Healthcare apps have become one of the most efficient ways for clinicians to keep track of their patient’s well-being. As a healthcare facility or a private medical practitioner, you might be interested in developing such an application.
If you’re a startup founder, you might be curious, too: this year, due to the push and restraints the pandemic put on this sector, digital health finally morphed from a small niche to a large market, gaining $14.7 billion of investment in the first half of 2021.
Building a successful healthcare app will generate considerable challenges related to defining the audience, choosing a niche, and resolving security-related risks. This article outlines essential steps that will guide you through the process.
Define Target Audience
First and foremost, you need to understand who your target is — it’s essential when creating any software, as it allows you to focus your efforts on the features of your app that are most important to the end-users.
Why Is Defining a Target Audience Important?
You see, a healthcare app cannot be developed to serve everyone. It simply isn’t possible to cater to all demographics simultaneously. If you try to do this, your software might become derivative and, instead of solving a problem, it might create additional ones.
In healthcare app development, your primary focus should be on a group of people that will be using your medical app: for instance, for people with chronic pain, dentists, nurses in care homes, etc. You want to provide these users with the best possible experience and show them that your app can mend their pain.
How to Define Your Target Audience
Conduct audience research — learn about the gaps and issues that exist in the healthcare processes. Talk to different patients, doctors, and other people related to the industry. Study digital health offerings similar to your idea. Ask yourself questions, including:
- What solutions does my app provide?
- Who will most likely use this app?
- Who else provides similar solutions?
- What can I do to make mine better?
Alternatively, you can research challenges and problems within different niches in the healthcare industry and devise a technological solution to them based on your findings.
Your next step is to determine who exactly is the audience. Apart from classic location and age data, figure out their social status and health conditions. If you’re building the app for patients, consider their mobility; if you’re creating solutions for doctors, take their position in hospitals and experience with technology into account.
Once you have defined these, you can outline user personas. They will put you in the shoes of your audience and help you conclude research-based suggestions about what features and the user experience they would expect you to deliver. For instance, if you want to create an app to help children with ADHD focus better through interactive exercises, you’ll have two large user groups — parents and children — and they will interact with the app differently.
The second step in creating a healthcare app is to develop a prototype, a rudimental version of your app that helps you better understand how it will function.
Prototypes help you determine the main features of your app and how users will access them. With the user personas you created, you can build the functionality that will address their issues. You can also use focus groups to test your mockups — they might reveal missed steps in the user’s journey or wrong design decisions, and your team will be able to address them preventively.
Prototypes also help the developers working on your project visualize the user experience and behavior in detail — it makes building the secondary features easier.
Finally, prototypes are considered a bridge between the stakeholders and the development team. If you involve first adopters from your audience in the process, it can help you demonstrate the value of your project and show how it solves user’s pain points, right from the start of cooperation. Healthcare stakeholders are very reluctant to accept new tech, but the visible value of your product might soften them up.
Build. Integrate. Secure
After targeting and prototyping, comes software development. Approach this stage with cybersecurity in mind. Healthcare is one of the most hackable industries as healthcare apps usually hold sensitive information about patients, including social security numbers, addresses, etc. Study HIPAA compliance requirements beforehand, hire engineers who are good in cryptography, run cybersecurity training among your employees — make sure you protect your users’ data from the start.
APIs & Integrations
APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are one of the main components of your healthcare app. They will allow it to communicate with other applications and access essential data from EHR (Electronic Health Record) systems.
Integrating APIs most securely is essential to the good functioning of your medical app. It’s paramount that your QA team thoroughly tests them before deployment: you don’t want to be one of the vendors who leaked patients’ health info through the API endpoints.
Agile & Continuous Delivery
There are three main methods your teams can use to deliver a successful product.
- Agile is a method where the development team systematically collaborates to develop software through quick iterations or sprints. At the end of each cycle, a set of app components prioritized in the plan are ready for production.
- Continuous delivery is a subset of agile where software components are developed, tested, and ready for production at any stage of the app development.
- Waterfall is a linear methodology where software is released when all of its functionalities are fully developed.
Release and Gather Analytics Metrics
Depending on the budget, you can simultaneously release on all popular devices or on the one target audience uses the most. Gather feedback from the users and be receptive to it: react to their propositions when planning the next sprint and implement the fixes.
simplify things for yourself, start thinking about your future business model simultaneously with user research.
If you’re building a solution for healthcare organizations, invite medics, nurses, or other specialists from your target audience to the designing stage. Build interfaces and features in a way that enhances and optimizes their in-hospital workflow. Always test your assumptions and make sure your technology mends redundancies and heals pains, not deepens them.