How to develop a medical app for Canadian healthcare businesses

Eugene Makieiev, BDM
How to develop a medical app for Canadian healthcare businesses

Over the past decade, medical apps have become crucial in healthcare. They are convenient and enhance communication between physicians and patients. In 2022, this software segment had a revenue of $6.89 billion, and it is projected to grow at a CAGR of 28.4%, reaching $50.94 billion by 2030.

With the growth of chronic diseases and the adoption of digital health solutions, medical apps are becoming increasingly popular. They address key industry challenges and offer solutions for remote patient monitoring, telemedicine, and proactive health management.

Today, let's examine medical app types, features, and regulatory requirements. You will also learn about crucial development steps and challenges to overcome.

What Is a Medical App?

Medical apps are software applications that assist medical professionals or patients in diagnosing, treating, or monitoring diseases or injuries. They can be developed for various platforms, including smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices.

Mobile medical apps (MMAs) address various medical needs of patients:

  • Symptom tracking allows users to monitor and record their symptoms over time.

  • Customized self-care instructions provide personalized guidance for self-care based on individual health conditions.

  • Biofeedback offers tools for users to monitor and manage physiological responses like heart rate or stress levels.

  • Glucose tracking and insulin dose calculation assist patients with diabetes.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy provides resources and exercises to support mental health and emotional well-being.

  • Treatment protocol adherence support helps patients adhere to prescribed treatment plans and medication schedules.

  • Reporting on health status allows patients to share health data and progress reports with their healthcare providers.

Medical apps specifically designed for clinical and medical objectives may be subject to legal regulations and are sometimes classified as mobile medical devices.

What’s the Difference between Medical and Health Apps?

Healthcare apps usually fall into two main types: medical apps and health apps. While solutions support users in managing their health, the key difference lies in the level of medical involvement and regulatory scrutiny.

1. Medical apps are specifically designed to provide medical services, information, or assistance. They often involve more advanced functionalities, including diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of medical conditions.

  • Symptom checker apps like WebMD and Ada allow users to input their symptoms and receive potential diagnoses or recommendations for further action.

  • Telemedicine apps like Amwell and Doctor on Demand facilitate remote consultations with healthcare professionals via video calls or messaging for medical advice, prescriptions, and treatment plans.

  • Medication management apps like Medisafe and MyTherapy help users manage their medications by providing dosage schedules, reminders, and information about drug interactions.

  • Diagnostic tools like iHealth and AliveCor include blood pressure monitors, glucose meters, and ECG (electrocardiogram) devices connected to smartphones or tablets to monitor health metrics.

2. Health apps focus on promoting general health and well-being, typically by providing tools for tracking and improving lifestyle habits. While they may offer some medical information, they are not intended to provide diagnosis or treatment.

  • Fitness trackers like Google Fit or Strava track physical activity, including steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned.

  • Diet and nutrition apps like MyFitnessPal and Lifesum help users track their food intake, set dietary goals, and receive nutritional information.

  • Mental health apps like Calm and Headspace provide meditation, mindfulness, and stress reduction resources.

  • Sleep tracking apps like Sleep Cycle and Sleep Score track sleep patterns and provide insights into sleep quality, duration, and disturbances.

Types of Medical Apps

Let's explore the most essential mobile apps in healthcare that allow consumers to monitor and address various health concerns.

Remote Patient Monitoring

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) apps enable healthcare providers to check patients' health status and vital signs, usually through wearable devices or sensors. These solutions help manage chronic conditions, detect health issues, and prevent complications.

Key features:

  • Integration with wearable devices/sensors;

  • Real-time monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, etc.;

  • Alerts for abnormal readings or health concerns;

  • Interactive dashboards displaying health data trends and insights;

  • Secure communication channels.

Examples: Biofourmis, Cardiogram, Medtronic

ER/Urgent Care Apps

ER/Urgent Care solutions offer quick access to medical care for urgent health concerns, providing virtual consultations and guidance for non-life-threatening conditions. They aim to cut down on ER visits and assist patients promptly.

Key features:

  • Virtual consultations with healthcare professionals;

  • Symptom checkers for self-assessment;

  • Prescription services for common medications;

  • Navigation to nearby urgent care facilities or hospitals;

  • Secure messaging for follow-up communication.

Examples: Teladoc, Doctor On Demand , HealthTap

General Hospital Apps

Hospital apps serve as digital platforms for patients, visitors, and staff to interact with the hospital's resources. They enhance patient engagement, streamline tasks, and offer healthcare services and information access.

Key features:

  • Appointment scheduling and reminders;

  • Access to medical records and test results;

  • Wayfinding and navigation within the hospital;

  • Telemedicine services for virtual consultations;

  • Educational resources and health content.

Examples: Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Stanford Health Care

Clinical & Diagnosis Assistant Apps

Such apps aid healthcare professionals in clinical decision-making, diagnosis, and treatment planning by providing access to medical references, guidelines, and tools. They are valuable resources for enhancing patient care and clinical outcomes.

Key features:

  • Access to medical textbooks, journals, and guidelines;

  • Drug databases with dosing information and interactions;

  • Medical calculators for clinical assessments;

  • Diagnostic aids and algorithms for differential diagnosis;

  • Continuing medical education resources.

Examples: Medscape, Epocrates, UpToDate

Medication Tracking Apps

Medication-tracking apps assist individuals in managing their drug regimens with the help of reminders, pill identification, and medication history tracking. They help improve drug adherence and prevent errors.

Key features:

  • Customizable medication schedules and reminders;

  • Drug databases with dosing instructions and images;

  • Refill reminders and prescription management;

  • Medication adherence tracking and reporting;

  • Drug interaction checking and side effect information.

Examples: MyTherapy, Medisafe, EveryDose

What to Consider Before Developing a Medical App

What should you consider before starting development? We recommend you note these three aspects:

Platform Choice

When choosing the platform for your medical app (iOS, Android, web-based), consider your target audience's preferences, market share, and development resources. You should also determine whether you'll develop a native app (specifically designed for one platform) or a cross-platform app (compatible with multiple platforms).


Ensure your app can integrate with Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, wearables, medical devices, and other health IT platforms commonly used in healthcare settings. In some cases, integration with a legacy system may required. Also, you must adhere to industry standards and protocols (HL7, FHIR) to facilitate data exchange and interoperability.

Proper Security

For better security, we highly recommend you:

  • Implement end-to-end data encryption to safeguard data transmitted between the app and servers.

  • Utilize biometric and multifactor authentication to verify users' identities and prevent unauthorized access.

  • Comply with relevant data protection laws or local regulations governing healthcare data privacy.

Regulatory Requirements for Medical Apps in Canada

It’s time to explore Canada's regulatory framework for mobile apps in healthcare.


HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) primarily focuses on health information and applies to specific entities like healthcare providers and related organizations — billing companies, health plans, and pharmacies. It mandates stringent standards for handling personal data to safeguard patients.

While HIPAA does not directly apply in Canada, developers need to understand its principles if their app may interact with users or data from the United States.


PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) is Canada's counterpart to HIPAA, which extends beyond health information. It safeguards various types of personal data, including names, ID numbers, blood types, incomes, opinions, medical records, comments, social statements, payments, and ethnic origins.

Provincial Health Information Acts

Some provinces have local privacy laws equivalent to PIPEDA, which are relevant for medical apps used in these areas. Here are some examples:

PHIPA (Ontario)

PHIPA (Personal Health Information Protection Act) is Ontario's provincial legislation governing the collection, use, and disclosure of personal health information (PHI) within the healthcare sector. It applies to healthcare providers, including hospitals, clinics, and healthcare practitioners, as well as businesses providing services to healthcare organizations.

PHIPA sets out rules for protecting electronic PHI, breach notification requirements, and patient rights regarding access to their health information.

PIPA (British Columbia)

The Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) in British Columbia, enacted in 2003, regulates the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by private sector organizations. PIPA requires organizations to obtain consent for collecting personal information, limit its use and disclosure, and implement security safeguards. Individuals have the right to access their information and request corrections.

Depending on your area of operation, you may want to consult similar provincial information acts, such as:

  • Alberta's Health Information Act (HIA),

  • Quebec's Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector,

  • Saskatchewan's Health Information Protection Act (HIPA),

  • Newfoundland and Labrador's Personal Health Information Act (PHIA), etc.

The Mandatory Medical App Features

Medical applications may vary based on institution, scale, and industry, contain or not contain AI algorythms, but there are essential features beneficial for any solution.

Doctors’ and Patients’ Profiles Registration

Let doctors create detailed profiles showcasing their qualifications, specialties, experience, and any additional certifications. They can also include their appointment availability, consultation fees, and accepted insurance plans.

At the same time, patients should be allowed to create profiles containing name, age, gender, contact details, and medical history with preferences, allergies, and insurance information.

Appointment Management

Allow patients to browse available time slots and schedule in-person or online appointments with chosen doctors, rescheduling or canceling appointments as needed. Of course, the app should notify both parties of appointments or any changes — via push notifications, email, or SMS.


Medical apps offer secure video or audio consultations between doctors and patients. Patients remotely describe their symptoms, receive medical advice, and discuss treatment options.

Secure Messaging

Encrypt all messages between doctors and patients to protect sensitive medical information from unauthorized access. Users should be able to attach files, such as images or documents, for better communication.

Symptom Checker

Don’t forget about the symptom checker, which has a user-friendly interface and a series of questions to assess their symptoms accurately. The app should provide personalized recommendations — self-care advice, seeking immediate medical attention, or scheduling a consultation with a healthcare provider.

Integration with patients' health records allows for a more comprehensive assessment and ensures that recommendations consider their medical history and existing conditions.

Health Records Access

Provide patients with a comprehensive overview of their medical history, diagnoses, medications, allergies, immunizations, and laboratory test results. Add search and filter options so users can find specific information.

As data is sensitive, employ strict security measures like encryption, access controls, and authentication mechanisms.


Let doctors generate electronic prescriptions within the app, specifying the drug, dosage, frequency, and duration. Consider the ability to transmit e-prescriptions to patients' preferred pharmacies, allowing them to easily pick up their medications.

Emergency Services

When planning your app, include access to local emergency services, poison control centers, and crisis hotlines. Using GPS technology, the app can identify the user's location and provide directions to the nearest hospitals, urgent care centers, or pharmacies in case of emergencies.

At the same time, include basic first aid instructions and guidance on what to do in common emergency situations, such as heart attacks, strokes, or allergic reactions.

Ratings and Reviews

Ratings and reviews help users make informed decisions when selecting healthcare providers within the app.

That’s why patients should be able to rate medicians based on their experiences and share detailed feedback about their appointments. For example, it could be a comment on the doctor's professionalism, bedside manner, waiting times, and overall satisfaction.

Medical Application Development Steps

Developing a medical app requires a systematic approach to ensure its effectiveness and usability. Here's a step-by-step guide to follow:

Define the Type of Medical App

Determine the specific purpose and focus of your medical app, whether it's for telemedicine, symptom tracking, medication management, or health record access. Consider the needs of healthcare professionals and patients to define the app's niche and functionality.

Conduct Market Research

Perform thorough market research to understand the competitive landscape and user needs. Identify existing medical apps in your chosen niche and analyze their features, strengths, and weaknesses. Gather insights into user preferences, pain points, and expectations. Explore market trends, regulatory requirements, and opportunities for innovation.

Define Monetization Strategy

Determine how your medical app will generate revenue. Explore monetization strategies like subscription models, in-app purchases, advertising, or partnerships with healthcare organizations. Align the monetization strategy with the value proposition of the app and the preferences of healthcare professionals and patients.

Consider offering a freemium model with basic features available for free and premium features available for a subscription fee.

Design UX and UI

Design an intuitive and user-friendly interface for your medical app, prioritizing clarity and ease of use. Consider the specific needs and preferences of healthcare professionals and patients. Be sure to conduct usability testing to refine the design and ensure a positive user experience.

Develop the Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Develop an MVP version of your medical app with essential features to validate the concept and gather user feedback. Focus on core functionalities such as user registration, appointment scheduling, medical data management, and communication features. To expedite development and testing, you can start with a single platform (iOS or Android).

Test and Gather Feedback

Conduct thorough testing of the medical app to identify bugs, usability issues, and areas for improvement. Gather feedback through surveys, interviews, and usability testing sessions. Then, use it to iterate on the app's user interface and functionality.

Analyze Data and Plan Improvements

Analyze user data, feedback, and usage metrics to identify opportunities for enhancement. You should monitor user engagement, retention rates, and app performance metrics. Identify trends, patterns, and user behavior insights to inform future development decisions.

Plan enhancements and updates based on user needs, regulatory requirements, and industry best practices. It’s important to continuously iterate on the medical app to improve its usability and value proposition.

Development and Non-Development Challenges that Need to Be Considered

Creating a responsive medical app poses challenges, but its effective navigation can lead to success. Below, we address common development hurdles and offer solutions.

Data Security and Privacy

In 2022, healthcare organizations averaged 1,463 cyberattacks a week (+74% compared with 2021), as Check Point Research states. Therefore, robust cybersecurity is a must for any medical app.

How to overcome:

Integration Issues

Medical apps often need to integrate with existing healthcare systems, electronic health records (EHRs), and other medical devices. Achieving interoperability can be challenging due to differences in data formats, standards, and protocols.

How to overcome:

  • Develop APIs and standards-compliant interfaces to enable seamless data exchange between systems.

Scalability and Performance

As the user base grows and the app's functionality expands, scalability becomes critical. Ensuring the app can handle increasing loads, accommodate growing data volumes, and maintain optimal performance under varying conditions.

How to overcome:

  • Utilize scalable components and patterns such as microservices architecture, serverless computing, and distributed databases.

  • Implement horizontal scaling to accommodate increasing loads and user traffic.

  • Employ caching mechanisms to reduce the load on backend servers and improve response times.

  • Use auto-scaling mechanisms to dynamically adjust resource allocation based on demand.

User Adoption and Engagement

Non-acceptance of technology will hinder digital transformation.

How to overcome:

  • Educate healthcare professionals and patients about the app's benefits, addressing concerns about usability and security.

  • Provide ongoing support and training to foster adoption and usage.

Improve Healthcare Outcomes with Integrio

Developing a medical app in Canada requires careful consideration of regulatory requirements, user needs, and industry standards. By partnering with Integrio, you can navigate these challenges effectively and create an effective health or fitness solution that meets the needs of the Canadian market.

Do you need artificial intelligence or machine learning medical solutions? Our team employs advanced technologies, meeting the needs of startups and established large enterprises. Contact Integrio to discuss your project requirements.


In 2024, medical mobile app ideas focusing on e-prescriptions, remote patient monitoring for chronic conditions, and AI-driven diagnostic assistance are particularly promising.

The time required to develop a medical app can vary based on complexity, features, and regulatory requirements. On average, creating a basic medical solution may take around 4 to 6 months, while more complex apps with advanced features require 12 to 18 months or longer.

Mobile medical applications offer convenient access to healthcare services, personalized med management tools, and timely information. All this makes them a promising solution for improving healthcare accessibility and patient engagement. With the widespread adoption of smartphones and technological advancements, such apps enhance medical delivery, empower patients, and facilitate proactive health management.

The development cost of a medical app depends on its complexity, features, platform, and regulatory compliance requirements. On average, be ready to spend $30,000 to $80,000 on a basic system, while more complex solutions cost up to $100,000 and more. Contact Integrio for more accurate calculations.

To find the right outsourcing team, start by researching reputable software companies with experience in healthcare app development. Look for teams with a proven track record of delivering successful medical projects, relevant expertise in regulatory compliance, and a strong understanding of healthcare industry standards.


How to Develop a Medical App for Canadian Healthcare BusinessesWhat Is a Medical App?What’s the Difference between Medical and Health Apps?Types of Medical AppsWhat to Consider Before Developing a Medical AppRegulatory Requirements for Medical Apps in CanadaThe Mandatory Medical App FeaturesMedical Application Development StepsDevelopment and Non-Development Challenges that Need to Be ConsideredImprove Healthcare Outcomes with IntegrioFAQ

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