Monday, June 27, 2011

Basic Guidelines for Developing Mobile Healthcare Applications


Yuva Raj
Head – IDEA Lab (R&D Division)

It’s Apple that transformed the way we think about Mobile devices and its usage, when Apple launched iPhone in 2007. Other players like RIM, Google (Android) and Microsoft started adopting the changes quickly for their survival in mobile space. Apple made almost all the industry to look at the revolutionized innovation a smartphone can deliver and help the business growth irrespective of the industry.

Comparing to other industry adoption to new technologies, healthcare and pharma industry realized about the latest technological adoption during later years between 2000 and 2010. Now it’s the Healthcare and Pharma Industry keeping itself in the edge of all emerging technology. According to various study, it’s going to consume reasonable amount of investment for developing efficient Mobile Healthcare application in coming years!

There are various healthcare sectors looking for comprehensive Mobile application for various purposes that include EMR Data Intelligence & Reporting, Monitoring, Scheduling, Payments, Accounting, Tracking and what not!

So it will be appropriate for me to discuss about few key factors that any healthcare Mobile application designer or developer or an organization to consider while developing Mobile Applications for life saving industry – Healthcare.

For any healthcare application, security and compliance goes hand in hand for its essentiality to adopt all healthcare compliances and regulations include HIPAA, HITECH, ITRF Regulation or PCI/PHI compliances. It is absolutely essential that the Mobile application should follow the compliance and regulations base on the Healthcare sector the application will be used. The designer or developer should consider how securely the data is transmitted between end-points, and how securely the data are used. Have to think about how to secure the critical information during unlike events such as the if device is being stolen, hacked or reached wrong hands. Have to apply efficient encryption technologies, authorization and authentications.

It’s good and smart way to develop Mobile Healthcare Application that supports variety of Mobile Platform, so that the users need not stick to any specific device and they will be free to choose the right device for their need and purpose. It will help the solution providers to implement the solution to the hospitals, clinics or pharmacy without insisting on the device change or force to get the device that the application supports.

Other critical factors we should keep in mind while designing or developing Mobile Application (this factors are not only for Healthcare Application, it applicable for all Mobile Application developments)

  1. Bandwidth – the application designer/developer should design the application assuming that the radio signal is often be lower bandwidth.
  2. Memory – though the mobile devices started having good memory sizes, still it is not close to PC or Laptop, so the mobile application should not be a heavy lifter!
  3. Energy – the designer or the developer should avoid programming the application in such a way that certain activities should not increase battery energy usage and reduce battery life. For example an activity that transmits the geo-location very often will drain the battery soon.
  4. 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.
  5. Presentation & 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 trigger by figure touch on the screens. Have to consider screen-size of the device the application is developed for!
  6. Certainly any automated application should reduce manual error and not different for Mobile Healthcare applications as well. A study points that CPOE & Medication Administration Application reduced manual errors up to 38% and 55% respectively.
  7. The Mobile Healthcare Application should help increase employee productively & 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%. According to a private study, a good Mobile Health Care application saves average of 39 mins for Health Care employees to provide more time to patient care.
  8. Eventually the performance of the application should increase customer/healthcare provider satisfaction and serve more patients.
  9. It’s obvious that the Mobile Healthcare Application should reduce labor cost by automating the manual process; rather it should force the customer to increase the labor to handle and manage the application exclusively to make it work.
  10. And we can’t certainly ignore the fact that the success of these Mobile Healthcare solutions requires a holistic and integrated approach; capable to integrate with heterogeneous systems or application.
    I would like to conclude this article with an interesting fact – by 2015 more than one third of 1.4 billion smartphone users will use at least one Mobile HealthCare Applications. Having the right Mobile Healthcare application will enable us to play an important role in this space.


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