When your startup is ready to start building the first version of your digital product, you will probably face a few challenges at first. The requirements of the healthcare industry are specific in some respects, and meeting them can be quite challenging at the very beginning. What should you know before developing an MVP for your first healthcare software?

healthcare mvp challenges and how to overcome them

Challenge 1. Health risks for some groups of patients

Healthcare is a specific industry because it’s about human life and health – the stakes are high. Therefore, the introduction of new digital products to the market in this area entails certain limitations. For this reason, developing an MVP is not always recommended. Especially in the case of acute diseases, difficult health conditions, or severe medical cases, there must be other solutions considered. In cases where a patient needs urgent medical support, they should use professional, well-tested software rather than relying on MVP. What kind of applications can be safely approached with MVPs then?

  • wearable medical devices,
  • apps supporting healthy lifestyle, providing reliable content, tips or advice,
  • apps delivering clinical information or references,
  • medication reminding apps,
  • meditation applications,
  • apps for healthy lifestyle management and health condition monitoring (wellness&fitness, diet, rehydration control, heartbeat or temperature trackers).

Challenge 2. Data security compliance and regulations

In the Healthcare industry you have to deal with a great amount of sensitive data, that’s why you have to be very careful when it comes to data security compliances and regulations. Data of patients’ are strictly regulated. If you develop a Minimum Viable Product that violates the regulations applicable in a given region, you may end up with a penalty. Depending on the country, there are a few different categories of the regulations, like:

  • HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – US federal law that protects patients privacy and their medical records. HIPAA also gives companies the ability to share information with their clients in a safe and secure manner. In particular, HIPAA requires healthcare providers to take appropriate steps in order to:

    – protect the confidentiality of health information by restricting access only to those who need it for treatment or care,

    – ensure the security of health information by following appropriate procedures if information relating to a person’s health is disclosed or made available outside the organization.

To comply with this law, you must have adequate security measures – you can use electronic data encryption codes and make sure that no third parties have access to patient information. The HIPAA provisions were supplemented in 2009 by the HITECH Act (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act).

  • GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation – EU regulation, containing provisions on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and provisions on the free movement of personal data. GDPR refers to all personal data of the people within its scope, while HIPAA regulates and protects just the health information of patients.
  • DPA – Data Protection Act – regulation protecting personal data of the UK-based patients and companies.
  • When it comes to medical software development, there are also a few ISO and IEC standards that must be taken into account to provide high quality and safety of both personal data and the medical software itself.
healthcare mvp challenges and how to overcome them

Challenge 3. Prioritization of the most important features

Sometimes it may be diffucult to distinguish the key features that have to be implemented before others. At the beginning of healthcare MVP development, you should discuss the crucial aspects of your future product with other experts: the development team, Project Managers, designers, business development specialists and the marketing department. To build a successful MVP, it has to be combined work of many people. If you don’t know what to start with, you can try some proven methods of prioritization, that can help you to manage the sequence and priorities and keep everything in order. Let me introduce you to 3 common methods that will be perfect at the beginning of your journey, when building an MVP:

1. MoSCoW is one of the simplest prioritization methods but it’s perfect for MVPs. It stands for Must, Should, Could and Won’t. It’s reasonable to use this method with small products which don’t require many technical restrictions and dependencies.

  • Must is about obligatory features which must be included in the application because without them the whole project will fail.
  • Should refers to those features that are marked as great to have but they’re not the most significant ones. They have to be applied but don’t have much impact on the delivery success.
  • Could is about small advancements which don’t play any critial role in the project but their presence doesn’t interfere with the release.
  • Won’t address to the features of a the lowest importance. Due to their insignificance, they can be easily omitted or postponed for the next release.

2. KANO model is the next prioritization technique and a bit more complex than MoSCoW. It’s an analytical tool combining the product’s characteristics with the level of clients’ satisfaction. This method divides priorities by 5 following criteria:

  • Must-be users consider a product functional only if these features are included.
  • One-dimensional – features of ambivalent nature: they aren’t obligatory for the product’s functioning but they’re strongly desireable for the customers. This category is about predicting your target group’s needs and demands. If you won’t deliver these features, the probability of the user’s experience dissapointment is higher.
  • Attractive – nice-to-have and enjoyable features for the users but also unexpected for them so their absence won’t lead to disappointment.
  • Indifferent – attributes that don’t add any value to the product from the perspective of customer. They’re indifferent for them.
  • Reverse – features that have a negative impact on the level of user satisfaction, and may even irritate them. It’s better to give up on them.

3. Story Mapping – the last but not least. This technique allows to see the product through the eyes of the user and to walk their path. In this method, you have to write down step by step how the customer uses each feature, what their needs and goals are. Thanks to this, you can be sure that all stakeholders know what you want to achieve together. Such a map of user behavior is the basis for planning and starting the development phase.

healthcare mvp challenges and how to overcome them

Challenge 4. Changeable demands of patients

When you’re about to build an MVP for your HealthTech digital product, you should be aware that the needs and expectations of your target audience are very dynamic in this sector. The pandemic of COVID-19 has shown us how dynamic the needs of patients can be in recent years and how quickly the industry has transformed. From 2019 to 2020, the digital health market grew at a rate of 11%.

But the demands of patients are not only changing due to the external circumstances. Over the years, patients’ requirements regarding the quality and method of providing medical services have changed. A new type of digital patients is entering the market, who aren’t satisfied with the care of the public health service, operating in a traditional, offline manner. There is a growing group of patients who choose medical services on the basis of experiences from the entire treatment process, not only the prices. In order to attract such people, it’s necessary to build a system focused on the patient – their problems, needs and satisfaction with the treatment.

Technology offers unlimited possibilities to improve the quality of patient experiences. New groups of recipients are open to digital innovations and expect easy access to medical services. They want to make an appointment with the same ease as signing up for a hairdresser, setting up an account on a dating site, or buying a movie ticket. They eagerly use self-service solutions, such as internet patient portals or chatbots. The implementation of such virtual solutions has a positive effect on the comfort and satisfaction of not only customers but also employees.

Challenge 5. Competitive market of the Healthcare industry

Due to the fact that human health concerns literally every person in the world, the world of Healthcare is a very competitive market. New Healthcare providers show up regularly with their new innovative ideas.  An in-depth research of solutions already available on the market as well as a comprehensive analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors will allow you to gather valuable information for your product’s further development. For the project to be successful, you need to focus on the problems and needs of your target patients, as well as on developing your own USP (Unique Selling Product).

Challenge 6. Cyber attacks

HealthTech apps are are usually even more vulnerable to cybercrime than other applications even if it’s only MVP because they often contain loads of sensitive information and personal data. For that reason it’s a must-have to provide in your product multi-level authentication and advanced verification technologies.


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Developing MVP for a Healthcare startup requires iteration

Remember that Healthcare MVP development process is a constant ideation and iteration. Let your initial mobile app grow at its own pace. Observe, analyze, draw conclusions and learn from mistakes, and most of all listen to your customers’ feedback. If you’d like to learn more about the process of developing an MVP for your digital product, read our previous article on that topic.