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Selecting a Healthcare Mobile App Development Platform

Selecting the right kind of healthcare mobile app development platform can help organizations use their development resources correctly and fill in missing tools or shortcomings.

healthcare mobile app development

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Healthcare organizations are creating more custom mobile apps for patients and clinicians and making mobile app development platforms a priority. Developing secure, functional apps quickly requires a platform that is usable and compatible with the existing IT infrastructure.

Healthcare organizations face specific regulatory requirements for protecting health data that they often can’t rely on an off-the-shelf solution. Developing custom apps, therefore, gives IT staff control over the apps as well as the ability to update and reconfigure apps.

A mobile app development platform is a product suite that provides developers with the tools and technology so developers can easily design, develop, test, distribute, manage, and analyze mobile apps.

According to Gartner, a mobile app development platform needs to include cross-platform frontend development tools, backend services that support third-party and open source integrated development environments, and the ability to address the requirements of diverse use cases.

Functionally, applications give users organized and convenient access to essential data, provide heightened security, and can be compartmentalized when created and stored in containers.

Healthcare organizations have been developing applications for many years, but native mobile app development has surged over the past several years. The increased use of mobile devises to treat patients has called for convenient digital tools that can easily be used on small touch screens.

Web apps that are used on desktop computers can function on smartphones but may be unusable having not been designed for a touch screen. This calls for apps that are used on desktops to be redesigned and redeployed on mobile devices.

Investing in a mobile app development platform is the first step, but organizations also need to consider their bandwidth for development projects. Current IT staff may not have the capacity or the skill needed to create native mobile apps. Developing apps that don’t function the way they need to can lead to clinicians abandoning the apps and the threat of shadow IT.

Currently, there are not enough enterprise app developers to meet the demand for custom apps — and  app development platforms vendors are recognizing this. Some vendors now offer rapid mobile app development platforms (RMADs) or low-code development options.

Low-code development platforms provide a customizable framework for apps to be built, 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, which allows organizations to develop more apps and deploy them quicker.

The pace of app development with low-code platforms allows organizations to take on projects that have been sitting on the back burner because of the lack of time available to build that app.

Forrester defines low-code platforms as, “platforms that enable rapid delivery of business applications with a minimum of hand-coding and minimal upfront investment in setup, training, and deployment.”

A healthcare low-code development platform can fulfill project requirements while taking care of compliance.

Low-code development platforms also give non-developers the opportunity to create apps. Organizations don’t need to bid against other organizations for experienced developers because users can create their own apps with the help of a developer instead of a team of developers.

Forrester identified the  drive to expand and diversify the developer talent pool as one of the forces shaping the low-code platform market. Low-code platforms allow organizations to bring in developers with non-traditional backgrounds. Organizations can bring in developers with different backgrounds such as web design, to create apps that flow and have high usability.

Low-code platforms can also help organizations scale projects faster and integrate data into applications easier. Data integration is one of the most difficult parts of app development. With low-code options, organizations can focus more on integrating data and less on the architecture of the actual app.

Considering different application development options for digital tools will help organizations improve their mobile strategy. Organizations that are aware of their resources can select the development platform that caters to the budget, manpower, and time they have to dedicate to app development.

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