5 Step Guide to Developing a Health App
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5 Step Guide to Developing a Health App

12 min
Jan 12 2021
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Health is the most important priority in life

The past year (2020) has raised the relevance of medical applications. If the generations of the 70s and 80s are accustomed to postponing health issues “for the future”, accumulating a whole layer of diseases by old age, then the generation of the 90s, 00s and 10s maintain a culture of a healthy lifestyle.
According to App Annie statistics for the second quarter of 2020, the growth of downloaded and used medical applications increased by 65% compared to the previous quarter. This percentage is almost equal to the volume of downloads and usage of distance learning applications (67% compared to the previous quarter).
What health apps are in demand among users?

Types of medical applications

These views are formed based on statistics on downloads and further use of App Annie and Google.
  • Telemedicine applications
Telemedicine is a remote opportunity to contact any doctor, which allows you to overcome the following barriers:
  1. Lack of time to visit a doctor in real life
  2. Obstacles to visiting a doctor due to the large distance between the patient and the medical specialist
  3. Saving money
  4. Ability to write prescriptions online
And many other technological features have increased the flow of users to telemedicine applications. You can read more about how to create popular telemedicine applications, what types of it are and what you need to know when developing them - you can read our article “Telemedicine software development”.
Telemedicine can combine many of the functions of other health applications. At the moment, the type of telemedicine applications is the most popular among others.
  • EHR / EMR Applications
EHR is a hospital patient's medical record stored electronically. This is the entire history of the patient's illness for all his years of referring to clinics.
EMR is an electronic version of a patient's medical history at a particular institution. This application contains information about the patient's specific illness. It can be either independent information or an element of which the EHR is made up.
These applications have a user-friendly interface and large cloud storage. Most of them are used by clinics and medical institutions. This means that they must have a serious defense system since more and more clinics have been subjected to cyber-attacks recently.
We have written on our blog for more details on how these types of applications implement tactics in countering cyber-attacks.
  • SOS applications
Emergency health apps are something that can save a person's life.
The user feels that:
  1. Loses consciousness
  2. He has an attack of hypoxia
  3. Limbs go numb
  4. Noises in my head
  5. Lost coordination of movements
And many other dangerous symptoms can press the "SOS" key. Using geolocation, the application calls the rescue service. Also, many users can train children and even pets to call an ambulance.
So, from time to time in the media, cases are announced when specially trained pets called 911 while their owners lost consciousness for various reasons.
The lightweight application, when interacting with modern technologies, will help a person even if he cannot reach the phone and is only able to scream. Having shouted out the necessary combination of a smart speaker that is integrated with the application, the rescue service will arrive to the user.
In addition to emergency functions, applications of this type are used as a search for the nearest clinics and call a taxi to them, in the case when a person feels ailments of low severity.
  • Fitness Apps
This category of applications also belongs to the “health” category. They help keep you physically active. Depending on the application, they may remind the user:
  1. That it's time to start training
  2. Track your daily steps
  3. Track user's sleep duration and depth
  4. Track user's progress on body weight change
  5. Remind you to eat and drink
Every year the functionality of these applications increases, thanks to the expansion of their technology stack and integration with other applications and devices, such as fitness bracelets, fitness sneakers, etc.
These applications are often used by people who need to track their health. So in new-generation business applications, it is important:
  • Schedule a visit to the doctor;
  • Keep a food diary and get calorie calculation
  • Receive prescriptions for medicines
And many other functions that allow health applications to be more functional and in demand among users.
  • Medication reminder health apps
These applications are designed specifically for those who constantly forget about taking medications and miss the time prescribed by the doctor. The main advantage of such applications, in addition to notifications, is such functional mentions as:
  1. Indication of the amount of drug dose
  2. Indication of the cycle of taking the drug (the date when the drug was taken by the patient and the date of the last drug intake)
  3. Changes in the amount of drug intake for different dates of its use
Such applications are especially popular among:
  1. Pregnant and lactating women
  2. People with memory disorders
  3. Elderly
  4. People with diabetes mellitus
  5. Athletes
And other citizens who have difficulties with adherence to treatment. Modern apps that remind you to take medications have also introduced the function of entering data on pills (their amount at the beginning of the intake) and can remind a person to replenish the supply of pills.

Healthcare application technology stack

Currently, users have access to many functions that contain medical applications. The list of these functions is called the technological stack.
The unattended tools of medicine applications that users are accustomed to using are:
  • AI (Artificial Intelligence). This technology enables the following tools to be used to facilitate telemedicine and other health applications, such as:
  1. Chat bots
  2. Automation of entering specialist notes in EMR
  3. Diagnostics improvements due to the database and its AI replenishment
  • WebRTC. This tool helps you to use real-time chats, voice messages and video calling within the application, making it easy for patient and doctor to communicate. Also WebRTC organizes a staging database.
  • Registration system. Registration will allow you to track traffic on the site, identify visitor statistics, understand what kind of advertising they will be interested in and ensure the security of the application.
  • Personal profile. A personal account with information about the user, which the patient enters himself upon registration, and then replenishes during the use of the application - will facilitate understanding of the patient's progress and confirm his confidence in treatment / training and the overall effectiveness of using the application.
  • EMR and EHR. These systems are electronic medical records of patients that provide instant access to medical history and other information for the doctor. They can be either standalone applications or functional tools. They often use standardized forms, access keys and cloud storage in their work.
  • Cloud services. These services store all information about the application and support its operation in terms of exchange, management and data retrieval.
  • IVR. This technology provides an automated telephony system that allows subscribers to interact using voice and DTMF signals.
  • Elastic search. Allows you to navigate the application and quickly find the necessary information for any user inside the application.
  • Geolocation. The Google Geolocation API allows you to get data about the patient's location. If unforeseen circumstances occur at the appointment, the doctor can inform the ambulance colleagues where to arrive and what happened to the patient. This function is the main one in SOS applications.
  • Twilio - Voice notifications and messages. This feature helps improve voice messages and appointment reminders for patients and doctors.
  • Safe payment. This feature allows you to make transparent payments and link them to the system of applications such as Paypal, Paytm, Google Play, banking applications and other payment systems. These payment gateways not only facilitate interaction, but also provide a complete description of the payment history for the patient, doctor and teleclinic.
  • Integration between different health apps for patient tracking. Examples of such applications are Google Fit, Apple HealthKit, applications connected to fitness bracelets, shoes, etc. Integration with these applications will allow you to replenish the patient's history with data on his physical activity, heart rate, sleep and other parameters. This will make it easier for the doctor to diagnose.
Every year, the technological stack of health applications is replenished with new functions. This increases their attractiveness to users and opens up more ways to monetize the app.

5 step guide to developing a health app

Step 1. Idea

This is the key element of the application, from which its purpose, technology stack, unique features and monetization paths are built.
The idea of an application should solve problems that existing applications have not yet solved or are not effectively solving. Perhaps as you study this article, you have already come up with a unique idea.
Give your idea a structure. This will help you work it out faster, see the potential, and start developing your health app. To form the structure of the idea, the answers to the following questions will help you:
  1. Who is the application for?
  2. How should the toolkit contain?
  3. What is the potential audience reach for your application?
  4. What exactly does your audience need?
These questions will help you develop the foundation of your business analysis and then write a business plan to see your application.

Step 2. Important points

At this stage, our team would like to warn you about why many health apps are losing clients or even being blocked. This is not due to the elaboration of the following points:
  • Cybersecurity Compliance
Many clinics and applications are now trying to move faster or create a reliable system for securing their resources. The fact is that in 2020 the number of cyberattacks on medical institutions has increased significantly, as we wrote about in our blog.
In order to avoid the fate of these clinics and the churn of clients, take care of the security of confidential information and think about several access codes in your application.
  • Integration with other applications
Increasingly, the younger generation of users is choosing health apps with great functionality. The integration of the application with social networks, various fitness applications, will allow you to receive more information about users and satisfy their consumer wishes. Users, seeing the user-friendly functionality, may well prefer many unnecessary applications, one of yours, which will replace the others.
  • Legal regulations
You should study the legal regulations of the health application in the locations where your application will potentially be used. If it violates any point of the world and regional norms, then most likely the application will be blocked.
For example, when your application begins to attract a large number of users, then you may think about introducing an additional source of monetization - advertising.
Here, it is important for you to remember - there is nothing bad in advertising itself if it fits the theme of your site. Many people tend to trust advertisements in healthcare facilities. And if a company decides to advertise an untested drug or a topic that is not related to a healthy lifestyle, this can become a problem in a number of countries.
  • Information about doctors
Many applications use a “trump card” that draws attention to them - the ability to communicate with doctors (often this applies to telemedicine).
In order for your clients to have confidence in you, you need to place the most transparent information about doctors:
  1. What university did the doctor go to?
  2. How many years of experience with a doctor?
  3. Does the doctor have scientific activities?
  4. Does the doctor have distinctive awards?
  5. How many users have selected a specific doctor?
  6. What feedback did users leave after seeing a content doctor?
All this information builds trust in medical applications and attracts new users. If the application is not related to telemedicine but contains the function of consulting a doctor, there should also be the most transparent information about it, which is easy to find on other sites.
  • Apple and Google Play rules
This stage will overtake you when the application is ready and it will need to be placed on public sites in order for users to download and use it.
You will be faced with the choice of iOS or Android. On iOS (Apple), the health application requirements are very serious. On Android (Google Play), these rules are a little freer. But they should be taken into account when compiling a technical stack and developing application functionality (this is especially true for the issue of data privacy and security).
Many developer companies take responsibility for adhering to the rules that Apple and Google Play put forward for applications. To ensure that most of these points are not your obstacle on the way to creating an application, you need to contact a reliable developer company.

Step 3. Project documentation

All work will be easier when you provide the development team with a ready-made step-by-step plan of what you expect from the application. At this stage, you must describe the required technological stack, on which platform you want to place the application (iOS or Android).
In order for the process of writing project documentation to go smoothly, you need to clearly articulate the business idea and mission of the application.
The application mission is the mission of a company that is positioned to a client. For the sake of the mission, the client is ready to turn to you again. Missions are always easy to understand. For example, here are the missions of famous brands:
  • McDonald's mission is to serve customers quickly and instill a sense of "homecoming" through the principles of service, food quality, cleanliness and atmosphere of establishments around the world.
  • Starbucks' mission is to inspire and develop human consciousness with quality coffee, atmosphere and personalized attention to the customer.
  • Google's mission is to organize all the information in the world and make it available to everyone.
A business idea is an idea that adds value to a company. The policy of internal work, earnings, logistics, etc. is built from it. The business idea and mission are what allows the company's employees and application developers to perform better work and achieve the desired result.
Business goals are goals that are set by the company to implement the mission and business idea.
The best way to accomplish this step will help you write a business plan of any existing form. In the future, your documentation will be provided to the development team, which will translate it into technical language for the development of your application.

Step 4. How to find a reliable development team?

This question worries many people who want to create their own application. The problem is that people do not know the algorithm for interacting with the development team, do not know the principles of their work and what they should expect (except for the finished application). Also, many users are not aware of the risks they are taking when referring to dubious developers.
The Exceed Team is committed to ensuring that everyone who wants to create their own application can bring their idea to life and not be afraid to fall into the hands of scammers. We've created a detailed article on how to find a competent development team.
You will need this information when you finally decide to create an application.

Step 5. Getting started on the project

From this stage, all that remains for the customer to do is to control the current stages of development.
The stages may vary depending on the type and complexity of the project. However, there is a general form that will help the customer to navigate and understand at what stage the work is going on and how much is left for the development team to work on the health application.
  1. Description of the technical task
  2. Creation of navigation and design - initial site model
  3. Description of structural elements in layout language
  4. Programming
  5. First testing of the project
  6. Final test
  7. Application delivery
This completes the work of the application development team. These points are described in more detail in our article on finding a competent application development team.

Let's discuss your idea

The Exceed Team is ready to implement any of your ideas for creating a health application.
If your future application contains new solutions in this area of business, then we are ready to present you with a unique solution so that you receive a ready-made health application that will satisfy all your requirements and plans.
For all questions that arise during the reading of the article - write to us.
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