Over the past decade, mobile apps have become a prominent fixture in our lives. We have apps that guide us on the road, apps for grocery shopping, apps for health and apps that are just for fun. Today mobile health apps are benefitting doctors and patients
Today, we are even developing apps that save lives. The use of mobile applications in the field of medicine is rapidly expanding and there is growing need for more apps to help medical professionals. Apps like Epocrates and UpToDate make the lives of doctors easier – and save the lives of their patients.
The U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) defines a medical app as a mobile app that meets the definition of a medical device and is “an accessory to a regulated medical device” or is turns a smartphone/tablet into a regulated medical device. The FDA is strongly encouraging the development of such apps, so right now is the perfect time to get involved.
With the FDA encouraging medical apps, the cost of developing a medical app has plummeted rather dramatically. Creating a medical app can be done easily and efficiently, especially for Class I medical apps, the lowest FDA classification. While Class I isn’t as robust as a Class III, there is still a high demand for them in the medical industry. Low cost, plus high ROI? Sounds like an entrepreneurial venture to me! If you want to know how to build an app, here are 3 simple steps.
What Goes into a Medical App
The short answer is anything you want. Apps can be created (and have been) to fill nearly every niche out there. Medical apps are no different – there’s virtually no end to the areas where they can help. The higher end features will end up costing you more (though the demand is higher) but Class I medical apps can still do a lot of good.
For instance, SDI developed an app for managing diabetes called Intelli-H. Intelli-H captures, shows and analyzes blood sugar levels to help diabetics and pre-diabetics. It displays information in an easy to read graph that users can quickly access and get a full understanding of their diabetic condition. It even displays data on the cost of healthcare, so users are completely informed.
Other medical apps, such as Epocrates are built solely to provide information for its users. Epocrates app puts prescription data at your fingertips – everything from safety information, to possibly harmful combinations of drugs. This app is simple to make, but it is the #1 reference app for doctors. Best of all, it easily clears the FDA’s requirements.
Just like with normal app development, a medical app needs to answer a particular problem. Remember, that’s a particular problem – as in specific. Don’t try to solve all of the world’s health issues at once, because you won’t. Don’t divide your attention; there are plenty of singular healthcare issues that are need to be fixed.
Ideally, a medical app will focus on one aspect of healthcare and perfect that. At SDI we have found that the best method to making an app that gets downloaded is to start with a niche. That niche can be anything from improving healthcare access in rural or underdeveloped areas to monitoring heartbeats and blood pressure. Find that sweet spot and build from there.
One thing that sets medical apps apart from a standard mobile app is that medical apps need to be approved by the FDA. Fortunately for developers, the FDA has really tried to create rules that, while protecting the end user, also encourage development.
The FDA separates medical devices into Class I, Class II, and Class III. Class I receives the least amount of scrutiny and Class III the most. If the app falls into a Class III, it will need to get approval before it is released to the market. This isn’t to say you should avoid Class III devices, just that you should be aware that it will take more time and money. That being said, Class III can arguably be more likely to succeed and have a larger ROI.
Some things to check off when seeking FDA clearance:
- Be explicit. A medical app that is clear about for what it is meant, what the app can do, and what condition/service it is meant to address.
- Test, test, and then test again. Seriously. App development is already extraordinarily iterative, but medical apps are even more so. You will need to clearly demonstrate to the FDA that your app does what it says it does. This means controlled clinical trials.
- The FDA has pretty stringent quality control issues that extend from conception to post-launch. They require app owners to continually monitor and correct any issues that may come up, throughout the entire life of the app. Of course, you should be doing this anyway!
Don’t let these restrictions hold you back! SDI is more than qualified to help you through this process. We have done it many times before and will continue to do it in the future. iPhone app development & android app development is what we do – and we do it well. With over 15 years of experience SDI knows what works and has various developed apps across sectors.
The medical world is just now merging with the app development world and opportunities abound. What app idea do you have? If your idea is to develop a medical app or a health tracking app, start right here and contact us. Making money is always nice – but making money and saving lives at the same time is even better. If you give SDI a call at 408.882.2885 now get 15% off your next project!