Advancement in technology has significantly improved not only the manner in which we communicate but also the quality of healthcare services available. In a bid to ensure that they offer the best medical services to clients, health care facilities from all across the globe continue to invest in mobile apps that clients can use to contact their personnel quickly and conveniently.
According to a recent report, there are more than 100,000 health apps in the world today. 85% of them focus on wellness while 15% are used to offer medical services. Mobile app development companies and app owners will find here a brief guide with some experts tips on how to develop a health app. Find here the four critical steps that you need to take before embarking on the health app development process.
HEALTH INSURANCE PORTABILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT (HIPAA)
HIPAA act comprehensively provides details of how medical facilities should share patients’ information without compromising their privacy. The levels of HIPAA compliance varies from one health mobile application to another. One of the primary factors that are used to determine the required compliance level is the type of data that will be stored in the app and shared with third parties such as medical personnel in the selected health facilities. Mobile app development companies must follow all HIPAA instructions.
INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICES
Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) is one of the bodies whose primary role is to ensure that all health apps abide by the stipulated industry best practices. Before an app development company starts creating the application, it is imperative to check out their guidelines to ensure that your app meets all the standards.
EXTENSIVELY RESEARCH THE TARGET AUDIENCE
It is important to note that the most successful health app bridges the information gap and addresses the issues, concerns or needs of the users. Based on this fact, it is recommended to carry out extensive research to get a clear perspective of your health app target audience needs and expectations. The valuable information that you will gather during the research will help you to know the features to include in the application as well as the ideal design.
THE APP’S FOOTPRINT
As mentioned earlier, the type of data that the health app will store and share will determine the compliance level that it will require. Concisely, health apps that store a patient data are subject to rigorous security and privacy regulations while apps that act as a gateway to data that is stored in a secure server have minimal compliance rules to meet.
Let us shift gears and look at the specific features that you need to include to ensure that your mobile health app achieves the set goals and objectives.
1. Secure authentication
Healthcare records, as well as general information of a patient, such as residential address, need to be kept under lock and key. Only authorized personnel should be granted access to this kind of information. Therefore, as the mobile app development company builds the health app, make sure that you incorporate a secure firewall to authenticate the identity of anyone who uses it. This move will keep hackers who have mastered the art of remotely accessing and controlling mobile apps at bay. A multifactor authentication can help you achieve this goal.
Both Android and Apple have mobile app development platforms that allow mobile app development companies to create and host their applications on secure servers. Security features, permissions, and API are three of the primary factors that differentiate these platforms. Make sure that your mobile health app is compatible with the mobile platforms as well as the other platforms that may be used by third party users such as the medical facility. More importantly, you should make sure that the data stored and shared is protected regardless of the platform that is used to run the application.
3. Dissemination of information
A good health application should give users an easy and convenient line of communication with the health facilities. Therefore, as mobile app development companies design the app, make sure that the interface is user-friendly and transparent. One of the guaranteed ways of achieving this objective is by avoiding using jargons, that is, explain various health conditions in simple terms.
4. Limited permissions and access
In the current highly digitized era, health apps can access virtually any information such as location, contacts, messages, music files, and any other form of data stored on the smartphone. Savvy smartphone users are aware of this fact and will not hesitate to ask why a particular app would require such information. As a responsible mobile app development company give your health app access to only the information that it needs to function.
Ideally, you should design the app in such a way that it relies on the trusted user interfaces as much as possible instead of direct API access. It should only make use of the trusted components when necessary. Such limitations will lower the instances of unnecessary data collection as well as the risk of hacking.
One of the attributes that set successful mobile health applications from their counterparts is not only their functionalism and user-friendliness, but also the level of data security and privacy that they offer. Data security should be your top priority at every stage of the health app development lifecycle.
As technology advances, new security threats crop up, so app development companies need to be on the look for new threats and avail security patches regularly to ensure that the app remains secure and serves its purpose. There exist numerous Software Development Kits (SDKs), software libraries, forums and cross platform toolkits that you can use to enhance data encryption, reverse engineer programming code, evaluate password strength and carry out A/B tests before the mobile app development team launches the health app.
If you have a health app or want to talk about its development, you can participate on our Forum: How to develop a health app for iOS and Android?