As the application of information technology keeps growing in the healthcare industry, so does its variety of implementation. More and more healthcare web apps with different programming languages are created every new day. In fact, many of these apps have seen extreme success and usefulness with patients and even medical staff.
The entire web development process is based on technology stacks (also called tech stacks) that ensure a system runs efficiently and quickly. However, when there are plenty of options and you lack knowledge choosing the right tech stack becomes a nightmare.
Thankfully, we are here to help you! By the end of this article, you will have the basic knowledge to make more cohesive decisions about the technology behind your healthcare app.
What is a technology stack?
Technology stacks are sets of technologies that are stacked together to build a web application. They are also more commonly known as technology infrastructure, solutions stack or net stack. Tech stack selection is of vital importance when creating an app that is easy to maintain and is scalable.
Modern tech stacks are made of many more parts, thanks to the bigger volumes of data that need to be processed and the number of devices users can use to access the web servers.
Software developers may need to include programming tools for performance monitoring, business intelligence, event processing, cloud hosting solutions, analytics and containerization. That is why your chosen tech stack has to be picked based on the right technology for your particular application.
What is an example of a tech stack?
The MEAN stack is one the more popular tech stacks in web app development. It stands for MongoDB-Express-Angular-Node.js. You can also use React instead of Angular to get the MERN stack as it is also growing in popularity with web application development and single page apps.
Node.js is the runtime for the web application. Angular is the application programming interface. Express is a part of the web frameworks built on Node.js and MongoDB is the data platform that transforms the data in a more usable form.
One of the other popular ones is LAMP - Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP. What these examples make clear is that a stack can be both frontend and backend or a combination of both, which is called a full stack.
What are tech stack components?
During the web development process of a healthcare app a big thing to consider is the interface that your patients will be using to interact with the system you provide them.
For this to happen efficiently and without problem, the interface has to be simple and clear so that your patients have no issues with accessing it and using it the way they have to.
Software development can be a challenging process and having frameworks greatly assists in that matter. Frameworks offer structure to any application and share a variety of common functionalities and utilities so that every piece of code logic doesn't have to be written from nothing.
Examples are Express, Spring, Django, Laravel, Rails, and .NET and java framework.
Databases are a fundamental part of the right tech stack. There is always a need to store all your information regardless of whether your application is simpler or a more complex project. Some of the more known databases are MySQL and MongoDB.
The MongoDB database additionally enables developers to create more dynamic websites by providing intelligent querying, transformation features and aggregation.
Web servers are the chain link that connect the users to the databases. They take in requests through the user interface or even browsers and send the requests to the databases where they are handled.
If the requests are approved servers work back the information and get it back to the user. Objective c and Swift are examples of server side programming languages commonly used. And one of the options for a server is the microsoft sql server.
Benefits of choosing the right technology stack
We have already explained how web development is extremely difficult without choosing the best tech stack. And now we have to explain what the advantages of using tech stacks in healthcare applications are.
First of all, healthcare web apps usually have a big user base to start with and that gets larger and larger with time. Choosing the right frameworks and databases from the start can be the solution for many development challenges to come.
One such difficulty would be when the client side of things exponentially grows and the rapid development of the application is not possible. This could lead to crashes and issues for the patients themselves.
Furthermore, having different tech stacks to choose from means you can select the ideal one for the team you have or want to hire. Having a tech stack provides a structure to the development process and gives you strict lines to follow when hiring a team to develop your web pages.
It also allows for developers to communicate easier by knowing what kind of software tools and operating systems they are using.
Having the technology stack ahead of time means that you won’t have to waste any resources on technologies and operations you will not need. You will already have planned for the infrastructure, resources, hardware, automation and other requirements. This makes your projects cost effective and allows you to make better dynamic web apps.
How do you choose a tech stack?
There is no one best tech stack for every application. Different tech stacks are used for different things. The choice of a particular tech stack strongly depends on the nature of the app you want to make. But here are some key factors to consider for the selection.
Purpose of the application
A primary question to consider is what do you want your application to do. Will your app have to constantly communicate with other systems or databases? Will it have cascading style sheets as an interface or work with artificial intelligence? It can also be a web page that displays a lot of organized content.
If the app is single page, a technology like React can be a great choice. But if it has multiple technologies like mobile apps then you’ll need frameworks and databases that are more sophisticated and compatible with more than one operating system.
Time to production
Getting your application out of production as soon as possible is usually the desired outcome. Having tech stacks that have common functionalities and uses can be a great benefit. Having technologies with ready made solutions makes the job of developers a lot easier, because they can learn and test them faster.
Healthcare apps make the life of patients and medical practitioners a lot easier. But for them to be useful, they have to be used by many people. Good user interface and app design guarantees more traffic. Choosing the right technologies and functionalities is fundamental for the best user experience.
Choosing technologies that integrate poorly can be a great deficit to your development process and to the cost efficiency of the project. If you choose more specialized or advanced tech stacks, you will have to spend more on developer salaries and maintenance. Select the right technologies for your team and also for your ideas.
Scalability is a difficult factor to manage fully. In most cases the databases or the queries are the difficult part to scale and optimize. The modern MongoDB offers many scalability options, especially for data-intensive applications.
It is also beneficial to mention that a good framework design like Model-View-Controller allows the code to be written in a manner where it can be expanded in the future.
Having a web application that handles patient information and healthcare issues raises the question of security. You need to develop an app that protects that information. The best selection of a tech stack would be one that uses the best security practices and minimizes vulnerabilities in the software.
iOS app development
The best technology for healthcare app development is Swift. It allows programmers to build extensive applications with solid code standing behind them. It was created in 2014 by Apple and quickly pushed objective C, its main competition, out of the market.
A fundamental benefit of Swift is its simplicity. It is easy to read and write thanks to its understandable syntax. That is why developers pick it up relatively quickly when they are already familiar with another programming language.
Having a programming language that doesn’t unnecessarily burden your team means a far more effective workflow and more success in cross platform app development.
As we have mentioned, security is a big concern when dealing with healthcare applications. Thankfully Swift offers a decent amount of it because of its statically typed language. Programmers can find and fix errors easier than in a lot of other languages. Swift provides the needed high level of data security.
Putting out an application faster is crucial to its success. A big chunk of the time spent on development and maintenance is memory management. Swift provides developers with automatic memory management which means that your dev team won’t have to deal with this menial task that requires a lot of their time and attention.
Another benefit of Swift is that it is open-source since 2015, which means a bigger community of support and evolution. That is a valuable asset to have because of the wider variety of expertise you can have for your application.
As we have mentioned previously, if you select a very specific programming language with too advanced technologies, you have to spend more resources on the programming and developers themselves.
Android app development
The two main programming languages are Kotlin and Java. Kotlin was created as an analog of Java, but isn’t the more popular choice today. One of the only differences is that Kotlin is supported by android studio.
One of the main advantages of Java is how simple it is. It provides developers with clear syntax rules and semantics. The rationality and swiftness of the programming language are perfect for the processing of code by machines that have limited resources.
The security of the Java platform is top notch. As it is one of the leading programming languages, developers have done a great deal to ensure that its mechanisms and systems are extremely difficult to hack or bypass.
And having a reliable platform with robust code is a vital part of the process of developing any application, especially one that will safeguard medical information.
Something that Java is extraordinarily good at is its reliability. Having a compiler that can detect errors and issues at the stages before the code is even executed can save dev teams a lot of worries and troubles down the line. The way the language prevents memory failures and catches other problems is through its runtime control.
It is extremely important to have an executable environment to work on. The computer architecture isn’t of the highest significance as Bytecode can be easily interpreted on any machine. This is why Java offers independence from the hardware and operating system.
The final benefit of Java to be used in a back end tech stack is its net technology. The programming language provides developers with efficient networking features through which applications can easily find the objects in the network and access them.
Cross-platform app development
The more widespread programming languages for cross-platform app development are React Native, Xamarin and Flutter. Having to choose from one of these depends highly on the purpose of the healthcare application you wish to develop.
React Native is a very versatile programming language that allows developers to implement an application for different operating systems while still using the same code. It also offers easy to update functionalities.
Xamarin uses .Net technology to create iOS, Android and Windows applications. It is also open-source. Xamarin allows programmers to create a single code base for all platforms and provides access to the native app development APIs.
The main platforms it supports are Android, Windows, iOS, UWP and Tizen. The community is developing it for additional platforms like MacOS, WPF, GTK.
Flutter is the open-source framework for cross-platform app development made by Google. It is completely written in Dart. One of the reasons it is fast and efficient is because of its flexible and expressive interface.
The architecture of Flutter provides full customization and extensive rendering and design. Additionally it offers easy updates and new features based on user experience can be submitted quickly.
Third party integrations
There are already a lot of existing systems and software tools in any healthcare institution. That is why one of the main requirements of healthcare software is to support easy integration into those systems. Your app may need to work with medical documentation, electronic health records, patient portals, medical APIs, revenue cycles and management platforms.
Many of these parts of healthcare software are fundamental to providing patients with care. A lot of web pages are built to interact directly with mobile medical devices. The quality of third-party integration depends solely on the chosen tech stack for your telemedicine application.
The used technology has to offer compatibility to support a high and necessary level of security without bringing vulnerabilities to the system. That is precisely why the chosen tech stack has to meet all your business requirements and standards.
The selection of the right technology stack can be a difficult process. Having all the criteria and parameters you should consider, however, can be a great asset in the development of your project.
After you know what kind of project you wish to create it is important to also find the right partner for the job, especially when handling healthcare applications. That is why it is necessary to select an IT partner with years of experience not only in programming but also in healthcare.