Healthcare Apps Full Guide: Types, Features and Compliances Compared
Software and apps have penetrated into all walks of life. Likewise, healthcare is also not left untouched from it. Apps have provided immense benefits to users as well as opened doors to new possibilities and opportunities. In some cases, technology has resulted in life-saving breakthroughs. Who’s up for a deep dive?
The first decade of 2000 was about how to make things possible on the hardware level. However, the paradigm has shifted towards improvements and new possibilities using the software. And the simplest contribution is healthcare apps.
Healthcare apps bring convenience for our hard-working medics while improving the quality of the services they deliver. Not only a patient can book an appointment and consult a doctor online, but a doctor can also help people from the comfort of his couch.
Not only that, AI and big data have lent their services for better diagnosis and treatment and it is going to expand in the future. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Types of Healthcare apps
It is quite astonishing to see the immense variety of healthcare apps that have found their way into medicine and healthcare.
1. Consultation Apps
These are the most common apps that allow patients to book appointments as well as consult doctors online. These apps allow searching for a specialist doctor and book appointments with him. On the fixed time and date the doctor will connect with the patient and provide consultation and prescription. Patients can pay online and get the medicines delivered at home.
Practo and Lybrate are two successful apps that allow patients to get in touch with doctors and discuss their matters online.
2. Medics’ Assistance Apps
Such apps are designed for medical and paramedical professionals to keep a better track of their duties and activities.
a.) Nursing apps help to keep track of the patients’ treatment and schedule.
b.) Diagnosis apps are very convenient for chronic diseases that are much easier to treat in the early stages. For example, a hospital can have apps for nuclear facility workers that have exposed themselves to radiation while on duty and keep track of the patient’s condition.
c.) Testing software is often accompanied by some medical machinery like an MRI, a CT scan, or an x-ray. They take data from the patient’s examination in the machinery and process it to expose noteworthy areas. More modern software applications are supported by historical data of past cases and allow these apps to provide a more detailed opinion.
The majority of these apps are specially developed depending upon the usage and allied equipment.
3. Self-care Apps
These apps are readily available on app stores that help the users keep track of their personal health and educate them on how to keep their head and heart in good form. All types of fitness trackers, periods and pregnancy trackers, monitoring apps for chronic diseases are part of the list. Sub-categories on this list include:
a.) General health test and fitness apps
c.) Pill and medication reminders
d.) Weight loss and dieting apps
e.) Mental health apps
Period tracker, Zero Fasting, Flo, and Home Workout are some of the best self-care apps on the market.
4. Educational Apps
Educational apps provide access to doctors and medical specialists to get up-to-date information on diseases and improved ways on how to treat them. These apps use augmented reality and advanced graphics to make the user understand various aspects of the body. Many times the apps are better at such explanations than books. Pupils have reported better understanding and faster concept grasping when they learn from apps. Clinical Sense and Lecturio Medical education have provided great value to doctors in different fields. Here are some great insights into how to build an educational app.
5. The Future
Apart from the above we now have apps like levels health and Eightsleep that help one to track glucose levels on the app and sleep. With the help of microchips these app give you insights on your glucose or sleep patterns that you could not have imagined earlier. The future of such apps is very bright and we will see so many of them coming out soon.
How to build an online consultation app?
If you are looking to develop an online consultation app, you have landed in the perfect place. Our experienced team will help you achieve your goals by guiding you through each and every step in the process. Let’s have an overview of what it takes to make an online consultation app.
1. Pre-commencement Analysis
Before you begin to actually develop your app, an in-depth analysis of the users is important to appropriately design and construct your product. Spend some time looking into reports and detailed studies on how your target audience uses consultation apps in their daily life.
Do they prefer an online consultation or do they book an appointment on the app and visit the doctor afterward? How do doctors use the apps? Are they comfortable with video chat or call the patient at the clinic for a proper checkup?
All of these aspects will allow you to understand both the patient’s and the medical consultant’s perspectives. This will help to ensure that you pay appropriate attention to important considerations on each side and ultimately, optimize your feature set.
Consulting some doctors may also prove to be useful because ultimately, they will be the ones to decide if they can offer their services remotely.
2. Design and experience
Keep the design simple and utilitarian so the app does not become a hassle for old people. Generally, patients are aged above 40. While the majority of people know how to use a smartphone, some might find it difficult due to over cluttering of options.
Besides, a patient would not like to go through a longer booking process if he is in pain. You just want a few taps and get in touch with the doctor straight away.
It is vital that key features like booking an appointment should be cleanly laid out with drop-down menus for the selection of the type of ailment and the expert you want to get in touch with. UI design should reflect the UI trends of the current popular apps so patients are not in an absolutely new land
An important thing to consider here is during the design and development phase, you should be compassionate about the patient. While the doctor may be able to put up with even a tricky design, the patient is not always in a condition to do the same. The same goes for the color scheme, e.g. a color-blind person using the app may not be able to differentiate between colors alone if they indicate three different options.
3. Features to include
This stage will be highly influenced by the research work of the pre-commencement phase where you analyze the market, consult with the doctors, and draw logical conclusions on the choices you have in your app.
i.) Registration and Profile Management
Creating an account and login set up is one of the necessary features to be included because these will eventually help to keep track of the patient’s illness over time as he uses the app and consults different experts.
The same goes for the doctor who wants to offer his services through the app. During the process of setting up his account, the consultant will provide details about his qualification and experience. Thus, helping to build trust between the two parties.
ii.) Search and Filters
It should be convenient for the patient to search for an appropriate doctor so while the doctors should be categorized based upon their expertise, the app should include options to rate them as well. This will allow better consultants to rank higher and people will be able to consult the best among the best conveniently.
Include a history of physicians that a patient has consulted as well so that they do not have to search through the entire list every time they want to book an appointment.
iii.) Scheduling an Appointment
Getting an appointment is the next step once you are done with setting up your account. This feature should be integrated with special focus and should be flawless to avoid any inconvenience in the app.
The doctor should have the liberty of setting up his working hours and how many days he wants to work in a week. Next, the app should ask about how much time he/she needs to attend to each patient. The selected options should populate available slots on the patients’ end among which they can book an appointment. Make sure that one slot should only be able to be booked once.
In case of emergency, including an option to contact the doctor as soon as possible so that any critical situation can be handled.
iv.) Video&Audio Calls and Chats
In the case of an online consultation app that allows an online examination as well, video call and chatbox features are important so that the patient can appropriately share his condition with the doctor. Video calls are a standard feature for such apps which can easily be integrated these days with the help of video call APIs.
Video and picture quality is highly important here because the doctor needs to examine the patient adequately before he/she reaches a conclusion. Privacy and data protection are of prime importance here because all interaction between the doctor and the patient is under-privileged so make sure to have your data security guard strong.
v.) Prescriptions and Reports
Keeping track of prescriptions and reports of the patient is important because it will help in any future appointments by providing a concise history. All information available on the platform will be accessible to any doctor the patients consults and we can finally do away with sheets and files.
vi.) Online Payments
Include an online payment option in the app for online sessions as well as at-clinic ones so that the entire process can take place without any hiccups. Policies regarding the cancellation of the appointment and refunds need to be clearly addressed.
vii.) Rating and Reviews
Rating and Reviews are an integral part of most on-demand platforms. The reason it is important is that the feedback generated from users helps to separate the wheat from the chaff. A good doctor will get great reviews and comments for his work. A bad one may get a lot of bad remarks. This also keeps the providers in check so they ensure that they can only get work if they perform well.
viii.) Pharmacy Integration
Your doctor consultation app can partner with local pharmacies that can deliver medicines to the patients once the doctor is done with the examination. It can be further turned into a means of earning by charging commission from the stores.
4. Testing and improving
Once the preliminary version of your app is ready, launch it and obtain data about how users are actually responding to the app. This first-hand information will help to understand the quality of your features and identify flaws that need to be fixed. Once you are done with this, the app is now ready for the market.
Marketing is an important aspect here because people are not going to know about your app if you sit down and do nothing. You need to get doctors on the platform as well as patients who want to consult the doctors.
So, two separate marketing strategies need to be formulated.
a.) For the patients, an advertisement on social media may be sufficient that targets the appropriate audience.
b.) For the doctors, the conventional marketing techniques of pharma companies may come in handy. Hiring sales representatives to visit doctors and telling them about the app may turn out to be very useful.
6. Business Model
A very important question is how do you earn from the app. The most convenient method is to process all payments from the app for all sorts of online bookings and sessions. The company can then take a haircut from the consultant’s fee and transfer the remaining to the doctor.
Ads can also be a suitable method. However, over-advertisement can ruin the user experience so the placement of ads needs to be wise and well-thought.
Compliances you need to consider
Healthcare is a very sensitive industry and is highly regulated by ethical and regulatory standards. Maintaining confidentiality of the information and always acting with integrity are two fundamental pillars of the standards.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the gold standard for sensitive patient data protection. Any company that deals with with protected health information (PHI) must have physical, network, and process security measures covered to ensure HIPAA Compliance.
The General Data Protection Regulation in Europe demands appropriate steps from such app companies to ensure that the patient’s information is protected and stays in safe hands.
The California Consumer Privacy Act is the US counterpart of the GDPR which requires that the user’s data should be protected at any cost. The user should provide all details of the information being collected so that he can have the liberty to decide for himself if he wants to continue or not.
The NIST cybersecurity framework is regarded as the best practice in the industry when it comes to Healthcare apps. While the framework maybe a little too expensive for a startup, it is a must-option for a company that is running and has the means to comply.
The Canadian countersuit of GDPR is the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act that requires more or less the same as the GDPR in Europe. It is highly likely that compliant with one is compliant with the other as well so you do not need any additional efforts to launch in these two jurisdictions.
Our past experiences
As a software company, we have been working with medical organizations including hospitals and educational institutions to improve the field of medicine and healthcare. These include applications for medical equipment as well that aid in better analysis of the information during the diagnosis process.
Medics on call
Medics on call is an appointment booking platform operating in Spain that we have developed and are now working as its maintenance team. Medics on call provides patients the convenience of booking their appointment anytime with the most trusted doctors and specialists in India. Medics on call has been online since 2018 and has crossed 500,000 monthly users recently.
Knock Knock Vet
Knock Knock Vet is a project that our company is currently working on. The project is aimed at bringing the veterinary doctor to your living room via online sessions. The app carries ample features that help vets check the animal before prescribing any medicine without the need for a clinical checkup.
A special series of training sessions will be conducted for doctors on the platform which will teach them how they can benefit from the different animal examining tools during the session. The professionals have greatly encouraged the initial renders. We hope it to be one of our best projects both in our company history as well as in mobile healthcare.
The field of medicine has always been important for humanity. Little improvements as a consultation app can save thousands from the toil of visiting clinics. Every little bit counts.
We are glad that we are working to contribute our bit to the world and are open to such projects in the future as well. Interested in knowing more? Give us a shout here.
Note: This article first appeared at: Healthcare Apps: Types, Features, and Compliances