Medical software development: challenges and opportunities
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of mobile health solutions in facts and figures and the challenges faced. We will also illustrate the global market elite’s most successful projects for inspiration.
The global mobile health industry is expected to reach a market value of 156.82 billion USD by 2026 compared to 34.14 billion USD in 2020, with around 35% of annual growth, according to marketandforecast.com. We have been witnessing a burst of healthcare software applications recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Every medical software development company knows the value of the contribution they provide. E-prescribing and drug management solutions, patient management apps, medical research software have become a new savior and vital help mostly via smartphones and remote monitoring.
The healthcare landscape is being constantly changing, and only those whose mentality is about continuous learning and discovering, are blessed to adjust to it comfortably and compete. Medical staff’s refined skills in IT is an immense advantage, and the biggest challenge healthcare global system endures is evidently how to embrace IT in every aspect of medical care and delivery system.
Whether it is medical education, wellness, nutrition, insurance, or medical records, management, and administration, healthcare software is a great help and solid improvement in each of these areas. Modern information technologies make personal care simpler, bring specific processes close to perfection and give vital solutions.
It is worth considering that:
- 74% of medical institutions are more efficient thanks to gadgets.
- 52% of patients would prefer to have a post-surgical visit via video call.
- 43% of doctors access their patients’ data with smartphones.
- 74% of clients admit they are open to an online health visit.
The predominance of mobile health apps (Figure 1) and the growing competitive environment prove that the need is surpassing the supply — the direct invitation for healthcare companies to think about their own mHealth services.
The opportunities of implementing new mHealth solutions in your business are immense but are the possible challenges worth trying?
Healthcare software development is never isolated and depends on regulatory compliance, care mobility and scalability, sufficient focus on patients, data safety, specific customization needs, etc. These aspects are never perfect so the development team has no choice but to be rarely creative and search for the best functionality implementations. Among the impressive number of elite medical software providers today it is not so easy to choose the right developers team because it is not about the experience only but much more. In ZenBit we create solutions that drive good business results in a precious partnership where everything is aligned with the company culture. Our approach is customized to fit your needs and values. “One size fits all” is not for us.
Conforming to medical rules and standards
Medical regulations are often closely connected to third-party medical devices, their causes and determinants vary a lot, and every country or region may have significantly different healthcare standards. (Figure 2)
A healthcare ecosystem
Security and informational safety are of the most important business challenges, so being HIPAA, PIPEDA, GDPR, HL7 FHIR, MedMij, DICOM, and PCI-compliant means a lot for software developers at the very start.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) lays out three rules for protecting patient health information in the United States: privacy, security and breach notification rules. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) protects the right to be informed, the right of access, upgrade, to restrict processing, to data portability, to erasure, to object as well as rights concerning mechanized decision making and profiling. Among the guidelines of the Canadian Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) are accountability, accuracy, identifying purposes, limiting collection, consent, challenging compliance, being open, and individual access. Payment card industry (PCI) standards combine the agreed security set of rules for credit and debit cards, both online or in person. To be PCI compliant means a decent password and data protection, powerful anti-virus, modern updated software, encryption, document policies, etc.
ZenBit team is aware of its great importance as this is the key to customers’ trust and future confidence with their sensitive payment card data. It also defines our clients’ reputation.
Sufficient attention on patients
The top priority of any healthcare platform has to be HELPFUL, so easy practical and responsive UI and UX design is a must-do. Patients are the kind of target audience that probably differs the most, and it is quite a challenge to create a product that is going to be friendly, clear and understandable for all, no matter the age, education, lifestyle, abilities, etc. Interaction is very important here, that is why much focus goes to implementing the right communication tools that the users will like, and feel safer due to quick responses in emergency cases. Voice chats, online appointments, video conferencing are very helpful here.
Private data security
One of the most challenging tasks in medical software development, apparently, is because private data protection must cover all access steps, including the product’s interface design and isolated spaces. Multi-factor authentication and automatic log-offs are great as well as encryption and decryption will add much to data safety. Moreover, the system has to be integrated with RIS, HIS, PACS so that medical data can be easily accessed within the whole healthcare network.
Let’s also admit that not everything is perfect in an Electronic Health Record system. Medical professionals responsible for data recording must have high standards of keeping the information.
Flexible and mobile care
Healthcare apps are supposed to be flexible and easy to access which means being compatible with various mobile devices like smartphones, smartwatches, fitness bracelets, and other gadgets. They also should guarantee multi-platform information sharing. The key to success is creating cross-platform applications and PWAs to make the app’s functionality perfect.
It is worth noting that if we talk about platforms, Apple is number one in the United States controlling half of the market. Yet, the Apple iOS operating system loses its market share because of Google Android which is popular with LG, Samsung, Lenovo, and other famous brands.
Peculiar requirements in customization
It’s great when healthcare applications’ specific needs are possible to customize. It depends on the current aim and demand which are obviously fluent. Features modification is chiefly connected to management and administration tools, as a rule, every provider has its own internal management routine. On this level, our team usually consults someone who is highly competent in business analysis. His experience is crucial in the telemedicine projects’ decision-making and gives much confidence in calculation and general estimation of product’s requirements.
Advantages and current situation on the market
The pandemic changed the healthcare sector’s digital innovation process — not to exaggerate — overnight, suddenly shifting everything online with the exception of Covid-19 cases. As remote care billowed out, the records show an astonishing picture of transformation and its numerous benefits. (Figure 3). When done correctly, it improves patient outcomes greatly and the whole healthcare system boasts impressive improvements. Modern digital open-minded society has never been so privileged for this global movement in the care system. In 2021 the “home” often relates to the hospital thanks to data and new technologies.
(Figure 3) Trends in non-COVID-19 blockchain research over the past 4 years for the three most common clinical applications
Facts and numbers say
The key standards for medical software development are context, high purpose, and honor. And data safety, no doubt, goes hand in hand with data application — it can either build or ruin any business.
Let’s be honest: it was not yesterday when we went mobile. Nowadays 53% of all browsing is done via smartphones, and 5% of Google searches are about health issues. Patients around the world look for doctors, medicines, hospitals via their smartphones. Moreover, they browse ratings and fix appointments online.
It is relieving and inspiring to say goodbye to unhandy awkward systems and meet innovative digital health solutions that are predictive and intuitive. Deloitte’s 2020 Global Health Care Outlook convinces that by 2023 healthcare spending will grow at a CAGR of 5%. So the mHealth software market gets a gift of numerous opportunities and financial rewards.
According to KFF polling, 88% of American physicians use PC to keep medical data, and this practice will certainly increase in the future. The advantages are obvious as it is fast, convenient and transparent.
Boosting your income expectations
Successful customer-centric businesses create lasting relationships mostly by constantly focusing on their clients’ needs. Stable income growth is the result of properly built processes, optimized features, and perfectly personalized services. For instance:
- Improved personal data management excludes the chance of human error. It means safe storage and instant updates of medical tests as well as less stress to administrators or receptionists.
- Upgraded patient experience. Healthcare apps enable communication 24/7 by sending different types of notifications. Whether it is tomorrow’s appointment, time to take pills, or discounts offers, it is all about caring and safety feeling.
- Advanced performance analysis helps every member of the staff in their administrative works. Detailed records give valuable business discoveries on KPIs, main parameters, and fast patient response.
The situation of mHealth products on the market, in general, is as follows. According to Statista.com, in the first half of 2021, the number of medical apps available at Google Play was 51,133 worldwide. (Figure 4) If to compare with the last measured period, there were 53,054, which means a 6.51 percent increase. As for the Apple App Store, this number reached a 4.86 percent increase worldwide compared to 53,979 iOS healthcare apps available in 2020.
As to the apps subjects, they vary from Nutrition, Infections, Sleep disorders, Emergency situations to Newborn health, Dental health and even Surgery. (Figure 5). Distributions of applications in different subjects in the United States before the world pandemic. (HP: Healthcare Professionals, C: Consumers)
Worldwide download elite
From the start of COVID-19, the highest downloads growth belongs to South Korea with an impressive 135% boost compared to January 2020, the pandemic’s most dramatic month.
According to the State of Mobile 2021 report, the boom in health and fitness apps remained almost the same for a year with more physical experiences apps appearing. During that time people were ready to pay also for mental health solutions, and here the top one was the mindfulness and meditation app Calm. (Figure 6)
Last spring Calm’s income was around 7 million USD. The second top was Headspace with almost 4.9 million USD benefit amount. The third popular health app for women Flo has got 3.8 million USD. As for the COVID-19 trackers, the number one belongs to Aarogya Setu developed in India. It was downloaded via Google Play by 150 million users worldwide. Then comes Co-WIN Vaccinator App with roughly 3.1 million downloads.
ORCHA experts ensure that by 2030, mHealth apps will have become strongly set within standard medical care documents for most of the diagnoses. They will be also a popular way of precaution, and the expected benefits are out of the question — the quality of care processes and patient engagement are higher at lower costs.
Mobile health solutions are making healthcare much more intimate and personal. Moreover, medical professionals get a solid ground for scientific researches. The opportunities of implementing new solutions in businesses are immense but are the possible challenges worth trying? The answer is no doubt YES. On the condition that it is done by the right professionals.
ZenBit team creates innovative medical software solutions in accordance with industry-specific demands. We have experience in custom medical software development. Our approaches are based on the latest trends and standards, and we are surely expecting more and more cool projects to be introduced in the mHealth market soon.
You are always welcome to contact us. Together we will create a quality Healthcare product that stands out by the best software development practices providing new, quality benefits both to doctors and patients.