Healthcare app development is popular among medical facilities and clinics simply because of the high-tech maneuvers that it promises to make healthcare more accessible. For example, patients can manage their medical conditions, achieve fitness goals, access healthcare without hospital visits, or get insurance claims through healthcare apps.
These apps, widely referred to as mHealth apps, are continuing to make the lives of millions easier through timely and well-orchestrated medical services. mHealth apps using smartphones and several other cutting-edge technologies have already become a cornerstone of success for the players in the healthcare industry.
The use of healthcare apps has already become commonplace. A whopping 70% of medical students say they use one medical app regularly, and around 50% of medical students regularly use one favorite medical app. In some countries where public healthcare infrastructure and facilities are already robust and highly developed, these apps play a key and central role. For example, a leading app development company in Ireland reportedly has received more queries on healthcare app projects than any other niche for the last two years. App makers can refer to the same experience in many countries.
So the value proposition of medical apps is straightforward. But do all healthcare organizations accept the irreplaceable role of these healthcare apps for their ambitious digital transformation objective? Well, the response seems to be still mixed and not fully convincing. But in the manner healthcare apps are extending their footprints across all medical service niches, in the time to come, every healthcare provider, irrespective of its size and operation, will adopt mHealth apps.
The importance of user research in developing healthcare apps
To be precise, user research is essential for any app project, irrespective of the niches. Without knowing the target audience, a successful app cannot be developed. But for healthcare apps, user research plays an even more critical role because it deals with a critical service affecting the lives and well-being of people.
Let’s have a quick look at the key things user research does for a healthcare app.
- User research ensures a user-centric development approach for a medical app.
- A healthcare app can introduce value additions lacking with other apps in the competition based on user research.
- User research can prevent the app from faulty UX elements.
- User research can give an idea of the app features demanded most by the target audience.
- User research can help an app project set clear priorities regarding app features and UX elements.
Now that you have a clear idea of the importance of user research for your upcoming healthcare app project, let us mention the critical considerations for carrying out user research.
Validating the app idea
As soon as you decide on the target market and the corresponding regulations, it should be validated by the patients, users, doctors, and healthcare professionals. This is often best done by carrying out surveys.
Here are some key questions that a user survey should include the following.
- Does it offer a solution to a practical healthcare problem patients and healthcare professionals face?
- How crucial is a problem the app-venture to solve?
- How do users respond to the shortcomings of other similar apps and what they want from the app?
- What are the key features and user experience attributes they expect most from your app?
- Are users willing or reluctant to pay for the app?
In the very initial stage of the app project, it is not at all important to know whether the doctors, healthcare professionals, and patients like your app or not. At this stage, you only need to ensure reasons for them to find your app relevant and useful. This is one reason you need to carry out market and user research.
With market research, you can introduce features that your users want and thus fulfill the first criterion of a great app. In addition, market and audience research also help you check the app development cost simply because you can drop the unnecessary features and UX attributes from your project.
Understand where to look for the target audience
In this respect, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the nature of the app and all the healthcare users who will find the particular helpful app. For example, your app can be useful for medical students and researchers or targeted at patients seeking remote medical consultation.
To understand the nature of the target audience and their specific demands, it is important to go among the target app users and seek their opinions and feedback. For example, if you are building an app for medical students, you should meet the medical students and experienced doctors and medical college professors and seek their opinions and advice. Likewise, when building an appointment booking app, you need to talk to the patients and healthcare staff, and doctors of various facilities allowing remote appointments.
Now user research for healthcare app can be categorized into qualitative and quantitative research. Let’s explain the, here below.
- Qualitative research
This type of user research corresponding to healthcare apps is carried out in clinical facilities, hospitals, care centers, healthcare staff, and patients attending such facilities. Therefore, it would be best to prepare separate sets of survey questions for the patients, healthcare management, and other staff for such research.
Qualitative research can also be successfully carried out on social media platforms and through your connections. For example, all the social media interactions and conversations against your user-targeted posts can provide clear answers regarding user preferences and wants.
The other effective method is to survey as many people as possible from healthcare facilities and many patients. You can talk to patients waiting in clinics, talk to health professionals on duty, and know the types of app that can make their lives easier. Outdoor surveys and interviews are still effective and can be considered a rigorous guerrilla method to gather insights.
- Quantitative research
When it comes to quantitative user research, don’t fall into the trap of numbers and statistics that requires expertise to get the exact picture. On the other hand, most quantitative sample surveys are carried out in the US and Europe, leaving little room for different markets. Some great tools that you can use for quantitative surveys include Google Forms, Typeforms, SurveyMonkey, and a few others.
Getting valuable predictive and data-driven insights regarding the healthcare needs of people became easier thanks to modern data modeling and data analytics technologies. Some health researchers rely on quantitative fitness and health data from wearable trackers and other health devices.
Data-driven analytics and model building are great methods when applied to observational datasets. Instead of formal studies and surveys, these methods provide more valuable insights into patient conditions and their interactions with healthcare apps.
So, besides the traditional user research methods such as surveys and studies for your healthcare app project, there are several other effective methods. Since user research plays the role of a foundation for most app projects, you should leave no stone unturned for successful user research and validation.