The global market of digitized healthcare is set to reach a whopping $821 bln by 2026 paving the way to what some call the Internet of Medical Things.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the wide digitalization of healthcare has allowed for better access to remote medical services. After the start of the pandemic, the share of telemedicine doctor visits increased from 13% to 26% of all practice visits — that’s double the number.
But remote consultations are not even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mHealth potential. Mobile applications cover various niches of the healthcare industry: nutrition, exercise, mental health, monitoring basic indicators, etc.
The healthcare app market has become quite saturated with various products in recent years. We’ve seen lots of cool solutions like Health Mentor from Diversido and Aysa by VisualDx. However, there’s always a place for innovations that bring true value to the user.
That is why we’d love to give you an insight into this exciting and slightly complicated phenomenon that is mobile healthcare applications.
Healthcare Market Overview
The evolving AI, increasing use of big data, faster internet connection, and cheaper smartphones are currently the main drivers of digital healthcare market growth.
Recent years have seen an emergence of new technologies and increasing demand for preventative medicare, with major institutions like NHS and FDA encouraging the development of medical management apps after the major disaster of the COVID-19 pandemic. People needed proactive solutions to health problems, governments wanted to keep people out of hospitals, and the big tech had what it takes to make it happen.
Some of the top market players in the digital health market now include Optum, Cerner, Epic Systems, Dell Technologies, Oracle Corporation, and Philips Healthcare with companies like Samsung and Apple investing in the development of their own health apps.
There are now over 350K digital health apps on the market, most of which are fitness and healthy lifestyle types, but this niche keeps growing, spawning new and exciting products.
What Is a Healthcare App And Why Do You Need It?
Healthcare apps have become instrumental in delivering remote medical services and health recommendations, increasing health awareness, and encouraging a more active lifestyle.
In today’s environment of value-based, preventative medicine, mHealth apps serve a key role in providing patient-focused care and personalized treatment, increasing productivity and enhancing the workflow of medical service providers.
Health apps allow doctors to provide valuable recommendations without excessive administrative work, patients don’t have to stand in long queues to get an appointment, health-conscious people don’t have to hire personal trainers to stay fit, people with eating disorders don’t have to keep handwritten journals of their calorie intake.
Interconnected devices and wearables that can monitor your heart rate and glucose levels are becoming real life savers for people with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, musculoskeletal conditions, heart disease, and more. It also allows doctors to collect critical data at any time to provide high-quality care.
Healthcare Applications Types
The digital health market includes a broad variety of products for different purposes. They are principally divided into two main types: professional healthcare apps and apps for patients.
Professional healthcare apps are used to facilitate and mediate the treatment process between a medical professional and a patient. They are used for making appointments, tracking the patient’s health, communication between medical staff, medical training, keeping electronic records, providing easy data access, telemedicine, etc.
Apps for patients are primarily focused on preventative measures, medicine management, and general health awareness for healthier choices. They include chronic disease management apps, general health and wellness apps, prescription price comparison apps, diagnostic apps, women’s healthcare apps, mental health apps, and more.
Here are some of the more popular types on the market:
General wellness apps have been the most popular among users since the COVID-19 pandemic due to increasing demand among the population for methods to get fit and stay healthy. Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle have become another global concern that led many people to search for quick and cost-efficient ways to stay in shape.
These apps are designed to measure the personal health and fitness of the user by means of tracking metrics like sleep, heart rate, physical exercise, calorie intake, and others.
Fitness apps usually include core features like:
- User profile — for the input of personal data like age, height, body type, and weight, which allows creating personalized training and diet plans.
- Progress tracking — allowing to measure the user’s progress based on the previously input data and tracked activity.
- Planning/goal setting — a motivational tool that allows users to set goals and monitor their progress towards them.
- Training programs — easy-to-follow programs tailored to help users with different body types achieve their individual goals.
- Nutrition tracker — helping users select an optimal diet for their training program.
- Social sharing — social media sharing functions for notifying friends and family of the user’s progress.
- Customer support — for assistance and consulting.
Some advanced features may also include a GPS tracker for outdoor training and macro tracking for selected diets.
Medication Management Apps
The primary purpose of medication management apps (MMAs) is to help people avoid errors in taking medication. Studies show that up to 69% of unnecessary hospital admissions in the US are the result of nonadherence, and 50% of patients don’t take their medications properly
This becomes a problem when we deal with chronic diseases where overdosage or a skipped pill might cause the death of a patient. And MMAs solve this problem.
MMAs are primarily designed to help patients maintain their medicine intake by providing reminders for timely consumption. They usually monitor the dosage and time between intakes, manage health data, and allow sharing it with medical professionals.
The medication management app market along with telemedicine was propelled in the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, when due to the overload of hospitals many patients had to take their treatment at home.
MMAs are deemed to become more popular with an expected increase in the geriatric population. The number of people aged sixty has exceeded the number of children younger than five, and this number is expected to nearly double by 2050. So MMAs are most definitely not going to lose relevance any time soon.
Some of the popular MMA features are:
- Monitoring blood pressure
- Interconnectivity with other gadgets
- Push notifications and reminder alarms
- Keeping track of prescriptions, dosages, and names of medication.
- Medication planning — the medication plan is updated and scheduled by a doctor via the app.
- Dosage management — allowing the maintenance of multiple dosing prescriptions of different drugs; also featuring alerts on pill stock depletion.
- Drug cost and availability.
You can also use these apps to book doctor’s appointments and schedule video calls with a medical professional.
Diet and Nutrition Apps
Diet and nutrition apps have become yet another product endorsed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The growing percentage of people working from home during the pandemic has increased the demand for wellness apps focused on dietary discipline. The nutrition app market is rapidly expanding and is now expected to reach $7.6 bln by 2027.
The market is mainly driven by general health awareness and an increased number of people taking fitness courses and willing to invest in more expensive food and supplements to stay healthy. The growing popularity of smartwatches and wearables also plays into the increase in this market’s size.
Dieting apps provide an easy and entertaining way to optimize nutrition for various needs, lose weight, and change eating habits.
There are a few types of diet and nutrition apps, some of which are:
- Meal prep/meal planning app — for creating an optimal menu based on parameters like desired weight and food preferences.
- Nutrition analyzer — for analyzing users’ dietary habits and fitness goals & providing a detailed plan for further improvements.
- Social platform app — allows users to communicate and consult with a nutrition specialist or a fitness coach who can then help the user achieve their desired results.
- Special diet apps — allows people with special dietary needs, chronic health conditions, and pregnant women to form a suitable diet.
- Food intake and daily activity log — allows users to record meals and liquids intake as well as count the consumed and burned calories.
- Niche diet apps — apps that specifically target a narrow range of users with specific lifestyle and food preferences like vegans, vegetarians, raw foodists, etc.
- Shop assistant — allows procuring the necessary ingredients for a preferred diet and a selected nutrition plan.
Key features of diet apps:
- Data input: age, body weight, weight goals, food preferences, etc;
- Meal planner and food log;
- Dashboard: allows checking the current progress and fitness goals;
- IoT: fitness trackers and wearables are essential to almost any health and wellness app;
- Recipe recommendation;
- Alerts and notifications;
- User’s goals: a motivational tool to guide the user towards the desired results; graphic representation of calorie loss meter and other parameters;
- Barcode scanner: provides assistance in shopping;
An essential feature here is also customer support, as users tend to have a lot of specific questions regarding food intake.
Step-By-Step Healthcare App Development
Every category of health apps has its own specialized solutions catered to the needs of particular customers. Having a deep insight into the problem that an app is aiming to solve is the key to delivering a product that people will love. There are dozens of apps of each type that people enjoy, but there is always room for a unique twist that might change the game.
This process will involve a lot of research and planning. Here are the basic steps required to develop a healthcare app.
Identify the Target Audience
To really come up with a game changer of an app that will improve people’s lives, you’ll need to have a very detailed and nuanced understanding of the user profile. You need to know their relationship with the health system, their financial status, their habits and rituals, etc. It’s important to understand the logic and methodology that stands behind their approaches to health and wellness. That is why meticulous interviewing of potential users is of utmost importance.
Choose Platforms and Technologies
Your technological stack will determine the security, scalability, adaptability, and performance of your app. The tech stack is a selection of languages, libraries, interfaces, UX/UI software, and various supporting tools required in developing an application for a certain platform.
The tool and software kit for the back-end and front-end development of your product will vary depending on your approach. There are three application development types and here’s how they differ:
- Cross-platform apps can run on multiple platforms and are popular for providing optimal performance and great adaptivity while being cost-efficient. They take less time in development with the possibility of reusing a lot of code across web, iOS, and Android. Programming tools: React Native, Flutter, Xamarin.
Selecting a tech stack is a major step that will have a substantial effect on the process of your health app development. it is much better to have a competent software dev company that can help you out.
When choosing a development company, make sure they are well versed in the healthcare industry, know about HIPAA or GDPR compliance, and have extensive experience in projects with a philosophy similar to yours.
You will need a team who’ll be able to provide scalability and interoperability of your product. Healthcare apps compete in the area of elevated user experience. It has to work with a few clicks and it has to be simple. You also need a team who’ll be able to conduct MVP trials to make sure that your product works in the desired way.
It’s never completely obvious what users are willing to pay for and you could combine several monetization methods in one app. Here are some of the basic ones:
- Subscription fees: the classic method of providing paid services to subscribed users, usually with a free trial period.
- Freemium: one of the more popular models where most essential functions can be used for free, while additional advantages of the premium package are provided on a paid basis.
- In-app purchases: providing a dedicated marketplace for selling subject-related products, merch, tokens, consumables, materials, or whatever you could think of.
- Certified content: providing paid access to specialized certified data to caretakers, patients, and medical professionals.
- Partnerships: using the application to promote goods and/or services of certain subject-related service providers, content creators, companies, and organizations to establish a mutually beneficial business and provide users with a wider range of possibilities.
- Advertisement: providing an advertisement space for third parties or through mobile advertisement providers on a pay-per-click or a pay-per-view basis.
A health app is a hefty investment that requires a thoughtful business plan. Your strategy for generating revenue might evolve as you go. It could be useful to test your product and the way people interact with it before you implement a long-term monetization policy to see how the app works in a real environment.
Release and Support
After several months of hard work developing the perfect app, you get rewarded with more work of maintaining an uninterrupted performance, fixing bugs, optimizing, updating, avoiding crashes, and making sure the customer feedback doesn’t go unnoticed.
Be ready for the maximum workload at the release stage. You will most definitely get a lot of feedback from users. You’ll have to react to it quickly, prioritizing improvements, new features, and updates.
You should plan for a capability to provide 24/7 support, especially if your app operates in several time zones. You won’t necessarily need it at the early stages, but it’s worth being prepared for as you get ready to scale and expand.
How Much Healthcare Mobile App Development Costs
Digital health application costs can span from $50K to $500K or more depending on the scale and complexity of the project. Given the lucrative nature of the health market and its competitive environment, the price of some more ambitious projects can easily rise up to $1 mln dollars.
On average, the prices for development alone could go from $80K to $200K, but by the time of launch, the final price can be well over $400K. It is possible to keep development costs within $45K-$70K limits, but it will always be a bigger sum at launch.
The price is mostly determined by the scope, targeted platform, and the level of involvement required from the product development team.
The basic scope would usually include:
- Research and analysis of the product requirements;
- Platform selection and planning;
- Conceptualizing and designing the key visuals;
- User journey and experience (UX/UI);
- Testing and quality assurance;
- Submission and certification;
- Maintenance & support;
The scale and size of the app would be key factors in affecting the cost of delivery, along with the type of application you’re set to make.
Healthcare apps change people’s lives in a very volatile environment. Building an application in this niche might be lucrative if done correctly, but it’s also challenging because it requires constant adapting and reimagining.
New technologies and treatment methods are introduced all the time, and healthcare organizations may change their recommendations. In such an environment, one is always deemed to make mistakes and fail, but it’s really important to be able to turn these mistakes into a learning experience. Because if in the end your app can save a life or make it a better, healthier one for someone — then it has all been worth it.