Digital health market size is increasing. In the USA, it is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26.9% by 2030. It’s not surprising that the statistics inspire businesses to create medical apps with modern features and release them to the audience as fast as practicable. Add to this more factors that urge businesses to implement the ideas—beginning with growing smartphone popularity to COVID-19 influence on patients’ behavior. Today, they’re more likely to choose online consultation with a doctor than visit a clinic unless necessary. And mobile apps, providing people with a fast and low-cost way to take care of their health, are gaining more and more attention.
But what to start with in the prospective niche? How to create a medical app chosen by thousands of patients and doctors every day, and make their lives better?
At Surf, we have been developing software for top companies since 2011, including medical organizations, and we’re ready to share our experience. Having read the article, you’ll see how to develop an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) of a medical app and not go over budget.
What is an MVP and how to select the main features for a medical app
MVP (Minimal Viable Product) is a test version of a product or a service with a minimum set of functions valuable to end users. Businesses create MVP of medical apps to test hypotheses and evaluate the viability of the intended product. The results of testing and feedback from the target audience help entrepreneurs understand whether the project is worth further development and what changes should be implemented.
For example, before Generis developed software to identify key genetic markers that impact user health, they had begun with MVP and narrowed it down to the most basic case. With the solution, the company hit the ground running as quickly as possible and analyzed the audience’s preferences to make further development processes successful. Today, the app has over 3,000 downloads, and retention for those premium users is above industry averages.
What does it mean for business?
- Building a medical app MVP, you should start with a core feature or several main features to find out if the audience needs the product, and ensure that your business won’t fail investing in its next versions. And, as medicine is a highly competitive niche, you should pay more attention than ever to your MVP concept:
- Any medical app should offer your audience a unique user experience, meeting their health needs. For patients, it’s important to find information quickly, even when they feel stressed because of their illness. Doctors are likely to use an app that makes their routine processes easier. Note it while choosing key features and don’t refuse from market analysis and business research.
- It’s better to launch an MVP a little bit later than ignore A/B testing and make users disappointed with the product quality. As most medical apps help patients and doctors monitor health metrics, a minute’s imperfection can bury the opportunity for further development.
- Don’t forget about collecting feedback from your first users. You can start with in-app surveys, interviews, landing pages with the product description and signing forms for those who want to try it, etc. Whatever you choose, don’t be too compulsive: doctors are usually too busy to write quality feedback, and patients aren’t always ready to answer questions. So it’s a good idea to motivate them with something in exchange for their feedback.
- UX/UI shouldn’t be too catchy or complex. For creating medical apps, it can do a disservice and confuse a target audience instead of helping them navigate within the app seamlessly.
- Data security is more important than ever. Depending on your country, regulations vary (for example, in the USA you must follow HIPAA regulations).
To add some more words about selecting key features, it depends on a healthcare app type and business purposes. The task is to spend as little time and money as possible, but to give priority to the audience’s needs.
For instance, if you are planning to create an MVP of a pharmaceutical app, the core idea is to ensure a fast and convenient search for meds and ordering them in several clicks. Pharmacies and drug stores offer numerous products, with various designations, dosages, and packages, so searching setups and filters are primary features; it will be a smart solution to help users find any medicine, even if they misspell it. Map showing nearest pharmacies is important, too—it can save users’ time. Digital assistants and banners with information about sales can be left for the further versions.
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If you want to develop an MVP of a telemedicine app, it should be easy for patients to find doctors and see the results of the previous consultations. For doctors, it’s important to see anamnesis and have convenient scheduling. Thus, the primary features are expanded profile information, selecting doctors by specialization, autoschedule, and, of course, high quality video calls. Integrations with pharmacies and pages with banners, informing about sales, are secondary in creating medical apps of this type.
If you’ve decided to create an MVP of a daily healthcare medical app, features depend on your target audience’s diagnosis. For example, patients with diabetes need functionality that helps them practice a healthy diet and monitor glucose/blood sugar level. Subsequently, such features as calories counters, synchronization with glucose monitors, appointments, and reminders that will inform users about sudden risks for their health, are extremely important. Features like online-chatting with other app users and a section with mental health tips are excessive; they don’t mean failure, but also aren’t the first to attract users’ attention.
How to understand your audience and create an app meeting their needs perfectly? At Surf, we have our own approach —CJM research: it helps our clients improve their users’ satisfaction with the app and use the budget smartly. We need 5 days to build a CJM (Customer Journey Map) and provide a result that helps our clients get a unique plan of their product development from MVP to next versions.
Read further if you want to know which steps the research includes, how we differentiate the key healthcare app features from excessive ones, and how to form a customer journey map.
How to build an MVP with key medical app features and make your business grow
Step 1. Organize a brainstorm with stakeholders and a developer team to collect information about your medical app
First of all, we organize an online or offline meeting where we meet the client’s team to discuss the app, the target audience segments, their needs, tasks people will solve with the app. During the brainstorming, everyone generates ideas on the main medical app features and ways to implement them.
Who is usually involved in the brainstorming? The client’s team consists of the business owners, representatives of analytics, development, marketing, and design departments—up to 8 specialists. From our team, there are a strategist, art director, business analyst, designer, and project manager—up to 5 experts.
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Step 2. Gain understanding of your users needs to fight off a competition
When the brainstorming is finished, we go deeper—do market research to understand users’ needs better and form final requirements to the functionality. With it, we and our client know the exact direction to move on, and each project team member pitches ideas on new medical app features, using reasoned arguments.
Why is it important for business? If your MVP is built in accordance with the target audiences’ needs, and a doctor or a patient finds solutions for their problems while using it, they invoke the app regularly and recommend it to friends or colleagues. Frequency of visits grows, audience expands, and you have more reasons to invest in app development, releasing new versions.
Step 3. Create great user experience to make users fall in love with your app
After we have learned more about the app users’ preferences, it’s time to work on a user journey and find a-ha moments and barriers that will arise when the user interacts with the product. It’s a necessary step to prevent negative user experience.
Conversion rate (CVR) and app referrals depend on the audience’s satisfaction with the product and their emotions while using it. People are more likely to make a target action and recommend a product to their friends if
- navigation helps them find what they need easily,
- graphic design is attractive but not too catchy,
- font size is big enough and readable for users with poor eyesight.
It’s a mistake to believe that UX/UI are not important for MVP as a step of a medical app development. If people feel unpleasant or nervous while using your app, they will find a more convenient and easy way to get access to medical services.
Step 4. Use every insight for the benefit of your product
In this step our project team analyzes all the ideas pitched during brainstorming and selects priority features. Discussions, disputes, and arguments help us estimate the optimal volume of the MVP. To simplify the choice, we highlight the framework and other features on a project development map. In medical app development, MVP usually consists of a framework (core features) with several more features for a positive user experience.
Finally, we form a backlog with excessive features divided into different blocks for each product version: it helps our team and the clients navigate within the development plan easily and arrange work in an effective way. By the way, our client gets the full documentation with all the details about project further development, features, and reasons to add and test them.
Here is an example of a ready-made CJM (Customer Journey Map) we created for one of the famous medical startups.
To sum up
- In medical app development, MVP is a test version of a final product with a minimal set of functions (or medical app features).
- To build a cost-efficient MVP, start with core features: for example, if it’s a telemedicine app, start with features that are necessary to choose a doctor and get a video consultation.
- Refuse from digital assistants, information about sales, and other secondary priority features. Leave them for the next product versions. Of course, the exact list of features depends on your projects and business purposes.
- CJM research is an effective tool to prioritize the features, plan further product versions and the development process, and synchronize all stakeholders involved in the project.
At Surf, we have rich cross-industry experience in mobile, desktop, and web apps development. Y Combinator startups and global enterprises trust us, while hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies address our team with challenging tasks, being confident in our strong skills and competent approach.