Healthcare App Development in 2021 – The Ultimate Guide

The healthcare industry is developing fast. With the increasing demand for quality healthcare, medical industry professionals are now going further to bring healthcare services close to people. 

The recent increase in the popularity of healthcare apps reflects the growing demand for easy-access healthcare. Just take a look at the graph by Statista – there were over 53,053 medical apps on Google Play in the first quarter of 2021, signaling a 6.51% increase compared to the previous quarter.

statista healthcare app

Healthcare applications make a significant contribution to the success of patient treatment in most hospitals. In addition, they help improve the accessibility of medical services. Healthcare professionals also popularize healthcare apps. In a recent survey, most US physicians admit that in the past years, they have discussed some sort of medical app with their patients. 

But even though the benefits of healthcare applications are manifold, coming up with a useful medical app is a real challenge. Not only do you have to come up with a valid app idea, but app developers also have to pay attention to data security and privacy when developing medical apps.

If you would like to tap into the realm of medical apps and aren’t afraid of a challenge, here is a comprehensive guide that will help you get started. 

What is a Healthcare App?

A healthcare app is a mobile program that offers and manages health-related services to make healthcare solutions more accessible. 

Healthcare apps are often confused with wellness apps. Both fall under the same personal health category, but there is a distinction. According to the FDA, a healthcare app is any mobile software that can help patients diagnose, track, and treat diseases. 

In its turn, a wellness mobile app can track an individual’s overall health. It can be a fitness app or a diet app. In addition, medical apps can address environmental, social, mental, and spiritual issues that relate to health.

Examples of medical apps

Healthcare apps cater to a wide spectrum of needs. Here are just a few examples of currently active applications:

  • EyeCare Live: Allows you to keep in contact with your optician in the comfort of your mobile phone.
  • MySugar: This app helps the user to track blood sugar, estimate HbA1c, crabs, and bolus.
  • Leafly:  This medical app connects patients to doctors, dispensaries, and clinics. It advocates for the effective use of medical marijuana.
  • MDacne: It provides access to a dermatologist. It makes it easier to get acne treatment. Within 5 minutes, a patient is connected to a doctor and given the right prescription.
  • Teladoc: This app connects patients to certified doctors through video visits and phone. It works round the clock providing patients with accessible communication to doctors.
  • Better Help: This is a mobile healthcare app providing counseling services by providing patients with fast and affordable access to mental health professionals.

As you can see, there are quite a few healthcare app options available to patients with different conditions. Some of these apps focus mostly on symptom monitoring, while others also offer consultation from a healthcare professional.

Types of Mobile Healthcare App

If you’re planning on developing a unique medical mobile app, you should first research some of the best healthcare apps available in the market. Preliminary research can help you determine the functionalities and categories of medical apps that are convenient to target users.

In most cases, healthcare apps are grouped into two main categories: medical apps for healthcare providers and apps for users. Users, in this case, apply to patients and those using them generally.

Let’s take a closer look at both healthcare app categories.

1. Medical apps for healthcare providers

Medical apps for healthcare providers are normally developed for particular institutions and go through authentication. Therefore, they should meet specific customized solutions. These types of apps need more detailed technology when building. They are also more expensive than user-based medical apps.

Medical apps for healthcare providers serve different purposes and come with unique features. For example, healthcare providers can use medical apps for:

  • Patient monitoring.  Healthcare providers can use medical apps to monitor their patients’ treatment process. You can use the app to store a patient’s medical records, health data, and contacts that doctors can access and use anytime. Some examples of these types of apps include Teladoc and CipherHealth.
  • Networking. Healthcare providers can also use medical apps as a networking platform. They can form a community of doctors to ask questions and exchange knowledge. Sermo is an example of such an app with over 800,000 users.
  • Referencing and database. Doctors and patients can use healthcare apps like HealthVault and myPHR to store and track health records, diseases, and medical conditions for future reference. With this data, doctors can stay up to date with every patient’s current health condition.
  • Connecting with patients  These are also known as telemedicine apps. A telemedicine app is a healthcare app used for storing patient data as well as planning, scheduling, and availing consultations with healthcare providers in the video, audio, and text messages. Examples of telemedicine apps include Lemonaid, Plushcare, and Amwell.
  • Managing appointments. With clinical apps like Epocrates and Medscape, doctors can keep a record of appointments, notify patients of upcoming checkups, change schedules, and update records seamlessly.

The general goal of these apps is to help healthcare professionals make the treatment process more seamless and manageable.

2. Medical mobile apps for users 


Medical mobile apps for users can be helpful to anyone interested in monitoring their health or patients under treatment. These types of medical apps serve the following purposes:

  • Reminder. These are specialized apps that notify patients to take medicine and follow healthcare practices as advised by their doctors. Patients can also use these apps to form healthy habits such as staying hydrated, getting enough rest, and keeping fit. The StandUp app is a good example.
  • Diagnosis.  These are useful apps for patients because they help them understand their symptoms and seek help from doctors as soon as possible. Check out usDiagnosis Medical App as an example.
  • Health monitoring. These apps are for patients with chronic medical conditions like type 2 diabetes, cancer, blood pressure, and heart complications. They help to monitor patient conditions 24/7 and advice on precautions to prevent fatalities.
  • Mental health. These are unique medical apps you can use for meditation, stress relief, self-care, and good sleep. Most people use these apps to take care of their mental health. 
  • Nutrition. Nutrition apps provide a healthkit to help you learn different foods and why they are necessary for your diet. Most nutrition apps come with features like trackers, healthy eating guides, and recipes. 
  • Women’s Health. These are specialized apps for women’s health. They usually come with trackers, healthy eating guides, and weight loss tips. 

These apps keep patients informed about their health and provide valuable information on how to manage different symptoms.

Step-by-step Guide to Healthcare Application Development

There is fierce competition in the app market. After all, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the growing mHealth market? Reportedly, it will reach a whopping $50 million by 2025.   

If you want your medical app to stand out from the crowd, reach target users, and receive the most downloads to engage with users, you should be ready to walk the extra mile.

These are the steps you should follow to develop the best medical app for users and healthcare providers.

1.  Set a goal

What kind of medical app do you want to develop? What audience are you targeting when you build this medical app? 

These are some of the questions you should ask yourself when setting a goal for your medical app project. Without a goal, it is not easy to tell where you are heading with your project.

When setting a goal for building a healthcare app, it should be SMART:

  • Specific: you should target an area you want to improve
  • Measurable: state all your progress indicators and how long you’ll take on the project 
  • Assignable: indicate who will handle the project 
  • Realistic: think about whether the targets and results are realistically achievable with the resources at your disposal
  • Time-bound: specify how long it will take to achieve the results you want

You have to know what problem exists in the healthcare industry that you want your medical app to solve. Then, when you focus more on the app’s purpose, you can develop an app that most users need and not what you think most people want.

When you have a definite goal and vision for your app development project, you can set your mind on what you want the app to solve and include those features that would cater to specific needs.

2.  Study your competitors

The mobile app development industry is flooded with hundreds of apps. You want to shine and make your app one of a kind, right? That means you should study what some of the best app developers are doing to remain at the top. 

First, conduct a competitive market analysis and collect all the required information, including:

  • industry and market outlook
  • target buyer analysis
  • product gaps in the market
  • assessment of your product’s viability

Then you can start researching all your rival’s apps. Here are some important points to consider:

  • The competitor’s product and its features
  • Market share
  • Product pricing
  • End-users and marketing
  • Differentiators
  • Product and brand strengths and weaknesses

Aim to convert some of the competitor’s weaknesses into opportunities.  Also, when doing competitor analysis, don’t forget to identify the market position and the market shares of top competitors in the industry.

By conducting competitor analysis, you can list down all the essential features you should not miss in your new medical app. Then, at the end of your competitor research, you should develop a list of functionalities and features that will make your mobile application the best alternative for most users in the market.

3. Comply with healthcare regulations

In most countries, healthcare is one of the most regulated industries. That means, if your healthcare app fails to meet the specified regulations, it is more likely to be removed from the marketplace. Moreover, authorities can shut it down permanently. For instance, the 

Here are some healthcare regulations you should take into consideration when coming up with a medical app.

HIPAA Privacy Rule

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act outlines the standards for collecting and protecting personal medical records. It applies to all healthcare, health plans, healthcare providers, and clearinghouses. They conduct their business online or electronically.

HIPAA requires that any healthcare provider offering their services ensures maximum privacy and protection of individual information. It means if you have a medical app that collects personal information from users, you are not allowed to use the data without patient authorization. 

In addition, the HIPAA privacy regulation gives patients the right over their personal information shared on mHealth apps.

HIPAA Security Rule

The HIPAA security rule establishes the national standards for protecting individuals whose private information is created, collected, received, and maintained by a covered entity. This rule requires appropriate technical, such as data encryption, administrative and physical safeguards to protect patient and user information.

HITECH regulation

Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act is a regulation that promotes the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology. In addition, this act has the objective of ensuring the adoption and enforcement of the HIPAA rule.

4. Choose the app type

The next step is choosing the healthcare app type that suits your target audience. There are different medical apps you can develop. We have discussed some of these apps in the foregoing section of this article.

If you target healthcare professionals, you should develop a healthcare providers’ app. Alternatively, if you are targeting patients and those looking for general user apps, you should design and build medical applications that focus on their needs.

The type of app will depend on the features and functionalities you want to incorporate. It also depends on the solutions you want the app to offer based on your market research.

It’s also time to decide whether you will build an app for Android or iOS. This decision should be based on your target audience’s preferences and the mobile devices they usually use. It will also help you decide on the app store where you’re going to advertise. 

5.  Validate your app idea with healthcare professionals

App validation means involving real healthcare workers and asking them to put your app idea to the test and see if there’s actual use to it. If you want to test the hypothesis behind your app idea, you can also survey healthcare professionals. 

Your goal is to get the healthcare providers to confirm whether the app you are developing can solve a real medical problem. Their opinion will also impact usability and user experience. So, before using all your resources to develop the app, get your development team to collect honest user feedback to validate the idea behind it.

Here is more to do when validating your app idea:

  • Research what final users think about the app idea.
  • Use social media to inform your target users or audience about the launch date.
  • Mention the website where you will be launching your app to create a social buzz.
  • Test app design to make sure it’s user-friendly. 
  • Check if data protection is strong enough. 
  • Create a pre-selling landing page on your website with screenshots and mockups. Include an email subscription form for customers who may be willing to try your app first.
Promote your app idea by attending meetups, participating in online social forums, and promoting your MVP.

6. Choose app monetization options

When you are done validating your mobile app, you must identify the best way to make money using it. 

Here are the tips for choosing the best app monetization strategy:

  • Understand the type of app you want to monetize; what solutions does it offer to users.
  • Conduct competitor research to find out what strategy works best for your app.
  • Research more on your users. Who are your target users? What do they want in your app? What works best for them?

You can use different monetization models, such as account subscription, advertisement, in-app purchase, paid, and many others. You can
read more about app monetization in our previous article.

7. Build an MVP of your health app

Developing a Minimum Viable Product is a vital stage in creating an app. The MVP is the initial version (a beta version) of your app that has the key features that will be present in the final product.

When developing a healthcare app MVP, take your time and split the healthcare mobile app development into stages. First, minimize the functionalities and features to include in the first stage of developing the app. Then, you can add more features to the app when you launch another version later.

Should you get mobile app development services?

Software development is a task for professionals. And, if you’re running a small business, you might not have the resources to hire an in-house app developer. Therefore, you should reach out to the best medical app developers in the industry.

Outsourcing app development is cost-effective and helps you finish your app project in time. A reputable app development company has an experienced team of app developers and software engineers that will guide you through the development process and help create a personalized and efficient medical app for your users. 

Final Thoughts

Mobile platforms have played a central role in transforming the digital healthcare landscape. mHealth applications have changed how hospitals, physicians, doctors, and others healthcare providers can deliver real-time care to patients.

Mobile health apps are helpful for billing, keeping sensitive hospital records, dispersing records, diagnosing, and communicating with patients. However, building an agile healthcare app can be quite a challenge.

Hopefully, our article will come in handy to help you develop the best mobile app for your target audience. Follow these steps to launch a successful healthcare app development project and take your company to the next level.