Best Practices and Trends in Developing Mobile Healthcare Applications

By Yuva Raja -

When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, it transformed the way we think about Mobile devices and their usage. Other players like RIM, Google (Android) and Microsoft started adopting the changes quickly for their survival in mobile space. Apple made the industry look at the revolutionized innovation a smartphone can deliver and helped the business growth of the industry.

Compared to other industries, the healthcare and pharma industry was quick to respond and adopt new technologies between 2000 and 2010 realizing the need for innovation when delivering its services. Now it’s the Healthcare and Pharma Industry keeping itself in the edge of all emerging technology. According to various studies, it’s going to take a reasonable amount of investment to develop efficient Mobile Healthcare applications in coming years.
There are various healthcare sectors looking for comprehensive Mobile application for various purposes that include EMR Data Intelligence and Reporting, Monitoring, Scheduling, Payments, Accounting, Tracking and more.
We will discuss key factors and best practices that any healthcare ISVs, SP, SIs or mobile application developer should consider while developing Mobile Applications for the life saving industry – Healthcare.

For any healthcare application, security and compliance goes hand in hand and it’s absolutely essential to adopt all healthcare compliances and regulations including HIPAA, HITECH, ITRF Regulation or PCI/PHI compliances, governing the Healthcare sector. The designer or developer should consider how to:

• transmit the data between end-points
• secure the usage of the data
• secure the critical information during unlike events such as if the device is being stolen, hacked or reached wrong hands.
• apply encryption technologies, authorization and authentications.
It is smart to develop Mobile Healthcare Applications that supports a variety of Mobile Platforms, so that the users are free to choose the right device for their needs. It will help solution providers implement the solution in hospitals, clinics or pharmacies without insisting on a device change to support the application.

Other critical factors to be kept in mind while designing or developing Mobile Applications (these are not only for Healthcare Applications, but applicable for all Mobile Application developments).

• Bandwidth – the application designer/developer should design the application assuming that the radio signal is often in lower bandwidth.
• Memory – though mobile devices are now starting to have good memory sizes, it is still not close to a PC or Laptop, so the mobile application should not be a heavy lifter.
• Energy – the designer or the developer should avoid programming the application in such a way that certain activities will not increase battery energy usage and reduce battery life. For example an activity that transmits the geo-location very often will drain the battery sooner.
• Data Transmission – mobile network cost is based on the volume of data we transmit, so the application should be designed and developed in such a way it doesn’t transmit the same data every time it connects with back end systems or vice versa.
• Presentation and User-Friendly – the mobile application screen design should be simple, clear and clean, avoid cumbersome texts and inputs. Consider right size text, buttons and controls as most of the operations are triggered by figure touch on the screens. Keep in mind the screen-size of the device the application is developed for.
• Reduce Manual Errors – any automated application should reduce manual error and it is not different for Mobile Healthcare applications. A study points that CPOE & the Medication Administration Application reduced manual errors up to 38 percent and 55 percent respectively.
• Increase Employee Productivity – Mobile Healthcare Applications should help increase employee productivity efficiency, and enable the care taker or medical practitioner to take care of more patients. A study indicates EHR increased employee productivity up to 24 percent. According to a private study, a good Mobile Health Care application saves average of 39 minutes for Health Care employees, and allows them to provide more time to patient care.
• Increase Satisfaction – eventually the performance of the application should increase healthcare provider satisfaction and enable them to serve more patients.
• Reduce Labor Costs – Mobile Healthcare Applications should reduce labor cost by automating the manual process; and it should not force the healthcare organizations or providers to increase the labor to handle and manage the application exclusively to make it work.
• An Integrated Approach –the success of these Mobile Healthcare solutions requires a holistic and integrated approach; capable to integrate with heterogeneous systems or applications.
By 2015, more than one third of the 1.4 billion smartphone users will use at least one Mobile HealthCare Application. Developing the right mobile healthcare applications will secure an important role for healthcare ISVs, SVs and SPs in this space.
• Electronic Health Record is the most important application driving investment above 28% from HealthCare Industry. Next to it, Computerized Physician Order Entry and Medication Administration attracts investment above 13% individually (Source – Motorola)
• Mobile Health Care applications will play vital role taking the Health Care systems to next level in future.
• Mobile Health Care market to hit $2.1 billion by end of this year – growth by 17% in each of the past two years (Source – ComputerWorld)
• Health Care Application set to become hugely popular and above 500 million consumers will be using the application in next 5 years (Source – Research2guidance)
• More than 1/3 of 1.4 billion smartphone users will use atleast one Mobile HealthCare Application by 2015 (Source – Global Mobile Health Market Report 2010-2015)

Yuva Raja is currently heading the IDEA Lab – Global R&D division of ZSL,Inc., and is responsible for delivering the Value Added Research and Product Engineering Services to Enterprises, Start-ups, ISVs, and Systems Integrators utilizing the enterprise mobile, BI, Cloud and Social Media technologies and platforms and could be reached at yuvarajam@zslinc.com or 732 379 3934.

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Categories: LifeSciTrends, NJTC Information Technology Network

Author:New Jersey Technology Council

The New Jersey Technology Council provides business support, networking opportunities, information, advocacy and recognition of technology companies and their leaders. Founded in 1996, NJTC's almost 1,000 member companies work together to support their own enterprises while advancing New Jersey's status as a leading technology center in the United States.

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One Comment on “Best Practices and Trends in Developing Mobile Healthcare Applications”

  1. September 16, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    The concept of m-health itself is innovative and beneficial in having robust health services and the also effective in disease management and lifestyle. The doctors and technicians are those professionals where the technology rarely affects their work culture, but with the emerging mobiles and PDA, the scenario has helped the health care industry in a way that it was not achievable or even thought of in the recent past.

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