Today, the sphere of health and wellbeing becomes more and more intertwined with digital healthcare solutions. Tracking fitness activities, improving sleep patterns, and booking doctor appointments via mobile apps get widely adopted by people. It is forecasted that global technology-driven innovations will amount to $350 — $410 billion in annual value by 2025. This opens up great opportunities for mHealth startups — even though there are some strong players already, there are plenty of niches and markets to fill.
The creation of anything starts with people and in the case of building a medical app, it is the development team. Choosing the right people to build an app plays a key role in how stable, secure, performant, and as the result, successful it will be. With 12 years in the mobile development industry and more than half of our clients turned into long-term partners, Surf has extensive experience in developing apps for a diverse set of industries with various technologies, as well as in setting up highly-qualified and efficient development teams. In the article, we’ll review the key aspects worth paying attention to when selecting the best healthcare app developers for your project.
Things to consider when hiring healthcare app developers
Taking a holistic approach when choosing a medical software development team helps you make sure that all aspects, from the tech stack used to post-release support, work towards a stable, modern, and secure app. Let’s go through the main aspects that influence the development process and its final results.
Skills & competencies
In general, healthcare apps process plenty of confidential data of their users and employ complex integrations both with a smartphone’s components and wearables, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers. All of this means that mHealth development requires experienced engineers — relying on freelance or junior developers, whose expertise might be enough for simpler projects, can put a health app’s security and stability at risk.
The better option for healthcare software development is hiring a team with a proven track record in building complex apps and comprehensive competencies. For example, the hiring process at Surf is organized in close collaboration between the recruitment and technical teams, which allows us to consider all aspects when picking talent for our team. Hard skills are always a priority when it comes to hiring app developers, nevertheless, Surf avoids hiring even excellent engineers who lack soft skills, because eventually it can significantly hurt communication and development processes.
If you plan to handle the entire development process of a healthcare app to a development team, it is important to choose the one that has not only skilled engineers for coding app components but other specialists essential at all other prods as well. In its team, Surf has:
- Experienced business analysts for initial concept development, market studies, and refining all aspects that determine the app’s future success.
- System analysis experts who examine the existing systems, suggest suitable tech solutions and document requirements in accordance with your business goals.
- UX/UI designers for customer journey mapping and app prototyping.
- QA specialists who conduct manual and automated testing of the app.
- Product analysts for gaining insights into the app’s usage and trends.
- And, of course, skilled project managers to facilitate the whole development process, ensuring the deadlines and client’s requirements are met.
For complex projects, Surf provides Sprint Zero: a set of pre-project preparations, done by our senior-level experts, that analyze future app’s business requirements, competitors, and target audience. As a result, the client receives a comprehensive project assessment, business risks review, the app’s design concept, MVP composition, brief specifications, and development map.
Experience and insights that come from other business areas can be extremely valuable when it comes to building a medical app with an aim to make it a leading solution in its field. It would be no exaggeration to say that Surf has plenty of such cross-industrial expertise. From apps for healthcare marketplaces, grocery stores, and banks to foodtech startups and digital media platforms — Surf team rarely rejects a project in the new field (although we don’t work with tobacco companies, gambling, and illegal enterprises) and always aims at providing the best mobile experience to the client.
The tech stack chosen to create a healthcare app largely influences the development process, including its speed and cost. The existing mobile development frameworks are divided into native platform-specific and cross-platform ones, which allow to develop apps for multiple platforms from a single codebase. While native frameworks can provide the best performance and support of deep integrations with the device’s hardware, the cross-platform frameworks’ concept of using one code to create apps for several platforms can significantly decrease app development time and cost. The key thing here is to choose a qualified cross-platform development team.
As a Google-certified development studio, Surf started from creating native apps using Kotlin and Swift programming languages. With the release of Flutter cross-platform framework in 2018, our team was among the early adopters of the technology, creating the first banking app on Flutter in Europe. Since then Surf has built many successful apps with Flutter, including Video Streaming Platform, where we achieved smooth high-resolution playback with a cross-platform framework, and apps for Online Healthcare Marketplace, where our choice of Flutter saved the client about 40% of the initial budget allocated for native development.
At Surf we strive to be pioneers in using new solutions and often are among the first ones to implement new technologies introduced at WWDC and Google I/O conferences. Also, our team continuously contributes to Flutter’s evolution and its community. During the last couple of years, we’ve created several homegrown solutions that make FLutter development more efficient and optimized. For example, our open-source Surf Gear and SurfGen tools automate routine development tasks, generating parts of the utility code, which results in 5-20% development. Our Elementary library is a comprehensive solution that divides app’s modules into blocks, helping developers to adhere to the principles of Clean Architecture and effectively decreasing maintenance, revision, and testing time.
Comprehensive testing relates directly to the healthcare app’s future stability on various devices and the security of the user’s private health data. When choosing an app development vendor, it is important to learn about the testing processes employed by the team. For example, to cover all app aspects, Surf utilizes both manual and automated tests, including E2E (end-to-end) tests simulating various user actions, such as clicks, button taps, and switching between screens along with widget tests that prove to be more effective in catching bugs compared to bugs manual testing.
The price of the development is a key factor when choosing healthcare software developers for a project. While the cheapest option rarely offers high quality, there is no guarantee that the priciest option would be worth every penny. If we take the cost of building a healthcare app by a US-based company, the figure can be effectively cut almost in half by hiring offshore specialists of the same qualifications. For example, hourly rates of mobile developers in the Eastern European countries can be almost half lower ($40–50) compared to their colleagues from the USA ($90–100). Learn more about the best locations to hire developers around the globe in our dedicated article.
Another aspect directly related to the price and indirectly affecting the quality is the price estimation model used by developers. The most straightforward option here is a fixed price model — before starting working on the app, the developers provide a detailed list of features to be built and exact costs of every element. At the first glance, such an approach can seem convenient for a client, because it provides an exact figure, eliminating the risks of exceeding it in the process. However, in the case of complex projects, the fixed price model can backfire — to adapt to the fast-paced digital market some changes to the app’s specifications might become necessary and the client would have to go through lengthy additional agreements and price increases or risk having an obsolete product in the end. That is why we at Surf are bigger fans of the time & material price model based on a top-level estimation — the app’s development is split into sprints and the client pays only for the work completed during each sprint. Such an approach allows developers to introduce minor adjustments swiftly and provide the client with an app perfectly fitted to the market at the time of release. For more details on the process, see our article dedicated to app development estimation.
Easy project transfer
Today it is a common practice to handle the app’s main development to an outsource development team and take the project in-house for post-release maintenance. When choosing a healthcare app developers try to learn about their documentation practices beforehand, as it will affect how easy the project’s transfer process would be later. In every project of ours, we at Surf aim to supply comprehensive documentation covering the app’s architecture, features, code, and other development aspects. For example, when developing an app for one of the Top 15 European banks, our team wrote autotests in Gherkin — an easy-to-understand language among developers, further simplifying the project’s transfer to the client’s in-house team.
Summing things up
As digital technologies transform healthcare, making services previously requiring a physical visit to a clinic available remotely and allowing people to track numerous health and activity parameters daily, the market of digital health solutions shows stable and quick growth. If you’re only planning to launch a digital healthcare product or started doing it already, you’ll likely need a mobile app to seamlessly connect with your customers.
When choosing healthcare software developers for your mobile app, always consider multiple aspects, including expertise, portfolio diversity, technologies and development practices, and costs. By partnering with one of the top healthcare software development companies you’ll ensure your app quality, stability, and how to fit it is to the current ever-changing digital landscape.