mHealth at Work

Patient Cloud AppConnect Blog

How to Build an App for Patients

by Keaton Watts, mHealth business analyst
Published April 25, 2016


Participating in a trial can be a burden and interfere with patients’ daily lives, especially as trials grow more complex. On day one at Medidata, I paired up with a UX/mobile software engineer to create an app that would lessen the burden and allow patients to hold on to their personal health data after the trial ends.

We needed a software development kit (SDK) such as AppConnect that provides regulatory-compliant back-end data storage – a must for clinical research – and full control of front-end design for fantastic UX, as well as a third-party tool to store and maintain a personal record of health data collected over the course of the trial.

Building out the UX

Get to know your users

Our UX process included a variety of steps, like creating personas, interviewing patients and analyzing use cases to understand how patients would interact with our application in their day-to-day lives.

Identify the minimal viable product

We determined that patients would use our app to do three main things: complete daily surveys, capture adverse events and leverage their phone’s built-in camera to capture medication information.

Let the camera do the work!

Smartphone/tablet camera capture of medication data was central to our UX strategy. It eliminates one of the most tedious tasks for patients: keeping a manual log of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs – like cough syrup or advil – taken during the course of a trial.

The camera made this simple. With our app, patients scan the drug barcode using their camera, and information about the medicine, including the name and dosage, automatically populates the text fields in the app’s medications log.

The Developer Takeaway

Before working with AppConnect, you can get a good understanding of how it works by downloading the sample applications – iOS AppConnect Sample App and Android AppConnect Sample App. Code examples have been provided, and API documentation provides more insight into how specific parts work.

The Business Takeaway

It is important to be conscientious when detailing feature requirements. Be sure you understand the business case behind each feature and why it’s important to have it in the product. Outline each feature’s acceptance criteria: that is, the conditions the feature must satisfy to be accepted by a user and to ensure it is functioning as expected.

Have fun poking around on the site, and reach out to our team if you’ve got questions or an app idea. Get in touch with us at