First and foremost, you are welcome to download the app I created which will give you ideas on how to create your own app (it's free!). We all have benefited from the good work done before us. I hope the work I've done will help you create an EVEN BETTER APP for your practice. Go to the bottom of this article to use a QR code reader to go to the "Skyline Family Practice" App or type in "Skyline Family Practice" (and SEARCH) when on your smartphone app store with your smartphone (available for iPhone, Android and Windows smartphones).
Building the APP
Start with how you want to have each screen of the app. Design this around your office philosophy and your patient population. Get a yellow legal pad and draw the structure of your app. Then go for it!
Before you begin,here is a link you might find helpful: http://appmc.hn/1pKRQ9A
Building an App is not as hard as you might think. Although my journey was about 3 months (from concept to completed app - I'm in full time practice). You can do it much faster (probably in 1-2 months)!
I've outlined a lot of the other processes and ideas in a blog post that is on the AppMachine website*. The case for developing the app both from a patient oriented and business perspective is in the blog post. Some of the features and the steps I took are available to help you develop your own App:
Although AppMachine has the service and platform on which I developed the app for our practice, please don't feel like you have to use that web-service. There are many out there that can do the same thing.
Some further hints and ideas follow.
Create content such as your office hours and how you can be reached after hours. The phone numbers in an app (on many smart phones) will automatically start the call by tapping on number. Introduce your staff and put your policies in the app. The list goes on. Later, like in our app, you can create more content and functionality (like linking to your practice web portal and having an appointment request ability).
Other applications used for developing the App components
Although there are many other apps that can be used in developing a functional app, you really don't even need those for basic app development within AppMachine or other web-based app programs. However, I found the following applications to be invaluable (and the reasons why they worked for me):
If you don't want to create your own videos, you can often find what you want to present to your patients on YouTube. For instance, we've found the parenting videos from the Centers for Disease Control to be very useful. It's easy enough to link the URL (website address) within the app module which then will give your patients access to the video from within the app. A potential problem is the fact that a YouTube subscriber's video may be 'taken down' and become unavailable. If you have used that YouTube URL address, then it would not be available in the App since the URL linking wouldn't work.
Further information on videos
I have found using the PDF format to be the best format documents and smartphones. Certainly, patient education documents you may want to reference can be in the HTML language (HTML - hypertext mark-up language). If you do use HTML documents you reference, make sure you have a tag between the HEAD tags in the HTML document to help optimize that HTML document for viewing on smartphones. This tag is the <viewport> tag that will help a HTML document size to fit the smartphone screen which could be as small as 320 x 480 pixels in visual real estate. PDF documents can also be 'optimized' for viewing on a smart phone but this is well beyond the scope of this article.
This article and the links are by no means an exhaustive review but should spurn you to strongly consider creating your own app.
By using the various features in the APP, our patients can 'stay connected' with us. We help them get timely information, or, have that information readily available through the app for their use. It's nice to show a new diabetic what resources they can have easy access by having them download the App. It was recently helpful to "PUSH" messages to our patients when we had an upsurge in calls on how to remove ticks (we are in an endemic Lyme disease region). We pushed the message to access our app for information on Lyme disese and tick removal. The phone call traffic on TICKS dropped dramatically. Besides the "wow" factor, the APP has and continues to be a helpful adjunct for patient engagement with our practice.
I would encourage you and your practice to consider this journey!
*Disclaimer: I have no financial interests in AppMachine nor any other company (and their products) mentioned in this article!