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If you’re wanting to build a successful app, you should strongly consider the health/wellness/fitness field aka MedTech apps. MedTech apps are among the fastest growing mobile app categories out there; as of 2017, there were 325,000 available on the App Store and Play Store, and the growth rate seems to hover around 25% year-to-year. Considering how saturated the market is, that growth rate is impressive.
But, before you rush into the marketplace, there’s a lot to consider. Depending on your idea, there may be federal agencies and regulations to deal with, privacy issues to handle, and intellectual property to protect. So, how should you go about getting your MedTech app idea going? We’ll walk you through a few ideas to think about before you get started.
As with any mobile app development, you primarily need to identify your target audience, and solutions that your app will provide them with. Try to be specific as possible, with multiple personas, as this will shape your entire business plan. Will your app work for seniors as well as millenials? Is it for a specific medical condition, and does it work for all stages of this condition? Different demographics need different things, so figure out if this will have a narrow focus or a broader appeal.
For example, this research shows that 60% of Americans have some sort of fitness app downloaded on their smartphone, but that number increases if the user is in the obese phase of the body mass index. In this case, you would be smart to gear your fitness app towards beginner exercises, low-impact activity, and reminders to eat responsibly…or at least have that option.
It’s also important to figure out what category your app falls under. While MedTech is a broad field that covers medical devices and software as well as mobile apps, you’ll primarily need to identify as either a health app or a wellness app.
Wellness apps include fitness, diet, and meditation apps (among others) that track progress, encourage the users, and offer tips and instructions for overall health and wellbeing.
Health apps are much more specific, as they are intended to track, treat, or even diagnose disease, either from the user’s info or a doctor that’s connected to that device. As it’s more medical in nature, it’s subject to several regulations and restrictions (more about that later).
These distinctions will take you in very different directions as you develop your app, so make sure you know which yours is.
You need to identify what makes your app idea unique and how you can make it stand out in the crowd of MedTech apps that are already on the market. The best way to do this is to dive in heavily and explore like-minded apps. Identify what makes them popular while exploring what can make your app different. So, we recommend to find your niche, you immerse yourself in market research and be sure to take a lot of notes.
Try to find five apps already out on the market, then download them on your device and start breaking them down, all while keeping your user personas in mind. Take notes on a few of these categories:
As you move through these various apps, imagine how your target audience would feel, or, better yet, find a family member or friend that fits into your approximate persona that will try these apps with you. If your app is geared towards seniors, for example, are the various controls and buttons easy to find and read? All of these bits of research will help you refine your app as you move towards your development stage.
If your MedTech app is geared towards the wellness category we discussed above, then there aren’t really too many regulations you need to worry about (though, for your own sake, make sure any advice or recommendations have sound medical foundations). However, if your app is in the health category that we defined, there’s quite a few rules you have to keep in mind. If you’ll be storing or transmitting any medical or personal data, you’ll need to catch up with the current HIPAA laws regarding patient privacy and data security. Do your research, as there are a surprising amount of violations you may not think of.
Additionally, agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have oversight and regulation responsibilities with mobile medical apps. It’s a lot to comb through, but, generally speaking, if a health app can turn your phone into a “medical device”, it will be regulated as such. It’s not all bad though; getting your app approved by the FDA puts you in a fairly exclusive club, which not only legitimizes your app in the medical community, but gives you lots of free press as well.
Apps are supposed to be convenient and save you time, no matter what niche you’re in. Health and wellness apps are no exception. You should try to think through the demographic you are making the app for, and try to imagine all the different issues your app could provide solutions for.
If you’re creating a wellness app, you should realize that many people who want to exercise more are also interested in eating healthier, so you should consider adding calorie counters or healthy recipes to your app. And here’s a stat for you health app creators: By 2020, 157 million Americans are estimated to have a chronic condition, with a projected 81 million having multiple conditions. Chronic health conditions like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease often co-exist, so monitoring blood sugar levels and heart rate is a smart play. While you don’t want to cram your app with too many features, having several functions working together that appeal to your user can keep that app sticky.
The world of MedTech apps is dynamic and can change quickly. Your app has to be able to scale up just as fast. Building out your app in the development stage to have the capacity and power to grow accordingly, without constant updates and bug fixes, can protect your app from the dreaded uninstall phase. Investing wisely in the development stage to start with the bandwidth you’ll eventually require is money well spent, so be sure to research and talk with your business analyst in the initial meetings to see how best to invest in your app. You may end up paying much more later if you don’t.
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