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Want to Build a Medical App? Here’s What You Need to Know

March 29, 2017

Because application development is one of the services offered at my company, Mudbug Media, we are often approached by people and companies with app ideas.

Applications seem simple to build in theory, but to get an app up and working the way you want it to is actually quite difficult. You will probably run into snags along the way and may have to alter your original idea or give up some features in the initial launch to get the app up and running.

To illustrate that point, I wanted to share some of our recent experiences in creating an app called Referral Pad, which we recently launched at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Background on Referral Pad

The idea for Referral Pad was conceived by an orthopedic surgeon named Ira Kirschenbaum. Orthopedic surgeons get a large percentage of patients from referrals from primary care physicians and rheumatologists. While Dr. Kirschenbaum was keeping busy, he noticed that he wasn’t getting as many referrals from those key primary care physicians as he used to. This was a problem, because those patients tended to be the ones who could benefit most from surgery, and Dr. Kirschenbaum wanted to keep those physicians happy.

Upon contacting those key referring physicians, Dr. Kirschenbaum learned that they were having trouble getting appointments for those patients due to his busy schedule. To fix the problem and keep his referring physicians happy, he developed an application to help his key referring physicians get appointments for their patients.

It is well-known that most physicians will offer priority appointments to referred patients to make sure that they are able to be seen as soon as possible. With this concept in mind, Dr. Kirschenbaum created an app that allowed his key referring physicians to see his soonest availability. Patients could then leave their primary care physician’s office with an appointment already set up.

The app worked so well that Dr. Kirschenbaum approached us at Mudbug Media to continue to improve upon the app and roll it out on a larger scale. After several months of work, we are finally able to present Referral Pad.

What You Need to Know About Building an App

If you want to develop an app, I would recommend working with a company that is experienced in doing the type of work you need and can handle both front end and back end development. A good application development company will often require a larger investment, but you will have a great end result to provide to consumers: a web application that is polished, easy to use, and well-integrated.

We have seen several companies who have tried to develop an app cheaply on the first round, then were not satisfied with the results. When they come to us, they are looking for experienced developers to fix up the app they’ve already invested money in.

The problem is, when the application is built on a bad foundation, it continues to cause problems no matter how many times you try to patch it. You can also run into security issues, which is especially problematic if your application processes patient data. You end up spending more money than you would have if you had invested more money from the start. You’re better off working with an experienced company that can build a solid application, even if that means you have to give up some of the features you wanted initially. You can always add new features later.

Even seemingly simple applications can require complex work, especially if you have to integrate different services seamlessly into one application. For example, Referral Pad required the integration of a scheduling service to allow referring physicians to see open appointment slots, as well as a billing system to allow specialists to pay for the service. These types of services can be quite complex to work with, because you want to provide a uniform experience throughout the application and allow users to accomplish what they need within the app interface.

You should also work with a company that really makes an effort to understand your needs and concerns as the client. We make it a point to have regular meetings with the client to make sure we are always on the same page and can adjust as we go. You don’t want to work with a company that doesn’t touch base with you regularly—often, you won’t be satisfied with the end result.

Coming up with application ideas is often the easy part. If you want those ideas to come to life the way you envisioned, the greatest advice I can give you is to spend your budget on a development company that has experience.

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