Doctor Appointment Booking App Development – An Overview

Doctor Appointment Booking App Development – An Overview

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Doctor appointment booking apps have increased the overall effectiveness of clinics, hospitals, and online healthcare marketplaces while streamlining processes. Such apps permit patients to connect online with doctors. Not only doctor appointment booking mobile apps are a reliable & effective solution, but they are also the future of clinical progression and a distinct, new phase in the patient-doctor relationship.

Perks of Developing a Doctor Appointment Booking App

For Patients

Doctor appointment booking apps grant patients an option to ‘Book Anytime, Anywhere’ and also allows easy access to doctors. Furthermore, the appointment booking feature makes the lives of elderly patients, and those who are suffering from life-long ailments or are bed-ridden more comfortable.

Cost Associated with eConsultation is less than in-person Visit

According to UnitedHealthcare, an e-consultation visit costs $50 as compared to $130 for an urgent care facility visit and $740 for an emergency room visit. Furthermore, as per recent research, 71% of emergency room visits can be avoided. Most of the patients don’t need to visit the emergency department for minor health problems.

For Clinics & Hospitals

Doctor appointment booking apps enable healthcare providers to manage their appointments with increased efficiency while providing more reliable management. Essentially, it has features like displaying closed appointments and no-shows, complete appointment history of the patient, and analyzing the doctors, thus improving proficiency, keeping errors to a minimum, and saving valuable time on tiresome administrative tasks.

Workflow & Revenue Streams

Workflow:

Patient 

  • Sign In
  • Search & Select Doctor
  • Book an Appointment
  • Receive Notification 
  • Consult with Doctor
  • Select Payment Method
  • Give Feedback

Doctor Side

  • Sign In
  • Complete Profile
  • Share Timeslot
  • Approve Appointment
  • Communicate with Patient
  • Payment Management 
  • Prescription

Admin Side

  • Sign In
  • Data Appropriation
  • Calendar 
  • Notification
  • Communication
  • Payment
  • Prescription & Feedback

Revenue Streams

Commission-Based model

In a doctor appointment booking app, the admin has an option to earn profit by charging a commission fee behind each booking. Here are the steps that may take place under commission-based model:

  • A patient browses the website and initiates a search based on the medical problem.
  • After selecting a doctor, the patient proceeds to make a booking fee.
  • Once the payment is made online, the admin receives the complete booking amount.
  • After deducting the commission fee, the admin transfers the remaining amount to the doctor.

Paid Listing

The paid listing feature works with specific filters that can be used in a doctor appointment booking app. For example, a patient can perform a search to find doctors for specific medic problems, treatment types, problematic body parts or organs, treatment at a nearby medical facility, and others. Accordingly, the search results may appear.

In such a feature, the doctor pays to get listed on the search results page. While there are multiple ways to implement this feature, following steps can elaborate the use of this feature in a simple and general way:

  • After signing-in, the doctor may click on the “Advertise” tab and select “Paid Listing”.
  • A new web page may load with multiple options to make the Paid Listing appear on relevant search queries.
  • After selecting the criteria or placement of the listing, the doctor proceeds to make the payment.
  • Using a payment gateway, the money is transferred online to the website admin.

General Advertisement

A doctor can advertise on specific web pages at certain places. The homepage is generally the most common place for advertisement. Different sections of the website can be used to display an advertisement. Ideal places include header section, mid-section of the webpage, and above the footer for banner advertisement. The places can be modified during the web design and development process and as per the client’s preference. Here is the general process to explain how a doctor may choose to advertise:

  • The doctor may visit the promotion and advertisement section.
  • Depending on the client requirements, different options can be provided. Few of them include pay-per-click charges, placement of advertisements.
  • Option to upload an image that can be used as advertisement.

Now, let’s take a look at what the leaders, ZocDoc and Practo, offer.

SWOT Analysis of ZocDoc & Practo

ZocDoc:

Strengths Opportunities
– User-friendly interface for mobile
– 50+ types of specialists
– Easy online appointment booking
– Accommodates patient feedback of physicians
Patient-powered search engine for better health literacy
– Focuses on helping patients to easily find the doctor
– Reliable service & larger footprint in Suburban USA
– Help patients determine which doctor to consult given their prevailing medical condition
– Provide more accessibility to the patients in Suburban areas and those reeling from life-threatening ailments
– Provide better Health Literacy that may lead to a healthier society
Weaknesses Threats
– Physicians pay to be listed & stay on top
– Doesn’t list all sub-specialties
– Competitors could easily copy their website designs
– Google is still a driving force when it comes to Local Listings

More of ZocDoc:

  • An in-app reminder keeps them stuck to their medications and appointments.
  • A map to search for doctors in their insurance network and vicinity.
  • Reviews from patients are significant when other users are looking to book an appointment with a physician.

Practo:

Strengths Opportunities
– Doctors have the option to create their profile at practo.com for free
– Doctor-first approach for more effective reach
Tools that offer analysis & insights for safer clinic & business practices
– Team culture promotes harmony and better efficiency
10 Million+ medical and health records stored in one location improves efficiency & users’ convenience
– Collaborate with more hospitals and service providers to expand its foothold
– Practo can provide more services by filtering their requirements
– With rise in the smartphone user base, Practo’s user base should also increase 
Weaknesses Threats
– Lack of public awareness about Practo and its services
– Practo’s services are not present in all the cities
– Privacy constraints
– Technology limitations
– Not a well-known platform yet
– Current & rising competition – Google Local listings
– Technological advancements could become a hindrance in the near-future

More of Practo:

  • Practo created a SaaS product for doctors to easily organize appointments, track past medical records, and provide e-prescriptions.
  • Practo adopts a Premium Listing method according to which doctors, clinics, and hospitals have to pay for the listing price to stay on top of the search list.
  • Practice Management System (RAY) for doctors and clinics to capture patient data and give reminders and messages to the patient – sold to Doctors on an annual contract basis.

Salient Features of a Doctor Appointment Booking App:

  • Practo created a SaaS product for doctors to easily organize appointments, track past medical records, and provide e-prescriptions.
  • Practo adopts a Premium Listing method according to which doctors, clinics, and hospitals have to pay for the listing price to stay on top of the search list.
  • Practice Management System (RAY) for doctors and clinics to capture patient data and give reminders and messages to the patient – sold to Doctors on an annual contract basis.

Doctor Panel

  • Introduction – An ‘About Us’ or a general introduction section about the clinic/hospital is important to attract users. Write down an informational piece of message that should introduce your services to your users, and also inform them why they should choose you as their primary healthcare provider.
  • Login Process – Make sure the login process is easy & quick. A doctor appointment booking app should also have the option of logging in with a social media account or via an OTP.
  • Doctor’s Profile – A doctor’s profile should contain information about their certification, experience, competency, and languages spoken, their specialty, price, preferable time for an appointment, available insurance, and their location, among other things. It should enable their users to make an educated decision about their choice of doctor.
  • Appointment Management – A doctor appointment booking app should permit doctors to manage, check, cancel, or view the status of their appointments. This feature leads to better optimization of the time and money of a doctor/clinic/hospital and is essential for a more reliable working system.
  • Request Management – Accepting & rejecting appointment requests is a simple task but a designated feature/button in the doctor appointment booking app will make it even more accessible to the doctors.
  • Functionality – Before everything else, showcase specialty/functionality for your users. Your patients should know what kind of service they are to expect from the clinic/hospital & whether it caters to heart, bones, diabetes, or other conditions or not.
  • Telemedicine – Telemedicine, also known as online consultation via built-in chat or video-calling, has changed the way the healthcare industry used to operate, therefore, it is vital to have this feature in your doctor appointment booking app. Moreover, some patients demand to consult a doctor first before visiting the clinic.
  • Customer Data Management (CDM) – Cloud-based e-records/Patient-Treatment History and Family History are crucial for understanding the illness of the patient. CDM plays a significant role in determining a dangerous illness in its early stages which could be a defining agent between life and death.
  • Trackers – Your Doctor Appointment Booking app must have a feature where the patients can track their medicine prescribed by their doctor. This tracking system also assists patients to adhere to their medication schedule.
  • Data Sharing – Health Literacy is low in the US, facilitating the option of sharing files with clinics, specialists, clinic staff, and more & hence become a vital feature to have.
  • Payment Modules – Automated invoice and payslip generation, multiple payment options, payment history, fee calculation, among other things are essential for a systematic working of a doctor-patient relationship.
  • Rating – Ratings given by the patients should announce the credibility, legitimacy, and ability of a clinic since it also paves the way for better adoption of improved healthcare methods. 
  • Online Prescription – Online prescriptions are way more useful since they contain in-depth aspects of medications, its usage, and names. Also, you can directly send the prescription to the pharmacy and receive medicine while staying in the comforts of your home.  
  • Banking – Revenue transfer to the bank & generating automatic invoices are key for a medical practice’s survival. Add a proper feature in the doctor appointment booking app accordingly.

Patient Panel

  • Patient Profile – Name and phone number, address, and other essential information should be included in the complete profile of a patient including their photo. 
  • Functionality – For a patients’ panel, an option to determine the requirements according to category i.e heart, bones, to every area must be included. 
  • Dynamic Search Filters – Specialty & expertise of the doctor, price range, time availability, and accessible insurance are the dynamic search filters that should be granted to the users. With the help of these filters, patients can make an intelligent choice while choosing their healthcare provider.  
  • Appointment Management – Booking, rescheduling, canceling, and managing appointments using a calendar or home-visit will make it substantially easier to manage daily affairs. 
  • Payment – Multiple payment options – Credit card, Debit card, e-Wallet – makes the process of appointment booking much more manageable. It should have fewer actions, must minimize the processing time, and should be laced with top-notch security. 
  • Tele conferencing – Online consultations or built-in chat enables a patient to discuss any additional concerns or queries. An add-on feature of app-to-app calls could also be a vital component of a successful doctor appointment booking app.  
  • GPS Tracking – In order to easily locate the patients and/or the clinic/hospital, GPS tracking is needed. 
  • Push-Notifications – Reminders, Push Notifications & Social Media sharing are also crucial. These provide the latest updates i.e., from HIPAA and other medical institutions which enable patients to stay up-to-date with the current scenario. 
  • Wearables – Apple watch is one of the prime examples of how wearable devices have revolutionized the Healthcare industry. Their integration with the Doctor Appointment Booking app is significant as it will alert the emergency services in case something goes wrong or special attention is required for a patient. 
  • SOS – One-Touch-Ambulance-Call button is mandatory for a patient panel. Doctor appointment booking app should render convenience & assurance to the patients, therefore, it becomes essential to look after patients’ health, especially in an emergency. 
  • Medication Tracker – Online prescriptions are way more helpful since they contain in-depth information on medications, names, and its usage. 
  • Ratings – Ratings given by the patients should indicate reliability, legitimacy, and expertise of a clinic/medical practice. It also paves the way for a more suitable appropriation of enhanced healthcare classifications. 
  • Support – A Doctor appointment booking app must have a support section. Since not all the users are tech-savvy or know the whole process, a support section will enable users to understand it better which will allow clinics to work more efficiently. 
  • Referrals – Loyalty Programs are essential considering not all the patients are from well-to-do families and may require assistance. A referral program will enable them to avail services of a doctor appointment booking app without burning a hole in their pockets.

Admin Panel

  • Manage Users & Doctors – An admin panel requires data associated with doctors and patients both to manage it properly and more comprehensively. 
  • Content Management System – The role of an admin panel in CMS is to ensure informative blogs/articles to exclusive health-related posts by health experts are made available to the users of the doctor appointment booking app. 
  • Analytics – It is used for the identification, understanding, and presentation of meaningful patterns in data. Predictive analysis & real-time is the base of effective health management of the patients.  
  • Marketing Tools – For the promotion of a respective clinic/hospital, marketing tools are important. Since the admin panel takes care of external things, effective marketing should be put into regular use to maximize their effects. 
  • Modes of Communication – From email to video conferencing, a doctor appointment booking app should offer multiple modes of communication for the benefit of the doctor and patients alike. 
  • Notification Module – Notifications keep you up-to-date about the daily tasks and keep the whole process in-check & in order.  
  • Report Generation – It is essential to check the daily activity of the app, therefore, the report generation feature is a must for a doctor appointment booking app. It enables you to understand where you may require some improvement and which area is now your strong suit. 

Advanced Features (1)

How Technology Complements Healthcare Industry

Pain Points and Use Cases:

Use Cases

Comprehensive EMS Data CollectionWith the guidance of the Clinical Data Management system, EMS providers can compare a hospital’s diagnosis in real-time, and take necessary measures accordingly. It digitally stores data, thus substantially improving the workflow of the healthcare marketplace.

Innovation in mHealthcare – Several apps available on the online marketplace help women relax and soothe their pain during pregnancy. With a doctor appointment booking app, women can e-consult doctors,  especially during odd-hours or in regions where medical services are not as effective.

Patient Management – Doctors, nurses, and other caregivers within a healthcare marketplace can use their smartphones to manage patients. In a doctor appointment booking app, its main features include managing patient rounding, patient information, room allocation, diagnosis, e-Prescriptions, billing records, among other things. It results in better staff optimization and improved productivity.

Timely Medications and Systemized Processes – For a doctor appointment booking app, the core function of this feature is to send out push notifications as per the medication schedule. This feature also makes it easier for physicians to keep track of their patient’s health.

Life-saving Wearables Devices Wearable health trackers and smartwatches can gather important health data such as heart rate, blood sugar, posture control, sleep patterns, and other physical activities. It helps patients get more control over their health and fitness routine.

Extending Rural Access –  Around 3.6 million Americans miss getting medical care due to lack of affordable, accessible, and reliable transportation. Other factors like geographic scope, cultural backgrounds, and languages spoken, along with other economic, health, and social obstacles may prove prohibitive for patients in getting medical care.

With doctor appointment booking apps, accessibility in rural areas has increased that enabled them to get medical care which wasn’t possible earlier.

Pain Points

Sensitive Data

According to a recent study, 81% of the mHealth apps share consumer data with Google and Facebook. And only half of these mHealth apps are clear about their data-sharing practices. This ambiguous practice puts patient data security at risk as they are unlikely to consider future implications when met with a pressing healthcare issue. On top of that, most of the mHealth apps are prone to Cyberattacks. Business owners generally put security on the back burner, thus, further exposing the user data to threats.

Solutions

  • Provide access control of Patient Health Information (PHI) to relevant people.
  • Permission should be required to check access is given to the right person.
  • Automatic log off features with specific options can be implemented.
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be used to check the integrity of health data.
  • VPN also makes use of strong encryption algorithms to protect PHI.
  • To protect the patient data an option to delete the data from user-end can be provided.

Security-first Software Development

According to the HIPAA Journal, several mhealth apps, including FDA-approved ones, have security issues. Furthermore, a study conducted by Arxan Technologies revealed that 84% of FDA-approved mhealth apps present a notable threat of data exposed and devices being compromised. These vulnerabilities arise because most of the business owners do not prioritize a security-first doctor appointment booking app development, that exposes their whole system to danger. Preventive measures like developing a  HIPAA compliant app and involving a security expert will immensely improve the digital delivery of the doctor appointment booking app.

Solution

  • Maintain a 24/7 log of traffic on the network and identify rogue attacks.
  • To secure the data, Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) should be preferred.
  • An alternative secure solution can be to use a superior algorithm in the OSI stack.
  • While encryption is ideal, considering going for end-to-end and MD5 encryption.

Communication Barriers

One of the major problems faced by the mHealth industry is the absence of clear communication channels. Lack of proper infrastructure, inadequate internet speed, shortage of technical knowledge, among other things are some of the major communication barriers faced by healthcare providers.

Communication personalization is a decisive force for healthcare marketers in a value-based healthcare marketplace. Additionally, the use of telecommunication, online discussion platforms, and real-time meetings to facilitate asynchronous consultations improved approachability.

Besides, digital communications modernized healthcare experience considerably. Now, healthcare professionals have the freedom to monitor health symptoms, signs, and even blood pressure level while being located far away from their patients.

This helped in the effective and economic management of chronic conditions. With the rise of mHealth apps, smoother communication via intuitive communication channels will be a guiding force for doctors and patients alike.

Solutions

  • Priority can be given to intrahospital communication such as transmitting patient records
  • Channels of communication should be open between hospital and 3rd-party researchers
  • Superior error control mechanisms can be used to ensure relevant entries in the database
  • Adequate use of tools pushes patient-doctor and inter-departmental communication

Big Data for Transparency

Big Data is collecting & analyzing consumers’ physical and clinical data that is too complex to be understood by conventional means of data processing. To pick up warning signs of serious illness early in a patient’s life, doctors want to learn as much as they can because treating a disease at an early stage is far simpler and way less expensive.

Also, with the help of healthcare data analytics, portraying a complete picture of a patient’s health will let the insurers provide a more suitable package. By creating a holistic, 360-degree view of consumers, patients and physicians, hospitals can improve healthcare efficiency, effectiveness, and personalization of the treatments. Identification of patterns in health outcomes, patient satisfaction, and hospital growth is vital for the advancement of the healthcare sector as a whole.

Solutions

  • Risk scores feature can be provided based on patient-generated data.
  • Risk scores can be used for insights on hospital readmission rates.
  • Analytics can be integrated to predict patients who may skip an appointment.
  • Visualizations tools can be used to present scheduling changes.
  • The analytics feature can present insights into supply chain ordering patterns.

Rural Connection

For several years, doctors and hospitals have been trying to find a fitting solution for the limited healthcare access for the population residing in the rural parts of the U.S. The problem is two-fold – their inability to attract, afford or retain speciality providers and lack of health insurance. Thus, Telemedicine could very well be the answer to these problems.

Telemedicine addresses economic stability by accommodating rural residents to save money on travel expenses. It also overcomes the difficulties residents face in areas where public transportation is inadequate and strengthens overall patient engagement. Since the treatment is usually delivered locally, it also benefits several specific rural populations, including rural residents with disabilities, those struggling with substance use disorders and/or mental health conditions, and those with limited English proficiency.

Solutions

Video conferencing feature can be used to connect hospitals in rural areas with those in metropolitan areas.

mHealth App Variants

Everyday Health Apps

Everyday Health apps essentially consist of tracker apps that aid in keeping track of the daily activities. By using analytics, it weighs metrics and other details to make distinct conclusions. Apps like Runkeeper, Calory Counter, and more send the notifications to its users with the updated numbers on their respective devices.

Hospital & Electronic Health Records (EHR) Apps

EHR apps are popularly used to document patient history while allowing online access to Electronic Medical Record (EMR) for the attending physicians. These apps not only save data that improves productivity but also permits physicians and clinics to provide safer remedies & prescriptions.

With app features like online appointment and in-app payments, EHR apps can substantially improve the overall proficiency of a hospital or a clinic. To set reminders for appointments and adherence to medication, EHR apps also provide an in-App Calendar.

EMR App

EMR (Electronic Medical Records) apps have proven to be a great differential in the healthcare industry. These apps enable physicians to online access patients’ medical histories that empower doctors to provide safer healthcare services. COVID-19 pushed the need & demand for EMR apps considerably. During such a perilous time, it enabled physicians to observe their patient’s situation and disease without risking their health.

Popular mHealth App Segments -Final

Factors to Consider While Developing a Doctor Appointment Booking App

Target Hardware – While developing on iOS is faster development time with Android takes more time. Accordingly, the cost also varies. Furthermore, the target audience is the major deciding factor when it comes to choosing the right hardware.

Interoperability – Interoperability with the existing Clinical Management System (CMS) used by the hospital staff is essential. It enables the clinic/hospital to assert an effective and seamless working system, therefore, ensure that your CMS has interoperability.

UI/UX Considerations – 21% of millennials tend to delete the app if the user experience is not good. Design of a doctor appointment booking app should be user-friendly. Moreover, it should be according to the target audience needs – large fonts for old people, neutral colour for the colour blind.

API Components – Ensure the API components used are deployed accurately for more secure authentication and communication between separate components of the app.

Develop Iteratively – An initial app design is likely to be flawed, resulting in cost overruns and sometimes, even project cancellations. Industry experts support using agile development considering risks are mitigated at the beginning, changing requirements are accommodated efficiently, and reusability can be increased that results in a robust end product.

Data Security – The app servers are built for speed, not security, and are not difficult to breach into thus, business owners must insist on end-to-end encryption or send data over secure communication channels.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – MVP accommodates a great deal in arranging customer’s feedback which is important for business development & growth. It is essential to have sufficient features to provide the primary users. As a business owner, it will also help you understand how many added features you need in order to draw more users to your platform.

Device Security – Cybersecurity is a major issue today. Android apps are less secure than iOS apps are, and yet, Android constitutes more than 80% of the smartphone market today. Make sure that you’re hiring a professional & experienced doctor appointment booking app development company that will ensure the safety of the device and the user data by deploying secure methods.

Testing Healthcare Applications – Testing is imperative; a business owner must test the security in accordance with different authenticities like PII, PHII, and HIPAA compliance. For doctor appointment booking apps which require a geo-location service, carefully check the accuracy and preciseness, build a real-world scenario, test the application with poor connectivity, test performance by setting high load and performance benchmarks, and check the adaptability of your app by testing it on various platforms like iOS & Android.

Doctor Appointment Booking App Success Formula

  • Retaining user-base is of utmost significance and as a business owner, you can achieve that by offering rewards, discounts, promos, loyalty offers, and other benefits.
  • The focus should be on establishing a dependable network of doctors.
  • Before everything, doctors’ authentication is paramount. Lives are at stake so as a business owner, you must validate each doctor’s certificates, licenses, and other vital documents.
  • The Revenue Model of your Doctor’s Appointment Booking app is crucial. Therefore, carefully select your monetization strategy that will be beneficial for near-term as well as long-term plans.

Conclusion

Even though technology has taken over the world for good, real progress in the Healthcare sector still has a lot of distance to cover. Business owners need to acknowledge the importance of doctors for they are the present & the future of the Healthcare industry.

With the emergence of Telemedicine & mHealth, doctors can treat their patients virtually, and people in suburban & rural areas can finally avail healthcare facilities they have been longing for ages. As for business owners, mHealth is one of the fastest-growing & emerging industries in the world which should encourage them to invest their time, money & skills in this sector.

Ready to Connect with your Patients with your own Doctor Appointment Booking App?

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