health App to count calories and build a diet.
iOS healthcare developers decided to mark these Health App sections as keys to a healthy life — Mindfulness, Activity, Nutrition, and Sleep. Its concept is built around letting people set goals and reach them. Health App also tracks data connected with heart activity, body measurements, and reproductive health.
“Activity goals to improve health”
launched in 2014
Google Fit is a platform for health tracking for both Android and iOS devices. It is also an application responding to users' requests. In terms of digital engineering, Google Fit is a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) that works with data from different devices such as activity trackers, smartphone sensors, and healthcare information bases.
Google Fit also gives users an opportunity to set fitness goals and reminds you about daily physical activities. The app stores data on clouds, accesses data of other apps, and analyzes user statistics to let developers know what they could improve in the future.
For healthcare app development, Google Fit is an ecosystem to integrate new apps into.
Unlike Apple’s Health App, Google Fit was created in a collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and is based on its recommendations. The basic metrics of the app are move minutes and heart points. Regarding them, it makes your fitness suggestions and is able to identify the type of activity you are involved in (cycling, swimming, running, or walking).
Healthcare APIs in Healthcare App Development
In 2019, healthcare application development is often associated with medical IoT. Smart sensors, personal health monitoring gadgets, hospital equipment, and various databases are all parts of the huge ecosystem empowered with application programming interface (or API).
APIs are the concrete that keeps the medical IoT object together and makes it possible for devices of different operating systems and programming languages to interact with each other. In terms of development, API is a communication protocol that matches clients and servers and simplifies client-side software development.
APIs can take different forms. Some of them are specified on data structuring or digital task routines, others are built to proceed object classes and variables.
Nowadays, we observe the healthcare industry APIs development boom. Their aim is to collect patient information and provide remote assistance, saving time and money for their users.
Medical app development can’t be imagined without APIs. Although nobody asks why we need APIs, even medical APIs have different dedication:
— Focused on patients
Appointment scheduling app development, apps for quick access to patient’s clinical history, as well as apps for those who undergo medical treatment according to their chronicle illness — all of them use API. Fitness and life metrics trackers are also integrated there due to API.
— Focused on hospital management
Electronic health records need to be stored in hospitals. However, to support quick cooperation between medical institutions and specialists, there has to exist a tool to match them on a digital level. A hospital billing system is also an issue. It should be connected with the client’s banking system and its health monitoring app. And here comes API.
— Focused on scientific purposes
Health API allows to analyze big data gained from lots of medical institution and make conclusions out of a significant number of patients’ records. That helps to react to upcoming epidemics fast or to accumulate evidence-based scientific knowledge. It's important that patients’ diagnosis data could be gained anonymously.
Although there are lots of other benefits of APIs in the healthcare industry, there also some challenges the API market is facing these days. Security and privacy terms are among them.
Most popular and powerful API used in healthcare mobile app development are — Box API (can be used with Java, Python, Ruby, and works well for iOS, Android, and Windows devices), Doximity (gives full information about doctors and healthcare practices), HealthTap (health network for getting remote medical assistance), and Zynx Health API (support healthcare data exchange for better medical service).
How to Choose Healthcare App Development Company
No matter you have a desire for thoughtful mobile-first physician platforms development or working out a brand new concept of an app for medics, soon or later you’ll face the problem of choosing the proper development team.
In our article titled How to Hire a Dedicated Development Team, we’ve already given you some advice. Here, let’s recollect the most critical of them concerning healthcare development.
— Healthcare UI and UX experience
Mobile apps of different sectors look pretty the same from the developer’s glance. But if it comes to design and data architecture, they have their specifics. Healthcare API awareness is just one of the basic requirements you shall have. Try to choose companies that have health-related products in their portfolio and don’t hesitate to ask them about those cases.
— Extra security issues
Healthcare digital products should provide users with an advanced level of security otherwise their vital personal data are in danger. The final product needs to be resistant to cyber attacks, as well as be stable enough to avoid error-cased data losses and other operating flaws.
— Project roadmap issues
Hospital patient app development is about making the lives of patients and doctors easy and increasing their life quality. If you don’t have a proper product roadmap or your chosen app development company does not comprehend your business objectives, it will be hard for you to manage the development process. Check whether you are speaking on the same language with your digital executors before your cooperation.
— Tech skills considering your project requirements
In most cases, medical apps are extremely complex products as they have to interact with various health monitoring devices and secure databases. That means that your development team has to be skilled and experienced. The best way to check its potential to work out your idea is to conduct an interview with each of your project's proposed team members. Ask for their CVs if you don’t have time for interviewing.
From our article titled How Much Does It Cost to Build an App, we described lots of factors that influence the final bill. Here, let’s name major ones: technical complexity of your task, UX/UI level, team skillset and the number of workers dedicated to your task, and the country you’ll choose for development. Eastern Europe option is considered to be the best solution for those who are looking for skills/hourly rate balance.
And don’t forget to check references on healthcare apps developers!
Healthcare app developers had never been demanded more than now.
Just two years ago most digital medical platforms were web-based and their main idea was to connect patients and doctors. In 2019, there are more than 10 types of healthcare apps and mobile services including tools for chronic care, women's health, medical recording, and remote professional consulting. And what they all have in common is their intention to incorporate with IoT and use the AI approach.
It is expected that by the end of 2020 the mHealth segment will grow almost twice comparing to 2015 (43%). But even now medical app developers may admit that vital signals tracking soft- and hardware are the hottest healthcare development fields. The Philips research said that more than 80% of medics use digital devices in their professional practice to monitor their patients during 2019.
Healthcare API is one more thing to be mentioned regarding healthcare IoT breathtaking boom. To integrate all devices, databases, and programs designed for healthcare niche we need a proper algorithm proposed by various APIs. So choose the suitable one, find a dedicated developers’ team, and make your way in the healthcare sector with a clear idea useful for people globally.