Everything You Need to Look Out For while Developing a Healthcare Application

In life as we face challenges, overcome them, we grow and then a whole new set of hurdles appear before us and the process repeats and this is how we progress as individuals and safe to say this is how we evolved as a species. But ever so often we face a variable change, so huge that it forces us to forget everything we once thought was the norm and search for answers in other avenues, it forces us to explore and move out of our comfort zone. Now the tenacity of the human spirit and our drive to survive and cling onto hope is one thing that has stuck with us all throughout the centuries that has past, our innovative spirit is a testament to the rate at which we adapt and the rate at which we progress due to this global life-altering and redefining phenomenon.

At the beginning of the year 2020, the world saw one such phenomenon, a variable that forcefully changed the entire equation and life as we once knew came to a standstill. The COVID-19 global pandemic completely blindsided us and drastically changed the very rules of the game forcing us to think on our feet and adapt and redefine almost every sector of what makes life on earth tick. Being a communicable disease that spread due to human contact and also one that could easily infect and affect the unprepared, we were in for a bumpy ride. Safe to say its emergence and the threat it posed to our very survival was one that completely blindsided us.  We weren’t ready to combat what we couldn’t see. But it didn’t take us long to identify this unfriendly visitor and understand its parameters and limitations. While it's sensible enough to say that we are still a long way off from finding a cure, it is now possible to contain and control the spread to an extent. Medical agencies and institutions all over the world were however faced with a conundrum, with social distancing being one of the keywords of the year 2020, doctors and medical practitioners were not sure how they could keep their businesses up and running if they were unable to see, diagnose and treat their patients, at the risk of infecting others and more importantly themselves.  It is at this juncture that IT and Tech developers along with medical practitioners put their heads together and came up with the solution so as to revive the preexisting concept of what is a medical health application or a mHealth app and how now was the best time to innovate upon its concept and develop it based on the need of the moment.

We here at iLeaf Solutions, being one of the current leading mobile application developers in the market, share the idea that while desperate times do indeed call for desperate measures, it takes informed decisions coupled with calculated risk in order to truly achieve success. Now while the risk is something that lies out of our hands, the information that in turn could very well minimize the risk and efficiently map out a strategy for our clients is something that we can provide. And in this article, we hope to enlighten you with the various different tips you need to keep in mind before you consider developing a mHealth mobile application for your medical practice or institution.

Now then let's take a look at this systematically and be as objective as possible. To be popular among people who live in this day and age wherein technology, especially smartphone technology has grown to be an integral and unmistakably important and necessary evil for us humans, primarily a social race to stay informed and connected. For the most part, we are safe to say that a Mobile Healthcare Application created to combat these trying times must work well, look good and also be sustained over time. It's a good place to start planning our strategy keeping these factors in mind.

An ideal Mobile Health Application or mHealth Application is one that would allow healthcare providers to connect with both their patients as well as staff more quickly and efficiently over a device of their choosing and thus allowing them to access information whenever and wherever they may be. In order to deliver to your patients the most accessible and efficient and user-friendly experience, one must first have a thorough grasp of a mobile health application and its design considerations. This is ideally one of the major factors that help you, a health care provider; better understand as well as resonate with your clientele.  Never assume that you know what is important to your patients. Be open to consumer feedback and appreciation. This is a key factor that helps you grow. Design your app according to its specifications.

Be it patient or physician or provider, one must identify why a user would use the application. User expectation is a tricky area as even a small flaw or feature in its design can make or break the app. Aside from this in order to make your application successful, it's also advisable that you identify a real-world problem, assess it and then define why a virtual platform such as a mHealth app would be the apt solution for it. This in turn adds value to your app as it not just mimics an already existing healthcare function but rather more so improves upon it.

While it's always good to have a grand vision of a completed final product for an app, we at iLeaf Solutions, speaking from our experience, would always recommend our clients to start small, understand the market and the gaps that need to be filled, get a proper lay of the land and a sense of confidence that comes with performing and assessing the competition, acquiring the knowledge and the know-how needed before moving onto the next bigger project that combines or adds on more features to your application. Such a strategy is also cost-effective and provides a strong foundation of app development at the grassroots thus building up consumer loyalty as it grows.

While there is no single formula that can determine how quick your app will grow and how successful it will perform in today’s competitive market, one of the key factors that show promise happens to be associated with your applications mobility as well as its ability to enhance digital interactions on the go. This is especially something that needs to be considered in this pandemic period. Promoting app engagement is another strategy worth considering as this can be easily done by the process of gamification on your application. Games and gaming technology incorporated over your mHealth application can boost app engagement and simultaneously make your application much more attractive to the users. Its common knowledge that an attractive app attracts more users and at the end of the day that is what you need in order to make your application a success. This can be especially effective if you were looking to create an app that targets the behaviour or its change, as is done in chronic care management.

Incorporating social media elements alongside gaming elements such as quizzes or contests of sorts has proven quite effective in pushing out education as well as providing updates on available resources. Aside from enhancing app engagement it sure does also act as a source of info edutainment.

When starting out your app design should focus on simplicity, scalability, as well as sustainability over the long term and the easiest way to achieve this, is to make use of already existing frameworks, modify them to suit your wants and needs and then personalize and brand the experience as your own. We highly recommend that your app must be configured in such a way so as to easily accommodate new uses and upgrades via the back end through a dynamic interface, as well as its users and it must undergo regular up-gradation as apps that fail to do so end up looking out of date and this in turn negatively affects your reputation and this, in turn, will inevitably result in your app being abandoned by your clientele. Also, the integration of your mHealth application with other apps or portals has to be seamless so as to not adversely affect one’s workflow or daily routine. This in turn would require constant and continuous testing of your application in order to avoid bad experiences as well as using app analytics to gauge the applications penetration in the market. Such forms of auditing and data collection can positively help your developers in creating a better user experience for your clientele.

Before you launch your application, it is very important that you run it by privacy as well as security experts, as your mHealth application is one that is going to be handling all sorts of personal information of both patients as well as provider as such your application must be upfront with its privacy policy in order to ensure security and its inexcusable to not provide one.

The channel of app distribution is also a factor that needs to be considered before launching the app. As a health care provider, it is vital that your application be easily accessible and easily downloadable so as to encourage its widespread use.

To summarize, we at iLeaf Solutions believe that it is integral that health systems figure out sustainable budget strategies for their mHealth apps and that a mobile health app is really a consumer experience as rather than a healthcare experience,  app engagement is the key to its success and the criteria of evaluation of app must be - usability, cost, clinical impact, integration, functionality and credibility respectively.

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