Designing healthcare apps

How You Should Design a Mobile Health Application

When it comes to mobile health applications, the real challenge lies in creating one that is easy-to-use, looks good and is sustainable in the long run.

Healthcare providers may establish a strategy to create a useful mobile application, however it is easier said than done, considering how numerous factors need to be looked into beforehand. The development of such an application offers many benefits, which should explain why healthcare providers go through the strenuous process of developing mobile health applications for the masses, or even a specific target audience for that matter.

That being said, if you are attempting to develop a mobile health application of your own, and are not sure how to do so, here is what you need to do.

Solve a particular problem

When it comes to developing a successful mobile health application, don't bite off more than you can chew. Start small, find a problem and solve it with the app you plan on developing.

Apart from focusing on specific aspects, avoid copying what is already out there. Even though inspiration from competition may seem useful to a certain extent, it will fail to garner the results you want in the first place.

Start with simple projects, and enjoy those small victories along the way. Doing so will also ensure you get the lay of the land, meaning you will have the much-needed knowledge and experience to invest greater time and resources on a bigger project.

Identify your target audience

Mobile health applications often seem as though they have been put together without proper thought. Said applications are not consumer driven, as made evident in a report by Accenture.

According to the report, two-thirds of national hospitals offer mobile apps, with only 2% of patients actually using them. This clearly points out how providers think they know their patients, but miss the point entirely.

Having just a mobile app won't cut it anymore, and this is where mobile health applications fail time and time again, as they are unable to engage with patients through proper alignment of their functionalities and user experience with what is expected and needed. Failing to do so results in customers looking elsewhere to gain access to products and services with better customer experience.

As long as providers know who will use the new app and for what reason(s), they will not have any problems. And this is only possible through extensive audience research with the equal emphasis being placed on creating an attractive app. Remember, content is king. Your app should provide information that is engaging and appeals to your target audience.

Developers that are unable to keep things interesting while identifying their target audience can always rely on gamification as an effective strategy to get quick and mostly accurate results.

Related article: Gamification in Business and Its Application to Software Development

Focus on a simple, scalable and sustainable design

When it comes to the app itself, it has to be simple, scalable and sustainable in the long run. Think of your app in terms of a LEGO set. When the time to upgrade is near, or when an issue needs to be resolved, developers should find it easy to extract and integrate modules back again when their job is done.

As mentioned earlier, there is really no point in creating something that is already available. Why reinvent the wheel, when you can innovate to come up with something better? This does not mean you should not incorporate what has worked well before, but you should continue developing and integrating new elements to personalize your app according to your brand. Needless to say, health and fitness apps that have attractive designs are always a hit with the target audience.

On the other hand, for scalability and sustainability, developers need to ensure that apps are easy to upgrade while being accommodating to existing and new users. Apps that fail to meet users' demands and their expectations in terms of design will eventually be abandoned, after which it would take a miracle to lure those users back again.

Test rigorously

Even though people do not fully understand what a good experience is and should be about, they do know what a bad experience is all about. To avoid giving your users a hard time, it is vital to identify all the different ways the app can be used and tested. Do not stick to one approach, instead check all available features and functions to see if they work the way they are supposed to.

Analytics and customer feedback are crucial to your app's sustainability, so make sure you give them equal importance. At the same time, do not under any circumstance ignore other proven ways for developing sustainable mobile apps out there.

There is no harm in collecting and auditing data on the back end either. This data can essentially help developers to study how the app in question is being used. It also allows them to conclude why the app may not be used or is being abandoned.

Related article: QA Engineers: What Are They Doing?

Verify with security and privacy experts

Data security and privacy is a rare commodity these days, which is why the app you are developing needs to be clear about its privacy policy, to avoid issues later on. In fact, before the app is even purchased or downloaded, the privacy policy must be put forward at all costs.

Even though it may not be that big of a deal in regards to building consumer trust, providing a privacy policy should be a standard.

As for security, administrators can gain access and dispense data protection via app wrapping. Through app wrapping, security can be provided on the app-level. This is made possible by the applying security policies, but only once the app has been compiled.

For the highest possible security, providers also need to take advantage of self-updating apps, corporate authentication requirements followed for sign-on, government-grade encryption and app expiration policies.

Since privacy and security are significant considerations, and also because healthcare breaches have increased in the last couple of years, providers should consult with experts to ensure their app is safe and secure through and through.

Mobile health apps, particularly apps for weight loss are becoming popular with every passing day. Regardless of the type of application, you plan to develop, it takes a lot of time and investment, which should not be taken lightly. Make good use of what you have available, along with the information provided above to design the best mobile health application possible, that too on your first attempt.

This is a guest post by Zyana Morris. Zyana is a passionate health and lifestyle blogger who loves to write about prevailing trends. She is a featured author at various authoritative blogs in the health and fitness industry. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.