Shama Lahiri

Designing Apps for Healthcare: Things to Keep in Mind

With a rise in the reluctance to visit public spaces and social distancing becoming the norm, every sector is looking for new ways to cope with the pandemic. And healthcare is no different. Patients are using digital platforms to access healthcare safely, from the comfort of their homes and doctors are using apps as a way to provide contactless treatment, as far as possible. Given this, the demand for mhealth or mobile health apps is set to grow exponentially in the near future.  And designers need to be prepared for this surge. What is the fastest and most efficient way to design apps for healthcare? Our lead UX designer at Team Codesign, Mandar Kshirsagar shares a few tips to keep in mind.

The Importance of Design in a Healthcare App:

Health issues are universal and can affect anybody, from any background, at any point in time. The core purpose of a healthcare app, irrespective of the niche it caters to, is to make quality medical care more accessible. Therefore, the app must be designed for seamless interactions and ease-of-use. With this in mind, Mandar suggests these 5 steps to keep in mind while designing a healthcare app.

5 Steps to Designing an Efficient Healthcare App

Step 1 - Identify the Problem to Be Solved
From booking appointments to accessing records, from assisting in diagnosis to remotely monitoring health; healthcare apps come in many shapes and sizes. Some are patient-centric while others are doctor-centric. Before starting to design a health app, one must identify the problem to be solved and then develop a way to add value to the end-users journey. For a designer, it is important to get as much detail as possible on this problem in order to create an efficient solution.

Step 2 – Know Who You are Designing for
Since most of us have been patients in some form or the other, it is easy to assume we understand our target audiences needs when designing a patient-centric app. Similarly, we may tend to assume that a doctor-centric app needs to be formal & serious. As a designer, one must always avoid making assumptions. Depending on the type of app you wish to develop, make sure to understand who exactly you are designing for. What kind of apps does the target audience already use? What is the tech infrastructure in the locality like? What payment systems are they used to? And most importantly, what does your audience expect from your app?

Step 3 - Design for Simplicity, Scalability, and Sustainability
Whether it is the wait to meet a certain doctor or the search for a second opinion; anybody who has dealt with a fairly serious medical condition understands how utterly confusing and complicated healthcare systems can be. Mhealth apps need to be designed with simplicity in mind. Given the growing popularity of mhealth apps, they also need to be able to adjust capacity to meet demand i.e.  – Healthcare apps need to be scalable. Designers should look at designing in modules instead of reinventing the wheel each time. The third ‘S’ or sustainability can be achieved by involving both healthcare professionals & patients in the applications development process, which unfortunately doesn’t always happen. Healthcare apps must be designed on these 3 pillars of simplicity, scalability, and sustainability.

Step 4 – Test Until you can Test No More
Testing is a crucial phase of any app development process but more so in the medical field. The medical industry has been comparatively slow in adopting applications. Therefore apps must be intuitive enough to convince previously sceptical audiences to use them. That apart, usability issues are also more serious in the medical field. Not being able to update a prescription or following the advice of a misleading notification could have disastrous repercussions. Medical apps today also need to work in tandem with many other third-party systems such as hospital management software, wearable devices, and so on and so forth. And therefore you must test until you can test no more!

Step 5 – Secure Your Data
Medical data is highly sensitive. A breach in security could lead to both economic and psychological problems for individuals. Medical data in the wrong hands could lead to a person losing their job or their access to health insurance or even being subjected to social isolation. And along with medical information, the healthcare industry also collects large amounts of personally identifiable data, all of which needs to be thoroughly secure.

As you can see designing apps for healthcare is a completely different ball game as compared to designing apps for other fields. Yet, done right, the impact these apps can have in society is tremendous. So the next time you wish to create a healthcare app, make sure to keep these tips in mind. See you in a healthier future!