Accessing health information on mobile devices is becoming the new norm but choosing the right type of app for your healthcare business can be a difficult decision. In the following article we will explore different types of apps, the differences between them and how to decide which app is best for you. There are four types of apps available: native, web, cloud and hybrid apps.
Native apps are the ones you download on to your phone or tablet via Google play or the App store. These apps are launched through your phones operating system. Native apps are made to suit a particular type of device. Each platform uses a different language and set of development tools, interactive elements and a defined SDK. (Software development kit)
Advantages of Native Apps:
If your budget allows, Native apps are ideal. They offer the best ‘user experience’ when you want an app built from scratch for multi-platform use. They are, however, expensive and require time consuming regular maintenance.
A Cloud app is one that functions in the Cloud and shares some of the characteristics of a Native app and a Web app. Put simply, a Cloud app is a software product running as a service, online, on at least two servers, designed with enhanced redundancy, scalability, and access control, usually intended for multiple users.
Common Cloud apps include Evernote, Sugar Sync, Salesforce and Dropbox.
Web apps are exclusively web based and designed to work from a browser – they could be considered a kind of tiny website. Web apps are often designed to look and behave like Native apps. They are ideal when you want to make content or functionality available on a mobile device without the cost or maintenance issues of a Native app.
The browser will use the web server to operate the app, and because Web apps are exclusively web based there is little opportunity to customise the content, features and layout.
Examples of web apps include Facebook, Amazon, EBay, Trainline and online banking.
Hybrid apps are also a cross between Native and Web apps, built using the same languages used to write Web apps, so they are easier to create and maintain than Cloud apps.
Each app type has advantages and disadvantages, some of them far from obvious to the less technically able. The first step is to work out what your app has to do to fulfil its function, then decide the best way for people to find it and then use it. This last will be the most important – if it’s a system for, say, paramedics it can’t be an app that won’t work unless it’s connected to the internet. If it’s for use inside a hospital, that isn’t an issue. If it’s intended for patients to use at home, it must be simple to understand and foolproof to operate. In all cases, the most important things are what it does, for who, and where – from that will flow which kind of App is best and how it should be designed. As Modernist architect Louis Sullivan said – ‘form follows function’. Apps in healthcare are here to stay, and any healthcare organisation that is exploring this route needs to carefully consider their options.