How can you make sure your hospital app delivers maximum value?
It’s no secret that hospital app development often comes with a hefty initial price tag. According to one survey, 18% of hospitals spend anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million in mobile app development, and 56% have a development cycle of 7 months or more.
With this level of investment going to creating proprietary healthcare mobile apps, hospitals need to take a page from technology disruptors who have built high-adoption mobile apps in other sectors to create their applications with an agile methodology that draws on “lean” principles. In our experience developing proprietary mobile hospital apps, we have seen great results by adopting the following approach:
Start with a survey of your patients.
- Which features are most important to your patients?
- What are the biggest complaints your patients have?
- Which devices do your patients use (Android or iOS)?
Getting real feedback from your patients to guide you is a great way to ensure that your initial release brings them real value.
Work on your hospital app in iterations.
The biggest reasons apps fail is that the don’t provide the functionalities users want and/or they are hard for patients to use. In order to create an app patients will use while minimizing any potential losses, it’s important to start small by building a scaled-back version of your mobile hospital application. This is what is referred to as a minimum viable product (MVP), and it’s the starting point for the rest of your hospital’s patient-facing mobile app development.
It is unlikely that a minimally functional hospital application will be enough to really engage your patients and get the kind of ROI your hospital is looking for, so we recommend starting by rolling out your app on a smaller scale — to a select group of patients — to solicit direct user feedback. Then, use this feedback to change or add functionalities, as well as tweak user interfaces, in a much shorter development cycle.
- Use your survey information to create a hospital app with the minimum necessary functionality for patients.
- Get feedback from your selected group of users on improvements to user interface/user experience (UI/UX) and what additional functionalities they’d like to see.
- Relaunch changes to the selected group and gather new feedback.
- Iterate this sequence until you have a hospital mobile app that your selected group of patients loves.
- Release at scale.
This kind of short iteration and gradual improvement process on the initial application, guided by feedback from real users, is what will help your hospital reduce its cost of development, create real value for patients, and see a meaningful ROI for your organization.
Understand the technical challenges ahead.
The challenge of building an app is one of the biggest reasons an iterative approach is the most cost-effective way to take on development. It ensures that the time and resources necessary to develop new functionalities for the app are actually going to be valuable to your patients, ultimately creating a much better end product and a much stronger ROI for your organization.
It also makes developing an engaging mobile hospital app far less intimidating. However, the technical complexities that accompany development shouldn’t be understated. HIPAA-compliance concerns; interfacing into disparate systems; standardizing diverse data formats; and balancing processor, bandwidth, and screen size limitations are only a few of the variables that will need to be expertly addressed.
In undertaking an initiative to develop a proprietary mobile app, hospitals would do very well in working with a development partner versed not only in the technical complexities of health IT, but also in the creation of patient-focused mobile applications. Finding the right partner is essential to helping you create a hospital app has the functionalities your patients want, an engaging user interface, minimum development cost, and maximum ROI.