How to Create a Digital Healthcare App
Nowadays, the healthcare industry is becoming more digitized at high speed.
The average annual growth rate of the digital healthcare market is projected to rise by approx. 28% within the next 6 years.
The popularity of such services among users is also incredibly high as more than 60% of mobile users have a certain healthcare mobile app installed on their device already.
Such demand is driven by the fact that mHealth solutions aren’t dependent on location & time so people can use such services wherever and whenever they want or need.
The exact same reason explains why you as a provider of HealthCare Products or Services might benefit from it. You can reach a much wider audience & generate more revenue in less time since there’s no need to physically connect with your customers to provide services.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced health and wellness services to become more digitized.
It happened so primarily because many people wanted to minimize the risk of getting infected & use as many services as they possibly could remotely. Thus, businesses had to adjust to these conditions.
Besides, by offering digital services, businesses contributed to “flattening the curve” and preventing even bigger waves of infections.
So, if you want to develop a healthcare mobile app of your own or simply learn more about it — welcome!
❓ How Healthcare Mobile App Development Can Help You Improve Your Services
Having an app can help healthcare providers improve their workflow & profitability in many ways.
The most obvious ones are reaching a wider audience, getting rid of location limitations, language barriers, and other deterring factors.
So let’s take a look at something that doesn’t lie on the surface.
# 1: New Niche
Many healthcare apps are changing the world, because they help to detect cancer at early stages, minimize the risks of repeated strokes, improve the quality of life of people with allergies and chronic illnesses, etc.
However, the industry still has a lot of slots for new heroes to enter the market with life-changing ideas since many diseases don’t have enough digital and remote resources to help people to deal with them.
So, once your idea enters the market, it will most likely disrupt the industry and be demanded, which will make it easier for you to start making higher revenue, which will then make it easier for you to build a highly scalable business.
# 2: Additional Functionality
It can happen that an existing health application doesn’t cover all of your potential cases.
Such a problem with limited functionality is often relevant for businesses whose apps are made with the help of different “out-of-the-box” mobile app development services like Fliplet and Appypie that allow you to create a healthcare mobile app by using a template.
Additionally, there won’t be any extra features that aren’t relevant to your app, thus, such an approach is more beneficial in the long run.
Another reason why some businesses contact development teams is that they want to add some 3rd-party integrations to an existing product. There are two main outcomes:
- If the current product allows integration with needed APIs or BLE-devices (like fitness bands, heart & breath rate trackers), etc., the development team can easily do this.
- In case the existing app can’t be modified with such integrations, your Tech Partner can suggest a solution to the use case.
# 3: Workload Reduction
Nowadays, it’s quite challenging to make an appointment with a doctor — the waiting can go on for weeks. One of the main reasons for that is that the workload of doctors is really high.
A healthcare mobile app can help with this as well since many processes can be automated, and that reduces the workload on the medical staff.
Here are a few use cases of how such apps lower the workload:
- Instead of having to physically meet patients to prescribe physiotherapeutic exercises, doctors can simply upload the video with instructions to the app or directly to a user’s profile.
- Many skin conditions can be monitored through the app. Thus, there’s no need for doctors to have a patient in their office for a check-up — the person can easily & safely upload a photo to the app.
- All prescriptions and recommendations can be securely stored in the app so if users need to freshen up the information, there’s no need to bother specialists anymore.
In terms of your profitability, it can help you provide services to more clients in less time.
# 4: Constant Connection
From the medical point of view, it’s highly important to regularly stay in touch with patients to have a more detailed overview of their well-being.
With a healthcare mobile app, doctors can detect & prevent emerging diseases at early stages, so patients don’t come for a visit only when the situation gets critical.
It can be done through photo “reports” from patients, various symptom checkers, etc.
✅ Types of Medical Apps
The healthcare industry is quite diverse in its services — scheduling doctor appointments is only a tiny part.
There are a bunch of apps that target different categories of people & different branches of healthcare.
In this section, we’re going to talk about the most widespread types of medical apps.
In this article we cover only the most typical types of medical apps. So, if your idea for a medical app is special and doesn’t match common cases — feel free to contact us and we’ll help you with its development!
Type 1: Tracking & Reminding
Such mobile health apps are intended to help people track their well-being, measure certain health indicators, and make sure that all medications are taken on time.
Let’s take a look at what features are often used in such apps.
# 1: Medication Control & Reminders
This feature can help people keep control of their medication regime so that they don’t mistakenly miss the time or confuse the pill.
It's especially relevant for people with chronic illnesses since many of them have to take medications every day and it’s quite complicated to stay focused all the time.
For a better user experience, you can add a feature that’ll scan the QR-code on the medication & automatically add it to the list.
It can be done either by building it into the app or integrating it with the camera on users’ devices.
In addition, it might be a good idea to correlate components of a patient’s medications to make sure that they’re compatible with each other.
# 2: Activity Tracking
This feature can include various activity indicators:
- Distance traveled.
- Workout planners.
- Screen time for eye-related health issues.
- Some specific customizable indicators like swimming, cycling, jumping, etc.
So that the development would be easier and faster, you can integrate third-party applications like Apple Health and Google Fit into your app to enable certain features, instead of developing custom ones. Also, you can use fitness bands, smartwatches, smart fitness equipment, and other BLE-devices.
This can allow you to track heart & breath rate, blood pressure — everything and anything that such devices & APIs provide. If you’d like to learn more about how to do so, here’s our article dedicated to this topic:
How to Enable Google Fit, Apple Health Kit, and Other Services to Share Data with Your App
# 3: Sleep Tracking
To help people improve their sleeping habits and inform them about different activities during sleep, you can add a feature to track such things.
After tracking sleeping activity, you can give advice on how to improve the current situation, offer some sleeping meditations, relaxing sounds, audio sleeping guides, etc.
To increase engagement, you can add a sleep recording feature since many people would like to know if they sleep talk to analyze the quality of their sleep or just for entertainment.
# 4: Exacerbation Control
It’s a good idea to add customizable questionnaires to capture the exacerbation phases & how users feel throughout them.Moreover, healthcare spheres can be absolutely different — from mental health to skin conditions.
Take a look at some typical use cases of this feature so you can have a clearer picture of what we’re talking about. The exacerbation of:
- Bipolar disorder.
- Pain during oncological diseases.
- Skin conditions.
- Respiratory conditions.
- Allergies & others.
# 5: Symptom Check-Ups
To deeper understand the state of each user’s health, you can add various questionnaires on how people feel every day.
To begin with, you can add general questions like temperature, heart rate, blood pressure (if possible to measure), typical symptoms like headache and/or stomachache, dizziness & a bar to add notes that these questions don’t cover.After that, you can offer to create custom questions to tailor the app to each user’s needs.
Additionally, you can offer them to generally track their daily activities so doctors can determine the possibility of certain symptoms being influenced by routines of patients.
# 6: Camera
This feature is intended to picture any external symptoms of illnesses. In addition, it is perfect for preventing & controlling purposes.You should also leave a bar for notes so people can type in some additional symptoms that can’t be captured on camera like pain, itchiness, etc.
Furthermore, offer users to generally track their daily activities so doctors can determine the possibility of certain actions being influenced by routines of patients.
Here are some typical use cases for this feature:
- Regularly take photos of the body to monitor moles & help detect potentially dangerous changes on the skin at early stages.
- Monitor the course of diseases like pink eye.
- Track acne improvements or worsenings, etc.
Examples of Tracking Apps
Here, we’d like to show you some existing examples of such apps:
- For medication control and reminding: Medfox, Medisafe, Mango Health.
- Activity tracking: Strava, Runkeeper, Strong.
- Sleep tracking: Pillow, SleepScore, Sleep Cycle.
- Exacerbation control: Propeller Health (the app for asthma control), Cancer.Net. Mobile (cancer help & control), Nia.
Type 2: Healthcare Assisting & Healthy Lifestyle
This type of medical apps is normally dedicated to treatments that aren’t pharmacotherapies.
They can include physiotherapies, dietary, comfort therapies, etc.
You might want to add the following features:
# 1: Exercises
This feature can help people who were prescribed physical exercise or just need some supporting treatments to deal with certain pains (i. e., knee pain).
So, without having to see patients in their offices, doctors can simply send them video instructions on how to perform certain physiotherapies.
You can also offer some premade universal exercises that surely won’t be harmful & will help with certain conditions.
It might be a good idea to provide a tracker where patients will give feedback on how they feel during & after exercising, rate the difficulty of it, and the level of pain.
In this way, doctors will be able to track the progress and tailor the prescription.
# 2: Nutrition Tracking
With this feature, doctors’ can send dietary prescriptions to their patients and they can always have access to it.
In addition, with an app, patients don’t have to bother doctors anymore if they need to double-check or recall any information.
Also, providing a list of recipes for different categories of patients, such as diabetics, people with different allergies, as well as people with different dietary preferences, might be a pretty good idea too.
Moreover, you can add low and high calorie recipes and many other categories to cover as many needs as possible.
In fact, we have an article dedicated to the topic of nutrition and diets if you’d like to check it out:
Examples of Healthcare Assisting Apps
Let’s take a look at some existing apps in this sphere:
- Physiotherapy: Physio, MoveYoo — we’ve actually worked with MoveYoo.
- Nutrition: PlateJoy, MyNetDiary.
Healthcare Assisting: Our Expertise
We, at Stormotion, have developed both a mobile and a web app for FitTracks, a fitness app with audio-guided workouts for all categories of people — from absolute beginners to experienced athletes.
Their workouts fully meet all World Health Organization recommendations and each one of them is designed to last for 8 weeks with a possibility of a 4 week extension.
All courses have detailed video & audio instructions, as well as written texts so you can get yourself acquainted with the needed info before the workout and feel more confident about its structure.
In fact, FitTrack’s workout programs are recognized by the German government as prevention courses.
For users, it means that they can request 100% reimbursement from their health insurance companies.
Their app helps people adjust their workout routines for different muscle groups, prevention purposes, and joint workouts.
If you’d like to learn more about this project, there’s a case study on our website:
Type 3: Mental Health
Mental health issues are something that’s easier to deal with remotely. And that’s also the reason why such apps are very popular nowadays.
Furthermore, the diversity of such apps is quite impressive. Some of them help to deal with specific problems, from anxiety and panic attacks to OCD and bipolar disorder. Others are intended to improve general mental well-being, and some don’t specialize in any field, but rather offer a customizable experience to every user.
Let’s review what features such apps normally have.
# 1: Well-Being Check-Ups & Tracker
These two features are great to keep track of patients’ mental health on a regular basis since mental issues are rarely a permanent state of affairs.
You can add questionnaires on general topics like current mood, concerns, psychosomatic symptoms like headache, stomachache, feeling of heaviness in the chest, etc.
Then, if a user requires such, you can provide specialized customizable questions that will be suitable for their disease. It might be a good idea to leave a bar for additional notes.
A tracker can be simply organized as a calendar with all dates where any notes or check-ups are taken. Normally, this information is accessible anytime.
# 2: Tools to Get Grounded
Many people often need to get grounded to simply understand what their genuine feelings are or to calm down the temporary acute phase of an issue.
“Grounding” with help of a medical app can be done by using these tools:
- Leading questions to pinpoint the true feeling.
- Memory games like looking at a picture for a short time and then trying to recall it in detail.
- Meditations & other tools.
# 3: Support Chats & Groups
When dealing with mental health issues it’s really important for patients to be understood, and with an app, it’s easy to provide such feelings.
You can create multiple chats & groups on Social Media so people with similar concerns and issues can feel united and comforted by each other to feel less stressed.
Additionally, it’s also a great idea to provide users with emergency mental health support from professionals, so people in need can get primary psychological assistance anytime.
# 4: Meditations
One of the most important parts of mental well-being is meditating. So, it might be reasonable to offer your app users a wide variety of meditations.
- Help to deal with anxiety and intrusive thoughts.
- Help with grounding.
- Be voice-guided or without any accompaniment.
- Improve sleep & others.
Examples of mental health apps
Here are some real-file mental healthcare app examples:
- OCD: nOCD, GG OCD Relief (has tools for dealing with anxiety and depression, but the highlight is OCD).
- Anxiety: Anxiety Release, Dare.
- General Mental Health: Talk Space, Be Mindful.
- Meditation: Calm, Headspace.
Mental Health: Our Expertise
Our team has worked with Feel amazing, which is a the project of Ailsa Frank, a British hypnotherapist and motivational keynote speaker. It is targeted at general mental health improvement & self-development.
Their team’s main goal is to help people overcome their bad habits and be a better version of themselves through audio & video courses, as well as live streams.
The app has many courses dedicated to various topics — from alcohol and nicotine addictions to women’s well-being. It helps people to fight their fears, mend relationships with their loved ones, and gain confidence.
It’s also child-friendly since the content includes sensitive topics regarding alcohol and smoking, which we secured with the Child Lock feature that hides content with age restrictions.
So, if you want to create a mental health app, feel free to reach out to us!
Type 4: Women’s Health
Women have to deal with different health issues on a regular basis — from cramps and breast pains because of their physiology to menstrual disorders.
That’s why FemTech apps have already become a whole industry and help women take better control of the general health as well as of their well-being during pregnancy, period, etc.
Let’s take a look at what features can be used to create a women health app:
# 1: Period Tracker
This feature is one of the most used ones in such apps. It can include:
- Menstrual cycle tracking & prediction.
- Ovulation calculation.
- PMS symptoms tracking & others.
Moreover, by tracking different symptoms and pains before and during “that time of the month”, women can get a better overview of their general health.
This information can also help doctors understand each woman’s specificity to provide better services and lower the intensity of the symptoms.
# 2: Pregnancy Control
Regardless of the fact that pregnancy is an extremely tender process and requires constant doctor control, an app can still be helpful.
Such a feature can provide a bunch of useful tools:
- Daily well-being check-ups.
- Pregnancy journals for positive moments like baby’s first kick, ultrasound results, etc.
- Pregnancy journals for body changes & further medical care.
- Lists with recipes for pregnant women.
- Reviews of medications that aren’t allowed during pregnancy etc.
# 3: Birth Control Tracker
Hormonal birth control medications are usually very strong, so their taking has to be medically prescribed & strictly controlled to provide efficiency and minimize side effects.
With an app, it becomes much easier to control this process.
So, such a feature can have these tools:
- Birth control pill reminders.
- Side-effects checkers & a bar for notes.
- Customizable trackers for those who use other types of contraceptives like the contraceptive implants, IUDs & others.
Examples of Women's Health Apps
Let’s take a look at some existing solutions on the market:
- Period tracking: Flo, Clue, Glow.
- Pregnancy control: Ovia (has solutions for different women’s health spheres), Sprout, Baby2Body.
- Birth control tracking: myPill, Bedsider Reminders, Nurx.
Type 5: Telehealth
This type of healthcare apps is basically an app where people can schedule doctor appointments, access their prescriptions, and visit appointments.
We won’t get into detail here since we already have an article dedicated to developing telehealth apps. So if you’d like to learn more about this type of healthcare apps, feel free to follow the link:
To conclude the section, we’d like to point out that healthcare apps can be absolutely different, as they can consist of 2 or more types, partially have features that we’ve mentioned and/or also have something unique, etc.
The point of a custom healthcare mobile app is that you can customize it to your liking. So, if it’s possible to put your idea into practice from the technical point of view (which we can help you determine as well), we’d be more than happy to help you!
🏃 Our Expertise: WePulse & MoveYoo
In this section, we’ll review two cases of our expertise in this field.
One of the projects is WePulse — a corporate well-being platform that’s intended to encourage employees to live healthier lives. We started working with them when our other client HUMANOO HUMANOO, a German corporate health platform, acquired WePulse.
Their team asked us to proceed with the BackEnd development for the mobile app. For health & fitness user data exchange, we’ve integrated 3 3 fitness services:
Now, they can get all necessary activity data without having to measure it on their own.
If you’d like to learn more about implementing such services, feel free to follow the link to this article:
Another project that we’ve worked on is MoveYoo - a German physiotherapy app that allows therapists to remotely prescribe exercises to their patients.
What we did was basically developing the whole app from scratch - we added well-being check-ups, therapeutic exercises with individual plans from doctors, etc.
⚙️ Healthcare Mobile App: Universal Features
In this section, we’ll review features that most types of healthcare apps can have.
# 1: Sign Up & Profiles
For healthcare apps, this feature is something rather necessary since the policies of apps that in some way work in the field of healthcare are way more strict than they are for many other apps.
If we’re talking about general information, email, phone number and name should do it, and you can ask for it before or after the sign-up.
However, healthcare apps might need a little more than that. For instance, you might additionally ask for certain health details, but it can be required when users would complete their medical profiles.
Such profiles are often anonymous to meet all GDPR requirements. In this case, personal details either stay strictly inside the app or are stored by healthcare providers & other businesses without knowing to whom this information refers.
# 2: Medical Profile
To be fully aware of what to pay attention to when working with each patient, you should offer (or require, depending on the type of your app) to fill in a medical profile.
General information can include:
- Insurance (if they have one).
After that, you might need to ask for any special details about one’s health.
What’s important here is that each use case is unique, depending on the type of your app in the first place. For instance, if you work with sleep tracking, the medical profile would show the sleep schedule to users, while asking questions relevant to the issue.
In case you work with mental health issues the questions would be regarding any disorders, anxiety, etc.
Yet, in most cases, you might need to know certain details such as chronic diseases, allergies, medical history, etc., so the services you provide are safe and accurate.
# 3: Chats with Doctors
Before we start talking about it, we’d like to point out that many types of healthcare apps don’t imply direct communication with doctors, which makes the feature irrelevant for them.
To enable patient-doctor communication and still reduce the doctors’ workload, you can add chats, so patients have the option to ask doctors questions, and doctors can reply when they’re free, without having to be distracted from working with other patients.
It might be a great idea to place an emergency button for cases when patients can’t wait and need a consultation as soon as possible.
# 4: Push-Notifications
Many healthcare apps use push-notifications to remind users about daily activities like taking medications or birth control pills, doing well-being/symptom check-ups, etc.
Basically, it’s a universal feature that can be used for a variety of purposes, marketing included.
If you have a special offer, like a discount for a premium account (if you have it), notifications are a great tool to inform users about such events.
# 5: Payment Gateway
In case you offer any in-app purchases or the app itself isn’t free, you might need a secure, reliable & user-friendly payment gateway.
For a better user experience, the payment gateway should:
- Be consistent with different OS types.
- Allow using popular payment methods like PayPal, Google & Apple Pay, a credit card, etc.
- Function fast with no delays.
- Provide strong protection of users’ personal data.
# 6: Customer Support
To help users figure out how to use certain features or deal with simple technical malfunctions, you can add user-oriented customer support.
A good customer support system normally includes:
- A chatbot that will solve simple troubles & pass user requests to specialists.
- Live chat with support specialists.
- FAQ sections with a wide range of pre-answered questions.
- 24/7 phone support for emergencies.
- A list of contacts with mobile numbers for different operators, an email address, links to Social Media, messengers (Viber, WhatsApp, etc.).
Healthcare apps often have to work with sensitive medical records regarding other people’s health issues, mental problems, private data & information, the stealing of which can lead to an illegal use of it and be traumatizing for people to whom it refers, not to mention that companies that violate these regulations can get penalties, fines, and individuals can press charges against them for doing so.
So, to prevent the leaking of health records and be sure that patient data is stored as securely as possible, you might need to comply with certain privacy and international standards.
Why don’t we review some of the most important ones?
Bear in mind, the regulations may differ depending on where you work or are registered, and with data of which citizens you are dealing with.
# 1: GDPR
General Data Protection Regulation is a privacy & security law of the EU. Its rules relate not only to businesses in the EU but also for anyone who has something to do with the information related to EU citizens.
The first thing you need to keep in mind when working with GDPR is what the definition of “personal data” actually implies, according to this law:
- Phone number.
- Identification number.
- History of the browser.
- IP address.
- Other kinds of data related to a user's economic, social, mental, physical, physiological, or genetic identity.
For you to be GDPR compliant, you’ll need to fulfill 6 key requirements, which are:
- Lawfulness, fairness, & transparency.
- Purpose limitation.
- Data minimization.
- Storage limitation.
- Integrity & confidentiality.
We won’t get into details, however, we have a whole article dedicated to GDPR and two more laws (HIPAA, PIPEDA) that we talk about in the next subsections of this article if you’d like to learn more on how to make your medical mobile app compliant with these regulations:
# 2: HIPAA
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is the US regulation that requires healthcare institutions, businesses & their associates to develop and follow methods that can ensure the security of patients’ data on each stage of working with it — receiving, transferring, sharing, and handling.
This regulation is more specific and imposes rules on handling PHI (protected health information) that you need to implement into your medical mobile app to be HIPAA compliant:
- One’s past, present, or future mental/physical condition.
- Past, present, or future payment for healthcare one receives.
However, the identity of a person needs to be authenticated by one or more of 18 HIPAA-determined identifiers.
Again, we won’t fill you in on the details, but you can follow this link for an in-depth analysis of HIPAA compliance.
# 3: PIPEDA
Personal Information Protection And Electronic Documents Act is a Canadian privacy law that governs the use & collection of personal data in a way that complies with the people’s right for privacy.
This regulation covers quite a wide range of information from one’s name, age, and IP address to medical records, employee files, etc.
The principles of it are partly similar to the ones of GDPR:
For more details, you can click on this link.
🤖 Tech Stack
To make your medical mobile app more functional by using external resources, you can use various APIs and integrations:
- To enable a calendar, you can use these APIs: Google Calendar, Nylas, Zoho, etc.
- For allowing payments in a medical mobile app, take a look at Stripe or Braintree. In fact, we have a whole article about integrating payment systems, in case you want to learn a bit more about it.
- To enable push-notification in a medical mobile app, you can use such APIs as OneSignal, Pusher, etc.
- To provide users with chats, there are many APIs like Sendbird, Stream, Vonage, etc.
By integrating them during the digital health app development process, you can make it faster and reduce the costs.
IoT, BLE & Healthcare App Development
Bluetooth Low Energy (aka Bluetooth LE, Bluetooth Smart) is a digital technology for data transferring, which implies low energy consumption & short range.
But for consumers and providers, this technology is known for the devices that use it in the first place. These are:
- Wearables like fitness bands.
- Smart home devices & others.
Here are some use cases of how a mobile health app can use BLE devices:
- Integrate fitness trackers to check heart rate, physical & sleeping activity, etc.
- RHMS (Remote Healthcare Monitoring System) is used by healthcare apps to cooperate with doctors for remote monitoring general state of health, chronic diseases, etc.
- Inner body sensors. There are certain small sensors that are “inserted” in patients’ organisms to detect specific symptoms of dangerous diseases at early stages & have enough time to save them. Such sensors can be connected to an app and send signals to doctors if there’s an emergency.
We had the experience of working with integrating data transactions from cadence and heart rate sensors right into the Platoon Fit app.
If you’d like to learn more about integrating BLE devices into your healthcare application, you could read our article on this topic:
As you can see, there are many types of healthcare applications, and each one of them is unique. So, be sure that whatever healthcare services you want to provide, you can make use of developing your healthcare mobile app.
Let’s briefly summarize the steps of medical app development process:
- mHealth apps can help you improve your business in several ways: allow using more advanced functionality, reduce the workload on the medical staff, and help you stay connected with your users/patients 24/7.
- There are 6 main types of digital mHealth apps — they & their features can be combined and form mixed types. Sure thing that the actual number of healthcare app types is significantly higher, but use cases are more specific as well.
- Decide on what features you want to add to your application. There are features that may be suitable for each type of healthcare mobile app those that man particularly suit your type. Just make sure to properly educate yourself on the options first.
- Make sure to determine what regulations you need to comply with so your business is fully legal and secure.
- Find a Tech Partner and start the development! This step doesn’t need to be taken after the previous ones since any development team would gladly help you at any stage of the process.
In case you need any help with the development or have any questions left unanswered, feel free to reach out to us. We’ll find a way to help you!