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What to Look for in a Healthcare Application Development Company

By Nick Epson on February 9, 2021

Finding a healthcare application development company is a challenge that many businesses face when preparing to pull the trigger on a software development initiative. Candidates must have the technical capabilities to pull off an app that will not only offer a great UX but also align with HIPAA statutes that mandate data is sufficiently protected.

As a company that caters to healthcare application development, we understand the uncertainty that many experience during the search for the most capable talent to build their product. It’s a delicate process wrought with potential pitfalls should you select a less proficient team when building a HIPAA compliant mobile app. To help medical companies looking to build software for their network and healthcare entrepreneurs intending to bring an innovative product to the market, we’re going to explore how to approach your search then cover some qualities of the best healthcare application development companies.

Beginning your search for a perfect development partner

While it’s fairly easy to find resources on “what” to look for when seeking developers for a project, material on the “when” and “where” of the matter is much harder to come by. As such, we published this article to Hackernoon that covers aspects related to timing and where to look. 

When it comes to finding a team to build software for healthcare, it’s best to begin the search early. For those who have a solid concept identified, start by first identifying companies with a track record of success in this area then start reaching out to learn about their process. You should ideally find a team that will run you through a Design Sprint as this will uncover concrete solutions to problems you’ve identified as well as provide feedback through user testing of a prototype that’s developed during the week-long experience. As a bonus, this helps you assess the aptitude of the company before you launch a full-blown development endeavor.

The same goes for established businesses in healthcare – even though you might have a comprehensive idea of what you want, the benefits of seeing and learning from a prototype will open your eyes to both realities and opportunities.

On the “where” front, you’ll want to limit your search to reputable directories like Clutch or Mobile App Daily to find a highly-rated healthcare application development company. Many are tempted to seek out developers in their immediate area which isn’t necessary as everything can be handled remotely. Too, don’t be enticed by testimonials from colleagues in other industries who had a great experience with an agency that developed their app – software development in healthcare is often more complex when compared to most other industries.

While building a healthcare booking app versus a product that’s designed to help diagnose chronic conditions may seem vastly different, they share many of the same obstacles. Both share a common denominator in the sense that both have an unwavering obligation to satisfy regulatory requirements and protect patient data. No matter what kind of features you plan for a healthcare app, understand that meeting compliance will be the most pressing matter.

Rather than try to build an internal team of designers and developers to build your software, outsourcing to an experienced agency will produce the best results. Of course, some healthcare providers have existing teams that simply need a little extra help. In these cases, an agency that can augment a team with individuals possessing specific skillsets often proves to be the ideal solution. For healthcare entrepreneurs, a full-service digital product agency can help by performing in-depth market research and also market the product to the target audience in addition to building the software.

Qualities of an exceptional healthcare application development company

A few qualities define the most capable service providers in healthcare app development. Make sure the company you select possesses each of the following traits.

Ability to capture the vision through design. There’s more to design than just aesthetics – a thorough app design process is the baseline for building a product as elements created during this phase will dictate how the product will be developed. The look and feel of your app should capture your vision, incorporate best practices for UI design, and reflect feedback gained from user testing of the prototype. Keep in mind, the UI/UX designers know best when it comes to matters like organization, layout, and beyond. Understand that if they happen to, say, rework a design you have drawn up, it’s done for a good reason.

Embody user-centric thinking supported by feedback. Early in the planning phase (typically, during the Design Sprint), you’ll create a product roadmap that outlines the timeline for planned future releases. While these models provide a good, visual strategy for moving forward, they still need to be flexible enough to adapt to user feedback. Just as user feedback helps shape your MVP, the information you collect from users throughout time needs to be reviewed and carefully considered to ensure that upcoming iterations will suit their needs. A development team should be able to cite cases where the insight gained from user feedback allowed them to make improvements that were well-received by their userbase.

Knowledge of third-party tools for building out HIPAA compliant features. Certain features, for example, secure messaging between staff and patients will rely on third-party tools from providers like Twilio. Rather than building out time-consuming, complex features, high-quality plugins are used to quickly implement these services in an app. When you’re looking for a healthcare application development company, you should ask to see examples where they have previously used third-party tools to successfully include features like messaging, push notifications, maps, or other APIs to offer rich feature sets that are also HIPAA compliant.

Has experience with wearable tech as well as platforms like Google Fit and Apple Health. One incredibly useful trend that’s rapidly evolved over the past few years is the application of wearable tech to gain a more comprehensive understanding of an individual’s health profile. Systems like step counters, heart rate monitors, and others along with wearable-friendly apps like Sugarmate for diabetes management for are proving to be invaluable for treatment. With this in mind, the team you select must have the ability to work with wearables, especially if your app will interface with such tech at some point in time. Further, knowing how to securely integrate with platforms that serve as repositories for health information like Google Fit or Apple Health will allow data to work harder.

Able to integrate with existing EHR/EMR systems. Most healthcare providers and entrepreneurs are seeking solutions that can securely interface with patient records so developers must know how to move data in and out of these systems. To build on the wearable tech point, most healthcare providers benefit from being able to track metrics like a patient’s blood sugar, physical activity, or blood pressure to build bigger datasets on their patients. Also, patients would like to have the ability to securely access their records at will through a web portal or app for any number of reasons. An agency should know how to take advantage of secure APIs to automatically share this information between endpoints as well as understand HL7 standards for transferring data between devices and EMR or EHR systems. Too, they should understand medical terminology and buzzwords to be able to map them to tech concepts.

A deep understanding of HIPAA and FDA compliance. Under no circumstances should you consider developers who don’t have a working knowledge of HIPAA as it relates to technology. Code must be airtight and best practices need to be minded when using third-party tools to prevent exposing any protected information to prying eyes or run the risk of losing trust in your customer base and incurring costly fines. Another important aspect for some designs mean getting FDA approval on select features – for example, the Fitbit Sense that includes an EKG function that recently received approval from the FDA had to do so because this feature acts as a medical device. Any feature that acts as a medical device will be subject to FDA approval, meaning teams need to have a grasp on this matter in addition to understanding HIPAA.

Options for long-term support. While situations can vary, most businesses benefit in the long-term by sticking with the same team to maintain the product and implement new features down the road. A familiar team is better equipped to resolve bugs, adhere to a regular maintenance schedule, and scale the product to accommodate more users or include new features when the time comes. Ideally, you’ll want to find a passionate team that is more than willing to work closely with your business over the long haul. Having great rapport – as in any relationship – with a team that cares about your success and your users’ experiences will make owning a product much easier and more cost-effective.

We are a proven leader in the development of healthcare software

By embracing Design Sprints, we uncover segmentation and targeting through real-world testing to rapidly prototype a product that’s ideal for its intended audience. We also possess a profound collective knowledge of how to create impactful apps for the medical community while minding the various regulations in play as we’ve done with products like Sugarmate and BabyMed. Get in touch with Blue Label Labs to learn more about how we create an impactful healthcare app that will transform your business.

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