Mobile Health App Development: Best Practices

Mobile Health App Development

Mobile healthcare apps are in high-demand. One 2022 study found that 46.7% of smartphone users have a mobile health app installed on their phone. While fitness apps were the majority, 33.9% of these surveyed users had a health app for non-fitness purposes. Common ones included apps used for drugs, treatment, and follow-up care.

Given this high demand, medical software developers have a great opportunity to fill needs gaps with a mobile app. However, when you develop a healthcare app, there is a lot more that you need to be aware of compared to standard app development. This is especially true if you’re developing apps for critical treatment and care purposes.

While the software development lifecycle generally follows similar steps to other mobile apps and other forms of medical software development (which may vary based on your app’s intended use), there are a set of good practices health mobile app developers should take. This article will list some of them.


1. Take Extra Steps to Protect Health Data

One of the best ways to protect patient data is to simply not collect it. Of course, the nature of your app may require you to collect some health information for it to perform its intended function. So, identify what data is absolutely necessary for your app to function and limit data collection to only that.

For data that is necessary, de-identification is key. This process involves removing identifiable details so the data cannot be linked to specific individuals. For example, an app designed to track blood glucose levels should be able to utilize data to aid users in managing their condition without attaching it to identifiable information like names or exact locations.

If the app is designed to help medical professionals monitor patients and requires location information, developers should implement stringent privacy and security measures. Encryption is beneficial in this scenario. Another option would be to ensure that precise location data is accessible only when necessary, such as during an active emergency.


What Else Do You Need to Know About Medical Software Development?

2. Balance Innovation With Stability

While pushing the boundaries of what your health app can do, it’s wise not to disregard the foundation that established protocols provide. Innovation drives progress, but using tried and true practices and tools ensures reliability and trust.

Utilize free or affordable tools to protect user information and privacy during development. Software development kits (SDKs), software libraries, and cross-platform toolkits are available to help you enhance app security and usability without starting from zero.


3. Conduct Market Research Before You Start

Understanding the specific needs of your target audience is vital. Consider your competitors, who you are designing for, and where possible needs gaps exist. Be mindful not to pick a need that’s so niche that you cannot find a target market.

Developers must also take into account the needs of the healthcare industry. Balancing compliance, legality, and ethics with consumer demand is crucial for your app. You cannot compromise healthcare legislation for the sake of popular demand.

According to Research2Guidance, the most in-demand health apps (outside of general fitness apps) are those that help patients manage hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, obesity, diabetes, and mental health. The following graph shows the market size and market potential for these top needs.


health mobile app developers
Data source: Research2Guidance, mHealth App Developer Economics study, 2017


4. Consider Accessibility

Chances are that your app will be used by a diverse population. As such, it’s important to ensure that everyone is able to access the same benefits from your app’s usage. This includes older populations and people with varying disabilities.

The app’s design should be intuitive, allowing users to quickly understand how to navigate and use it effectively. This includes making the registration and sign-in processes straightforward and avoiding unnecessary steps that could frustrate users. You should also avoid using medical jargon unless your app is designed to be used by healthcare providers.

Consider using larger text and icons to cater to an older audience. Adjustable themes in your settings such as high-contrast mode, dark mode, and zoom-in can also help people with various visual challenges. Be careful to ensure that your design isn’t overwhelming, too busy, or potentially harmful to people with photo-sensitivities or conditions like epilepsy.


5. Remember Regulations

One challenge that many healthcare app development companies face is balancing compliance regulations. The challenge is that health apps need to comply with both healthcare regulations and general privacy regulations, such as the GDPR and the CCPA. This is especially true if the nature of your app’s usage necessitates some personal data collection.

Begin by identifying which laws will apply to your app. If you plan to market to the US, you will need to adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as you would with any management system that handles electronic health records.

However, if you plan to extend your reach beyond the US, you will need to follow other data privacy and health regulations. For instance, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) sets the standard for data privacy in most of Canada.


6. Test Rigorously

Rigorous testing is essential for any kind of medical technology, including custom healthcare apps. In many cases, documentation that shows you performed adequate testing to verify safety and cybersecurity is required for legal purposes.

Begin by developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test your concept with a basic feature set, focusing initially on either iOS or Android to streamline the process. User acceptance testing (UAT) is helpful at this stage, as it uncovers any weak points through real user interactions.

Moreover, consider how the app functions in areas of poor connectivity. You’ll need reliability for end-users everywhere.

You should also plan for the ongoing maintenance of your app, including how you will handle updates and communicate with users post-release. This includes preparing a strategy for addressing new security vulnerabilities as they arise.


Get Assistance From Medical App Development Services

Getting your new tool ready for the app stores is an exciting venture. Your company has a lot to gain from releasing an app, and new health apps present endless new opportunities. If you need help making this process simple, you can count on professional medical app developers.

Vantage MedTech’s team of experts specializes in developing software for medical applications, offering comprehensive support in app development for medical devices. Our professionals stay ahead of industry trends and best practices, ensuring you receive top-notch advice for both mobile and medical device app projects. We’re dedicated to providing innovative solutions tailored to your needs, leveraging the latest in digital health technology.

Reach out to us today to tell us about your idea.

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