4 tips to build successful mHealth apps

A 10-step framework for developing mHealth apps that allows doctors to be involved in software conception, development and the research process outlines four specific advice points for future physician application developers.

The research framework was published recently in the Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bayview Internal Medicine Residency Program and the Orlando Health Internal Medicine Residency Program. Their first recommendation to developers is the creation of a five-year plan and prepping for a 2.0 app version to include new content, development costs for updates, user feedback and additional research.

"Medicine is constantly evolving, as are devices and software requirements for apps, therefore an app should be produced with intent to update within 6 months," write the framework''s authors.

The second step, the authors say, is to ensure that the app is available for multiple platforms, including Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone and even Amazon's Fire OS. The platform reach is necessary, they say, for dissemination and adoption by new users.

Such mobile app building tips are similar to those recently provided by a veteran mobile app developer Trevor Strome. The big key, according to Strome, is understanding what users want and the problem the application will solve. The most successful mHealth application ventures use a services strategy, boast a robust tool portfolio and embrace medical APIs, according to a study published in May by research2guidance.

The framework's third lesson is to establish a competitive price from initial deployment and release. While a higher price can be reduced, it's best to start with the most affordable cost to spur downloads and generate feedback, the authors say.

Their final recommendation is to ensure a hefty review process, especially for mHealth apps that do not require U.S. Food and Drug Administration premarket approval. Using more editors and reviewers for all stages of the app development process is a much better approach than using few review resources, according to the authors.

To learn more:
- read the framework document (.pdf)

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