Useful and Useable: Basic Mobile Development Philosophy in Action

By Brannon Gillis, Mobile Product Manager

Mobile development in healthcare has taken a rocky road. Early on, mobile app development basically involved building a remote login for the desktop application. You’d just try to navigate the web apps on a tablet or phone–it didn’t really workout. There are some vendors that are still trying to go down that path. Other options involve an HTML5 application, which is really just a mobile website.

Then there’s a hybrid model, a mix of html/html5 and some native code. Technically, you can store as much data as you need with this model, but it requires a constant internet connection to be useful. Hybrid apps are nice from a business standpoint because one app runs on multiple platforms and therefore decreasing development costs, but the user can suffer.

Finally, there’s the full native route, building a full application specifically for mobile device use, essentially creating a complete, standalone portal that operates on its own, syncing with the back end as needed. The native option allows developers to take advantage of the built in behaviors and OS designed controls. Not to mention, you can run it completely offline.

Ingenious Med went with a native application for very specific reasons: reliability for the user, and it allowed us to create the best possible physician-focused user experience.

The amount of data a native application allows you to store on the device is much greater, so if a user is in any area of the hospital where cell service and/or wifi is not terribly reliable, functionality is still there. This is very important; we made it a priority early on.

Even offline, we wanted users to still be able to operate as normal. With a native application, users can proceed as normal, and the application will just automatically sync when connectivity is available, updating itself and the greater system to reflect any changes.

This goes beyond convenience, though. There are examples of hospitals going through power outages, or having hardware/computer outages where users couldn’t access their electronic medical record (EMR), or hospital information system (HIS). These are all problems that come up with any business and sometimes technical issues like that means a business has to just stop operations until it’s addressed, but healthcare isn’t like that. People need quality care regardless of circumstances affecting the providers. We wanted to make sure we addressed that. So, with an application like ours, users have the ability to use it whether they can connect or not, whether there’s a power outage or not. IM1 doesn’t just address the business of healthcare, we’re striving to impact quality of care, so continued operations become more critical as time goes by, and that’s on us to deliver it.