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How to Support a Full Healthcare Application Lifecycle

Apps are not done being supported when they are deployed. Organizations need the right tools to support a full healthcare application lifecycle.

Healthcare application lifecycle

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- How to Support a Full Healthcare Application Lifecycle

Organizations are building more applications as clinicians require more technologically advanced tools to increase their work environment flexibility. Applications development is an ongoing process and entities need to understand the full healthcare application lifecycle to ensure that apps are fully supported even after they are deployed.

Apps that are not supported through their entire lifecycle can threaten network security. Additionally, apps that are not patched to meet the latest OS requirements can create security gaps, leaving patient data vulnerable.

Building a healthcare app means that the organization is responsible for that app throughout its entire lifecycle, from the initial idea through post deployment maintenance.

Each healthcare app begins with a need that has to be filled. Clinicians need apps that will help them fulfill certain tasks more quickly and easily. Organizations need to discover who will use the app and which data the app will have access to. Entities also need to determine what problem the app going to help clinicians solve.

The healthcare app development process

Healthcare entities first need to put together an app development team, timeline, and a budget for the app’s development.

Next, the app needs to be designed, which can be a more complicated step than expected. The app’s design determines the app’s usability. If an app is not designed in a way that flows and is easy for the user to adapt to, than it won’t be a successful app.

The front ends of apps are usually designed by developers. These individuals will likely never use the app for what it’s being built for, meaning developers may never know what features the app needs and where the features should go. If an app is not functioning to capacity, then it’s not doing what it needs to do for clinicians.

Low-code app development platforms are a way for organizations to take some strain off of the development team by putting the front-end design in the hands of the app users.

Low-code development platforms provide a customizable framework for apps to be built on, essentially offering the developer a drag-and-drop interface to develop apps. Apps are developed at a much faster rate because they don’t need to be built from the ground up. This allows organizations to develop more apps and deploy them quicker.

Low-code app development platforms allow developers to focus on the back end without needing to worry about recreating the front end if the end users don’t like it. Focusing on the back end in this way will also save time.

Regardless of what tools are being used, developers need to flesh out a solid app architecture to ensure that the app will function efficiently, access the correct data, and meet security requirements.

Testing healthcare apps

Application programming interfaces (APIs) may be needed as developers determine which features, such as analytics tools and push notifications, will be incorporated into the app.

Once an app is built, it needs to be tested to ensure that it’s working properly. Many organizations choose to test their apps in the public cloud. The public cloud gives entities the space it needs to set up a temporary testing environment without needing to spend money on additional on-premises tools.

Apps often need to be tested multiple times so the full testing process must be accounted for in the application time-line.  

Once the app has been sufficiently tested, has been approved by developers and the users involved in the testing process, it can be integrated into the network and launched.

While this may seem like the end of the road, apps are ever evolving and are never done being monitored and maintained. Apps need to be upgraded periodically as devices and OSes develop and change.

Apps that are not upgraded and maintained properly can cause user errors and glitches, as well as security gaps of which cyber attackers can take advantage.  

Organizations need to adopt the right tools to ensure that apps are supported throughout their entire lifecycle. App development platforms, app management solutions, and network management can assist entities in controlling and maintaining their apps long-term. Apps that are not developed using a carefully constructed plan are much more likely to fail, resulting in wasted money and resources.