If there is one thing that medical professionals are afraid of; it’s apples. Because well, ‘An apple a day keeps a doctor away’.
However, there’s one apple that doesn’t keep a doctor away (apologies for a very poor joke) –
The Apple brand that has unfurled a new era in the healthcare sector.
From helping people lose weight to preventing heart attacks, WatchOS is transforming healthcare. People are praising the watch for saving lives, and shouldn’t come as a surprise that Apple shipped 7.6 million smartwatches worldwide in the first quarter of 2020 – this despite the pandemic.
So, what does this mean for you? That there are plenty of opportunities if you want to enter the market. Moreover, the market for healthcare apps is seeing a surge. To be precise, iOS healthcare apps saw a 6.15% increase from 2015 to the 3rd quarter of 2020. Apps available in play store too experienced a 1.68% increase.
Therefore, we think this is the perfect opportunity to discuss everything about mHealth, and how to build a doctor appointment app.
Topics that the post will cover:
- Challenges in traditional methods of appointment scheduling
- mHealth market overview and does it have a future?
- Combating COVID with mobile apps
- Benefits of doctor appointment app for administrative staff and patients
- Doctor Appointment App Development Challenges
- Implementing HealthKit and Google Fit
- Essential Features of Doctor Appointment App
- How to monetize a Doctor Appointment App
Challenges Associated with Traditional Methods of Taking Appointments
CRM software has made its way in the healthcare space too. It shows medical providers’ patient history, payment history, social behavior, etc. that further assists in engaging the patients. From patient data management to targeted and relevant messaging, CRM has grown many-fold.
If your hospital has such a system it’s a good thing. At least your administrative staff doesn’t have to spend half a day calling patients. But is it worth it? Let’s find out some problems associated with CRM healthcare software.
The biggest challenge is security. The software is secure but the data kept is centralized. So, what if some employee puts inaccurate data? Are there any encryption safeguards to maintain data integrity?
Not every worker will understand the framework of the system. This means you need to invest in training sessions.
The technical support with some CRM solutions comes at a higher cost. Managing the cost becomes difficult in the initial stages of setting up the system.
mHealth Market Overview
When you want to enter any market as a business, a good thing is to research the possibilities and get an overview of what the future looks like. We have gathered some statistics to give you insights on what’s the mHealth market picture. Let’s have a look.
- The global healthcare IT market is going to reach USD 390.7 billion by 2024 from USD 187.6 billion in 2019, at a CAGR of 15.8% during the forecast period.
- 74 percent of patients say using mobile apps wearables and other mHealth tools helps them cope with and manage their conditions.
- Almost 1.7 billion Smartphone users have had a healthcare app since 2017.
These numbers show that there are opportunities in the mHealth market.
In addition to this, in the current situation, people are afraid to visit hospitals because of the chances of getting infected. With a mobile app, you can allow patients to hold appointments virtually.
Combat COVID With Mobile Apps
The technology community around the world is developing mobile solutions to fight the pandemic. We saw the rise of symptom tracker apps like Guide Safe, COVIDWISE, etc. But the question arises, are these apps helpful?
In April this year, more than 60 digital health experts set out to find if mobile health technologies can help fight the pandemic. These members assessed 90 wearable sensors, contact-tracing apps, and electronic patient-reported outcome systems. Here are some key takeaways.
- Contactless Monitoring
- Contact Tracking
The pandemic has made us afraid to touch any surface in public. This fear is even more strong in a hospital setting. However, wearables have the ability to monitor vital signs remotely. They help reduce the need for doctors and patients to come in close contact. Though they have certain limitations, this trend is likely to grow in the coming years. Therefore, developing wearables and smartphone apps to offer medical services is going to be a profitable idea.
With the help of GPS, Bluetooth, and other features, contact tracking applications help determine when people are close to one another and for how much time. The members working on the above-mentioned survey mentioned that contact-tracking apps are an effective way to trace the spread of the pandemic. The only matter of concern is the privacy of information that app providers need to take care of. We will discuss how to deal with data security further in the blog.
Want to learn more about how your medical profession can battle COVID crisis using a mobile app? Let’s help you find out a way to enter the market.
Now, let’s explore how you can benefit from a doctor appointment app.
Doctor Appointment Apps for Providing Better Service
Let’s take an example. There’s a medical hospital that schedules approx. 150 appointments in a day. The administrative staff spends nearly 5-7 minutes on the phone confirming appointments or noting down the symptoms. This means the person spends 7-8 hours just managing appointments. If you have an app, not only you can manage the bookings, you can offer video consultations, provide medicine delivery, and more. A doctor booking application offers benefits to both the administrative staff and patience –
With a doctor booking app, hospitals/clinics can:
- Streamline their processes
- Manage appointments
- Automate administrative tasks
- Avoid overbooking
- Reduce no show-ups
- Lessen human errors
- Analyze their performance through different reports such as appointments completed, no-shows, to understand their services and impact in helping their patients.
- Access health care 24/7.
- Schedule appointments from anywhere at any time.
- Communicate in real-time with their care team.
- Access medical records and pay bills directly from the app.
Understanding the Challenges Doctor Appointment App Development
There are some challenges you will face when creating an on demand doctor appointment application. In this section, we will talk about some common issues and how to overcome them.
1. Security & Data Privacy
Data protection and security are two major matters of concern regardless of the industry you work in. Since healthcare includes highly confidential information, it becomes even more important to pay attention to security.
By the end of 2020, it’s expected that security breaches could cost $6 trillion for healthcare companies. Now, why is this important in doctor appointment app development? That’s because your users expect the app to be secure. They want their information about prescriptions, appointments, diagnosis, insurance, etc. protected.
To deal with the problem of cyber-attacks, we recommend using encryption techniques, and multi-factor authentication when developing the app. This will make it difficult for hackers to decipher the data. Secondly, make sure that your doctor booking app complies with the guidelines set by the law.
2. User Engagement
Remember that you are building an on demand doctor appointment application. That’s going to be too much medical stuff for the user. Medicines, appointments, x rays – that’s not fun stuff at all. Adding to this, it becomes all the more problematic if your app design is confusing. Sometimes patients dump the app after a few sign-ins because the app interface is too difficult to navigate.
A well thought out interface will keep your patients engaged, and helps establish easy communication between the doctor and the patient. We suggest following these points, to overcome the challenge of user engagement-
- When developing a doctor appointment app focus on building an app that is easy to use. Before beginning any work, always validate the functionality of your app.
- Another way to increase engagement is by customizing the app as per the patient group. For instance, the app targeting children will be different from apps targeting old-aged patients.
- Another way is developing a cross-platform application. Cross-platform apps are compatible with both Android and iOS platforms, and they offer a rich user experience.
Whether it’s deciding what security approach your app needs or forming a strong UX strategy, we will help you overcome these challenges.
Why Healthcare Apps need HealthKit and Google Fit
Health and fitness apps including doctor booking apps involve a good amount of data. This means you will need a single platform for storage. With HealthKit and Google Fit frameworks, it’s possible to achieve the goal.
There’s a bonus: these tools even help simplify the process of building an app, and improve the user experience.
Since you are planning to build a doctor appointment app, we thought it would be necessary to share some insights on these frameworks. For your clear understanding, we divided this section into three parts: First we will have a glimpse at HealthKit and Google Fit, second, we will learn the basic difference between the two, and finally we will tell you how you can use these frameworks.
About HealthKit and Google Fit
HealthKit basically provides a central repository for health and fitness data. It helps in ios app development and watchOS app development where you can synchronize apps with medical devices that aim to collect data.
Google Fit is similar to HealthKit but it’s for Android users. With the help of wearable devices or other smartphone sensors, the service observes the physical activity of the users. This way, your doctor appointment app can access every information in Google Fit; of course, with the user’s permission.
So, basically, both these tools store fitness and health information from different sources, and help you in the following ways:
- Users need not manually establish connections between their applications or import/export data.
- With the help of additional data, you get an opportunity to expand the functionality of the app.
Difference between HealthKit and Google Fit
|Collected data||HealthKit collects the following data types – |
Activity, mindfulness, sleep, nutrition, life indicators.
|Google Fit collects the following data types – physical activity, location, drinking mode, nutrition.|
|Design||In general, Apple offers a convenient, and simple design, but that’s not the case in the health space. However, users can view information on one screen.||The design interface is simple, intuitive. The biggest disadvantage is it is not too user-friendly. Google Fit uses graphics too! This makes the app fun.|
|Privacy and security||Reliable security features, strictly follow government guidelines.||Google Fit is only a fitness tracking app. Therefore, it does not give you any help in controlling medical parameters.|
How to Use HealthKit and Google Fit
HealthKit – As you know, it provides a data repository for WatchOS app development and iOS app development. This saves you from collecting and saving information. Also, there is no need to build analytical infographics. The kit will do everything for you. HealthKit manages and structures the data types so that any apps can find out the way to use them.
GoogleFit – It stores the data in cloud storage, and apps for Android can read this information. All you need to do is integrate with the API and it will do the rest of the work.
The aim of this section was to acquaint you with the two most advanced healthcare platforms. It’s up to you to make a choice. But we recommend that if you specifically want medical data then go HealthKit for will fulfill all your needs. If you think you need help to make a choice that you will not regret, reach out to us today!
Essential Features of Doctor Appointment App
There are several factors that will determine the success of your app, and features are fundamental. Here we cover some important features to ensure your doctor booking app sees a favorable result.
Once the user logs in, they need to create a profile. Nobody likes to spend time filling up information and creating a profile. But healthcare being a personalized sector requires users to create their respective profiles. So, make sure you focus on the design of this feature to make it engaging. To make the sign in process convenient for the users, you can go with the social login option. This will allow the users to directly log in from their social media profiles.
If you are a hospital, make sure the app includes the profile of every working professional. This must include information name, photo, specialty, verified credentials, user-ratings, and more.
2. Search Option
The main aim of your app is to provide ease of access to users. Your patients must have a search filter that allows them to find a suitable doctor for themselves. This means you need to include all the categories from skin treatment to cancer treatment. Also make sure this feature has filters like treatment/consultation charges, timings, insurance-related information, etc.
In all the projects we have undertaken, we observed that it is better to offer filters rather than a simple search option. Why let the user do the difficult task of searching and narrowing down the content if you can offer predefined options? Creating a good search experience is drastically going to improve user experience.
3. Set an Appointment
Scheduling – the central feature of your on demand doctor appointment application. The idea is to let the user set an appointment with minimum taps as possible. It’s not difficult. All you need to do is provide an interactive calendar using which the user can book a consultation. It’s actually simple: the patient chooses a day, the doctor confirms the appointment, and done!
Now, there are other features associated with scheduling an appointment such as sending reminder notifications, completing the payment, etc. Will discuss this later. As of now what you need to keep in mind is since this is the core feature, be very careful in design. Make sure it is simple yet interactive.
4. Payment System
If there is one thing you cannot afford to neglect it is security. As the number of online transactions increases, so do the cyber theft crimes. Since your app deals with intimate information, offering a secure payment becomes your priority. A good way to establish the user’s trust is to display all your security credentials on the screen.
Setting a payment system in your app begins by choosing the payment gateway provider. If you want to design a payment gateway that matches your app identity then we suggest Stripe or Braintree. But if you want to keep it simple yet effective then go with PayPal. To make the payment process convenient for users, provide a number of payment methods.
This is a feature that has the potential to earn you a dollar or two more. Many doctors offer a premium version of the app where users pay to unlock additional features like this one. Given the current scenario, people avoid hospital visits unless an emergency. With this feature, you give them the luxury to consult your services in case of minor medical doubt. Thus, by providing the ability of telemedicine, you save patients time, and this feature will attract more users to your app.
Since we just mentioned telemedicine, another feature to include is in-app chats. We think this is not an advanced feature but a must-have. Using a secure messaging system, you can allow users to communicate with doctors in real-time. You can even include chatbots where, in case you are unavailable, the chatbots with machine learning algorithms will clear the doubts of your patients.
6. Push Notifications
With this feature, your administrative staff no longer has to spend hours on the phone reminding patients. One tap and the patient will receive a personalized reminder. And it’s not limited to sending appointment reminders. You can utilize this feature to engage users by sharing vital health information.
Content will play a major role in messaging. But keep in mind that not every notification will be relevant to every user. For instance, diabetes-related health updates might not be relevant to a patient coming to your hospital for skin treatment. So, segment your audience and then craft the messages.
How convenient it becomes for a first-time patient to have something that guides them to your hospital door? Of course, there are Google Maps for directions but this is an excellent feature to stand out in the crowd. By integrating map service in your app, nearby patients can find your clinic or hospital.
For this, your app needs to have a strong backend and an interactive UI. it will also include things such as map integration, route searching, and location detecting. We recommend using a global positioning system (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID). They have the power to let you interact with your app users more effectively using the geolocation feature.
These were some must-have features in doctor appointment apps. In addition to these, you can consider the following features as well.
- Digital Records
- Review and Rating
- Emergency Option
- Document Upload and Sharing
As you can see, all these features require both knowledge of UI and tools that can help improve the user experience. Our team will help you choose the best best tools and create a UI that determines the success of your app.
How to Monetize a Doctor Appointment App
So, how can you earn revenue from the doctor appointment app that you built? There are different ways of monetizing an on-demand doctor appointment application. However, to help you choose a practical solution, we will discuss what’s the revenue model of popular apps in the market. Later, we will talk about what are the feasible options you have.
1. HealthTap’s Premium Service
HealthTap app where users can get health-related answers from US-board certified physicians. While the app is free, users can subscribe to the premium service called prime. They pay a $99 monthly subscription fee to unlock unlimited access to answers, and schedule live consultations.
Prime members can even get access to Doctor AI, a personal AI-powered doctor that routes users to doctor-recommended insights based on symptoms. Moreover, prime members can add their family members to the unlimited plan for an additional $10 per month.
2. Doctor on Demand’s Telemedicine Service
The Doctor on Demand app allows patients to have real-time video consultations with US-licensed medical practitioners. The app further connects the patients with psychologists and psychiatrists. The main revenue stream of the app is video consultations. Each 15-minute video-based appointment costs $40. If patients want to continue with the call, they pay another $40 for additional 15 minutes. The first consultation is free. This allows patients to test the quality. Over and above this, the company provides its software to other healthcare providers who pay a fee in return.
3. Practo’s Medical Products
Practo is Asia’s first and biggest healthcare appointment booking system. The app lets users consult certified specialists across different countries. Moreover, users can schedule visits to spa, saloons, and diagnostic centers too. Practo earns from its two products:
Practo Ray, a subscription-based medical software for doctors and healthcare providers. The company offers this product at two price points: $13.50 per month for a standard subscription and $27.00 per month for a premium subscription. The Premium plan includes a cloud telephony-based interactive voice response (IVR) system for doctors.
Another product is Practo Reach, a doctor discovery portal for patients. It’s a free product but the app earns from contextual advertisements from hospitals and clinics. The prices for ads depend on the specialty of a doctor/hospital, and the area.
4. ZocDoc’s Subscription Model
ZocDoc is a well-known name in the industry. The app enables appointments with 50+ types of specialists such as dermatologists, psychologists, dentists, etc. it’s primary source of income is subscription fees. Now, there’s something totally unique about this app. It’s not patients who pay the fees but doctors. Doctors pay an annual fee of $3,000 to connect them with patients. The app offers a sponsored result service (an advertising solution) that increases a doctor’s visibility. If you are planning a marketplace application then this is a good choice.
What are your options to earn revenue?
Here, you offer two versions of the same doctor appointment app – free + premium. The free version includes basic functionality while the premium one gives access to advanced features with an additional fee. The idea behind this approach is – if users like your free app there are chances, they will shift to the premium plan to enjoy advanced functions.
- Local Advertisements
A simple way to earn is by charging fees for advertisements from interested healthcare brands. However, ads can be frustrating. So, the key is to offer relevant apps to users.
- Commission-based model
Appointment booking application provides doctors with a platform where they can connect with patients and get a lot of exposure. One of the simplest revenue models where you, as an app-owner earn is by receiving a commission fee from doctors.
- Paid Listing
For doctors who want to get themselves on the list of featured doctors, this model is the way to go. With a paid listing, you are likely to get more visibility and inquiry from patients.
- In-app Purchases
In-app purchases are one of the easiest ways to earn if you are considering launching a free app. Directly through your app, patients can purchase medicines, and pre-pay visits.
Wondering what model to choose? Let’s help you form a perfect monetization strategy for your doctor appointment app.
How We Can Help You
As much as we agree that there are unprecedented opportunities in the mHealth sector, we would like to emphasize what determines the success of the app. The fundamental enablers are technological tools. While the choice of tech stack depends as per your project requirement, but here’s a list of commonly used tools
- Front-end development: Java, Swift, Angular, Java, CSS, HTML, React
- Popular platforms: Android, iOS, Web Application
- Back-end development: Python, Laravel, Node.js
- Push notifications: Batch, Twillo, Push.io
- Payment processing: PayPal API, Stripe API, Braintree SDK, and other e-wallets
- Database: MongoDB, Cassandra, HBase, and Postgress
- Cloud Environment: Google Cloud, AWS, Azure
- Location tracking: MapKit framework for iOS, and Google Maps SDK for Android
- Real-time tracking: BigData, Cisco, Hadoop, Spark, Apache Flink, IBM, Google Maps API
The second factor for a seamless experience is designing the doctor appointment app. We believe that when somebody uses a medical app, they should feel confident and peaceful. So, our team focuses on colors, fonts, etc. to give a perfect look to your app. It’s not just about selecting proper hues for the app; user experience plays a vital role too. Whether it’s working on the consistency of the app design or improving the features, we make sure to implement the best practices to build a user-friendly app.
And last is security. Earlier too we mentioned how data privacy is crucial in healthcare apps. At Biztech, we help you protect your app by following all the essential security guidelines.
No that’s not the only work we do. We even help our clients in deciding the best strategies to market their final product.
The world we live has changed and so has the patient’s approach to a clinic setting. Digital health is on the rise. Governments, entrepreneurs, medical practitioners, etc. are experimenting with technology to serve best to the customers.
If you have an idea to build a doctor appointment app then we are happy to help. Contact us and our project manager will reach out to understand what you need, what will be the best practice to build your doctor appointment app, and share a detailed estimation.
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