The current smartphone age began back in 2007 when Apple launched the iPhone and changed the way in which consumers perceived the possibilities that should be available to them via their mobile handsets. Of course it could be claimed that the creation of the App Store digital download service in mid-2008 was what really turned people on to the idea of using their smartphone for more than just making calls and sending texts.
By opening up the platform to third party developers and presenting software firms with a huge, diverse, global audience it was possible for innovative, practical and fun content to be generated simultaneously. This means that while school kids use smartphones for gaming and socialising, medical professionals are leveraging the technology in the workplace each and every day to make many common tasks easier to achieve than ever before.
There have been varying surveys published concerning the usage of smartphones by medical professionals. In 2010 the Spyglass Consulting Group published a study which implied 94 per cent of physicians have taken advantage of smartphones. However, this included using them for simple communication as well as viewing medical information or managing their business and personal lives, which may be a little broad of a definition from which it is possible to draw any definitive conclusions.
A separate report from Jackson & Corker published in 2011 shows that 80 per cent of doctors take advantage of medical smartphone apps on a day to day basis in their practices. This gives a far firmer indication that medical professionals are getting used to harnessing smartphones on a regular basis, allowing them to better interact with patients and deal with the business of helping to heal people.
Unsurprisingly it is the younger generation of physicians who are taking up smartphones in the greatest numbers, with recent graduates more likely to use digital technology during their working hours than those who are coming to the end of their careers. A breakdown of the figures in this report shows that physicians working in emergency rooms are the most frequent smartphone users while clinical pathologists reside at the other end of the scale, rarely using their mobiles.
It is clear that as the next wave of medical professionals enters the job market there will be a far larger proportion of doctors taking advantage of smartphone functionality when practicing health care. This means that any company which is in the business of supplying medical information or services will need to prepare for this sea change.
Medical website development for desktop platforms is quite different from the kind of process a medical website designer will need to go through when creating a smartphone-friendly service. A medical website design needs to take into account the fact that while a desktop user will have a large display combined with a keyboard and a mouse for interaction with the content, a mobile user will not have any of these things.
Modern smartphones can have an array of different interfaces, but in general you will be best placed to create your medical website design so that it is accessible to all users. You should focus your medical website designer on building something that those with touch screen handsets can access without impediment. This is why your medical website designer will need to eschew links embedded in text which can be fiddly to access precisely with fingers in favour of larger buttons and menu items that lend themselves to touchscreen interactivity.
The actual size of the mobile screen also needs to be taken into account. Dense, text-heavy pages with small fonts and broad margins will leave users scrolling, zooming and flicking all over the place and make for an unsatisfying experience when viewed through a mobile browser. This is why medical website development has to allow for a flexible, elastic design that can be resized to fit screens ranging from 2.4 inches to 4.3 inches and beyond. In fact with the emergence of the tablet market in the last year you will also need to consider the number of doctors who may well be viewing your site from an iPad or Android 3.0 device, which presents a whole new slew of challenges and opportunities.
One thing which many companies forget when fashioning their medical website design for mobiles is that while there are obvious limitations to scaling it down for the platform, the depth of the content and the comprehensiveness of the features cannot be similarly curtailed. Users will feel let down if they cannot go onto your mobile site and carry out exactly the same functions as they would expect on their laptop or desktop computer. This means it is not sensible for a medical website designer to truncate the amount of data available or cut out key components of your main site because you do not feel it will fit appropriately onto a mobile platform. There are always different routes around potential obstructions and with expert advice you can help sidestep any issues as and when they arise.
The real goal for any medical website development process is to provide consistency and compatibility across all platforms. There is no use creating a mobile site if it is completely detached from your main desktop portal, no matter how solid its functionality. On the flip side if you have a fully integrated mobile site that combines all the aspect of your desktop storefront but presents it in a sloppy manner or one which is overly convoluted and thus complicated for doctors to get to grips with you will be making life hard for yourself and for your users.
The real thrust of this piece is that mobile considerations have to be given priority when embarking upon medical website development in the modern era. Since the smartphone and now the tablet are reigning supreme and could soon become the main method by which people access the internet, desktop sites will begin to play second fiddle to mobile platforms. This means making the investments and changes to your medical website design now will leave you in a great position to continue prospering in an increasingly portable world.