It’s the era of all things tech, and medical companies are partnering with developers like never before. In 2021 alone, 90,000 new digital health apps were created.  Since the early days of Covid-19, digital health has continued to skyrocket and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Research has shown that many patients are now making many of their healthcare decisions based on their access to digital health resources.

If you’re a doctor or entrepreneur in the medical field who is considering a healthcare app of your own, this post is for you! We’ve complied a comprehensive list on how to build your own healthcare app.

Determine what kind of Medical App You Want to Build

There are hundreds of approaches that you can take when creating a software solution, so it is important to narrow down a specific focus and determine what the purpose of your app will be. Identify a pain point or problem to solve and write down how your software solution will resolve it. For example, if your medical office is looking to streamline its training process for new employees, an online platform that includes training modules, videos, and exams would be a software solution. During the planning phase, you will also need to consider the necessary features to include in your first version of the app. You can determine this by categorizing your “must have, “should have”, “nice to have” and “next version” features.

Web or Mobile? 

Once you have determined the problem and solution, you’ll need to decide if the app will be Web or Mobile based. This will be one of your biggest decisions and we strongly encourage you to talk to the experts about this. Our team determines web and mobile apps on a case by case basis. There is no “one size fits all” answer to this question! There are pros and cons to each option, so it will be important to consider these four questions:

What is the purpose of the app? What is the budget? Who is target audeince? Why will this specific software solution stand out?

We would love to talk you through this decision – feel free to schedule a call with us! In the meantime, read our blog on Web and Mobile Apps.

Cross or Native Platform?

The next step in the development process is to consider if the app will live on a cross or native platform. To summarize, “native development is the process of building apps for a specific operating system like Android and iOS. Each system has a specific design language, integrated development environment, and guidelines…cross-platform development involves the usage of a single code base across platforms. The codebase is combined with OS runtime environments for execution. So, these environments interpret the app’s code at runtime and execute it.” Similar to the Web vs. Mobile discussion, there is not a single correct answer. Many factors determine this decision such as your budget, timeline, and goals for the app. It is recommended that you talk to experienced developers who can walk you through the differences and benefits of each option before you hand off your app to development. Read more about cross and native platforms here.

Design the App

Here’s where the development really comes to life! Wireframes display the UI (User Interface) or design of the software. There are two types of wireframes – low and high fidelity.


 Low fidelity wireframes include basic and static content to visualize layout of the interface. These wireframes are built with publishing software, such as the Microsoft Office suite. “Low-fidelity wireframes usually serve as a checkpoint for the product team and stakeholders at the beginning of the design process. They help teams visualize and test early concepts, requirements and design assumptions at the beginning of a web design project.”

High fidelity wireframes are extensive prototypes that include color, content, and interactive buttons. They offer a finalized view of the app. Though they are more expensive than low fidelity wireframes, they provide an accurate depiction of the product and allow stakeholders to see the style of the app and interact with the interface.

Development and Launch

Your healthcare app is ready for development, testing, and launch! The developers have all of the information they need to build the healthcare app. Keep in mind that medical apps require HIPAA compliance guidelines throughout the development process. We recommend that you reserve 10% of the project budget for HIPAA compliance protocols.

It’s important for you and any key decision makers to meet frequently with the development team to communicate any changes that need to be made throughout the process. You should feel empowered to be a part of the development, even if you don’t understand the “tech talk”. We always say that a sign of a good development team is if they can take complicated concepts and communicate them in a way that anyone can understand.

After development, it’s time to test the app and get it LIVE! Our team at Oak City always encourages our clients to spend a good amount of time using the app, asking questions, and making sure that each feature displays the desired behavior.


We understand that developing a healthcare app is a long and complex process – but it is worth every step. We believe that technology exists to make day-to-day tasks simpler. With healthcare apps, the potential to improve lives is unfathomable.

Are you ready to build your own healthcare app? Schedule a call with our team to get started!

Web Portal Development for Educational Institution

By: Carol Vercellino, CEO & Co-Founder

You’ve now learned that an End-User Needs Assessment is the process of evaluating the needs of the people who will be using your software or app.

An end-user needs assessment typically has three phases: the preparation phase, the investigation phase, and the decision phase.

In this video, we’re going to show you how to conduct the investigation phase.

What is the investigation phase?

In the investigation phase, you’re working to wrap your head around your present situation. For example, what is your existing system or process? And how does it work? Then, you want to identify alternatives to that existing system.

If you don’t have an existing system, consider what else exists on the market or what your competitor uses.

As you dive into the investigation phase, make sure you understand how your system works – at least well enough to explain its function to your project team. We recommend listing out all of your system’s (or competitor’s systems) features and functions so your team can easily identify deficiencies or opportunities for your new system.

Also, problems – like going over budget or having to delay the launch – arise when companies assume they know what their users like or dislike about their product, only to discover later that they missed the mark and have to go back to the drawing board to fix it. So, it’s vital to engage your end users and stakeholders in the investigation phase to nail down exactly what it is your users want from the start.

How to conduct the investigation phase with your team

Here are some questions you and your team should ask to evaluate your present system:

  • What features of the existing system do your users like?
  • What features do your users not like?
  • What features do your users think are missing or wrong?
  • How can the existing system be improved?

List out every possibility – big or small. You can decide later, in the decision phase, what features are feasible to develop.


Once you’ve completed the investigation phase, you can move on to the decision phase where you’ll flush out the new proposed system and how you’ll build it. 

Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter to learn more in Part IV of our End-User Assessment video series.

Don’t have a tech idea yet? Find the sweet spot between what you know and what the world needs by downloading our free retooled SWOT framework. Get it here.

Web Portal Development for Educational Institution

By: Carol Vercellino, CEO & Co-Founder

In our last video, you learned that an End-User Needs Assessment is the process of evaluating the needs of the people who will be using your software or app.

An end-user needs assessment typically has three phases: the preparation phase, the investigation phase, and the decision phase.

In this video, we’re going to show you how to conduct the preparation phase.


Step 1: Choose your stakeholders

In the preparation phase, your goal is to choose your stakeholders, understand your customer’s problems, identify the decision criteria, and gather the information needed for your project.

So, to begin, who are your stakeholders?

Your stakeholders are the people who will be impacted by your product. Who might stand to gain or lose from your product’s success or failure? Who could you engage that might have a unique perspective on the problem your product solves and the potential solutions?

Of course, your end-users fall under this category. But, while all end users could be stakeholders, all stakeholders aren’t end-users. Here are a few examples of potential stakeholders:

  • People funding the product development
  • Business managers and architects
  • Data architects and database administrators
  • Your development team
  • The product owner
  • The project manager
  • Account and sales manager
  • Your direct and indirect users

Once you’ve established who your stakeholders are, you can then move on to identifying your customer’s problems.

Step 2: Understand your customer’s problems

Gather your stakeholders together and list on a whiteboard all the potential problems your end-user might have in relation to your product. 

Consider solutions that are not as obvious. Are there technical problems? Organizational problems? Problems you can uncover by observing the end-user in their environment?

You can conduct market research, send out surveys, create customer personas, and gather customer feedback to identify those pain points.

Of course, it’s not always possible to solve every problem your end-user has, especially in the first iteration of your product. So, after you’ve made your list, you’ll want to identify your decision criteria to narrow that list down when it comes to product development.

Step 3: Identify the decision criteria

Your decision criteria are the factors that will impact your final decisions. For example, are there budget limitations? Time constraints? Current technology that needs to be updated or developed first? Or systems or personnel that may be impacted?

Make a list of all these factors so you can decide what problems your product will specialize in solving and which features will be developed first. 

Step 4: Gather all necessary information

The final step in phase 1, the preparation phase, is to gather all the information you need for your project. This information might include, but not be limited to:

  • List of stakeholders
  • List of problems/pain points
  • Market research & strategy
  • Surveys or questionnaires completed by end-users
  • Competitor analysis
  • Vision document
  • Value Proposition
  • Business model canvas
  • Features list


Now that you’ve completed the preparation phase, you can move on to the investigation phase where you’ll begin to wrap your head around your present situation. For example, what is your existing system or process? And how does it work? You’ll then identify alternatives to that existing system.


Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter to learn more in Part III of our End-User Assessment video series.

Don’t have a tech idea yet? Find the sweet spot between what you know and what the world needs by downloading our free retooled SWOT framework. Get it here.

Web Portal Development for Educational Institution

By: Carol Vercellino, CEO & Co-Founder

You probably know that many of the world’s most recognizable businesses, like Apple, OculusVR, and Under Armour, started as side hustles. 

One of the things we love about the health tech and biotech industry is that most of the founders we work with have a really impressive – and often demanding – main gig.

We’ve partnered with neurosurgeons, leading experts in swallowing disorders, and even a tech entrepreneur who studied under John B. Goodenough – the guy who invented the lithium-ion battery.

We’ve had the opportunity to work with incredible people and watch as they scale their passion projects into successful software businesses. So, if you’re looking for inspiration or motivation, watch our video to learn more about their projects or continue reading for a short summary of each.

THXRx, health and wellness app for physicians 

THX Rx, originally WellSpent MD,  is a health and wellness app for physicians. Founded by two neurosurgeons at the Department of Neurosurgery at Duke Health, the app provides positive news, a time-banking program, access to wellness resources, and wellness data collection to boost positivity in the workplace. 

We remember when we first started developing the app, it was originally going to only be used to track engagement within the Department of Neurosurgery at Duke Health. But, now, with the release of version 2.0, the app can compare pre-COVID-19 data with current data.

Vitalflo, remote respiratory monitoring

Vitalflo is a remote patient monitoring app that helps to prevent asthma attacks before they happen.

The company was founded by Luke Marshall, who studied under John B. Goodenough – the inventor of lithium-ion batteries. Marshall pulled the tech out of North Carolina State University to bring it to market. Our team has a lot of North Carolina State grads, so it was interesting to see that tech pulled out of NC State and get to help them at the beginning of this project. 

Florida Dysphagia Institute, resources and educational courses

The Florida Dysphagia Institute (FDI) is one of our favorite clients to work with. We always need to leave about 10-15 minutes at the end of the call for jokes.

Even though swallowing disorders are awful for the sufferers, there’s a small community of researchers who strive to ensure better treatment and evaluations.

FDI offers resources and educational courses that provide solutions for swallowing disorders. We help them with mobile and web development, which they use as a tool to further their mission.


For anyone who’s here looking to start a software side gig, check us out at Oak City Labs. You can even schedule a free consultation to run your idea by us, and we’ll let you know what we think.

**The above interview has been transcribed for clarity and brevity.**


Software or App Onboarding

By: Carol Vercellino, CEO & Co-Founder

“Almost everyone will make a good first impression, but only a few will make a good lasting impression.” – Sonya Parker

What type of impression are you making when your users download and open up your app? 

User onboarding is one of the most critical elements of your app or software development and launch. It determines whether users stay, go, or even become raving fans of your product.

So, today we’re going to talk about how to streamline the user onboarding experience for your software product or app. Let’s dive in.


Jay: First, tell us what user onboarding is and why it’s important.

Carol: Onboarding is an experience a user has when they first open up your app, especially if they’re new to it. There are two different camps here. If your app is really well done and well built, you don’t need onboarding. But, some apps require your users to have a little bit of guidance the first time they’re opening up your app.

A lot of it depends on what type of app you have. If you have a social app, you probably don’t want to have a very extensive onboarding process. You want to make the app super simple and easy to use.

But an app that’s more of a utility or an educational tool, you want to add an onboarding process, so people know what they can do in the app.


Jay: How do you create an onboarding strategy?

Carol: You sit down with your team and talk about the goals of the app, the purpose of the app, and what the value is you’re delivering to the user. Then, you map out the first thing the user sees when they open up the app. Where do you want them to go? What do you want them to do while they’re there?

You can whiteboard out the steps or even wire frame it out. You really want to look at that layout and what would be intuitive for the user to click, tap, or do next.


Jay: What are some user onboarding best practices or tips?

Carol: If you take a step back from onboarding, there are best practices around just the app itself. For example, when a user signs up for your app, what is that account flow like? Is it super simple? Or do you have a lot of different steps?

You know, if you ask for a credit card upfront, you’re probably going to lose some users right there – depending on the app and depending on the target market. So, you really want to be strategic about the number of screens you use that the user has to go through.

Also, there’s also the experience of getting help from your company. Is it easy for your users to get help? Do they have to call a 1-800 number, is there a chatbot on your website, do you have an FAQ area or help center where they can easily find information. 

If you decide not to have a walk through of your app, can your user easily google your app and find a help center to get the information they need to be successful in using your app?

Jay: So it’s all about reducing friction during that process?

Carol: Yes.


Jay: Could you share an example onboarding process with us?

Carol: Any app you download from the app store, you can kind of get a feel of how the apps work. Just download one and take a look at it. 

Some of the best apps you download, you go straight into the app. One example is the Facebook app. When you download it, you go straight to the news feed. In some apps, you only have to sign up with a phone number – you don’t have to put in a whole bunch of account information.

Another way to think about it is when was the last time you went to a doctor’s office, and you walked in, and they handed you an iPad? You filled out the forms, and it was really simple. When that process is simple, you think, ‘oh, I like this doctor’s office; it makes it easy to schedule appointments and update my records.’

You want to translate that experience into your app as well.

**The above interview has been transcribed for clarity and brevity.**

Want to learn more about streamlining your users’ experience? Check out our video on How to Get Your App Users to Stick Around After the Free Trial here.

How to Get Your App Users to Stick Around After the Free Trial

By: Carol Vercellino, CEO & Co-Founder

Free trials are a great way to show users why they should choose your app or software product over anything else.

But how do you ensure your users will renew their subscriptions once the free trial is up?

Today, I’m going to share three ways you can get your users to commit after their free trial has ended. 


Nail your onboarding process

How do you nail the onboarding process? There are three ways you can focus on this.

First, you want to create a help center on your website or have a small support team. You could even have part-time folks who can answer technical questions. Make it easy for your users to find you; for example, your support email should be

Second, send users a welcome email with all the information they need about their free trial and how to download the product to get started. You could even turn that process into a welcome cadence where you send them an email once every two days or every day for the first seven days.

Third, you also want to provide in-app native FAQs so your users can open the app, click Help, and quickly get the answers they need.

Empower your users

To get your app or product’s full benefits, your users need to know all the ins and outs. Empowering your customers with educational materials about your product can boost customer loyalty and reduce complaints.

So, first off, you want to offer your users hands-on experience with live demos. If you’re a startup, you want to do this person-to-person, for example, over Zoom, and ask your users how things are doing and if you can answer any questions.

Second, you can create and share useful content on your website, email, and social media. It can be simple how-to’s or tech tips to support your user in achieving their goals through your product.

You can also organize a virtual workshop or webinar. You can do those live or have them pre-recorded so your users can access them anytime via your website.

Make it easy for users to buy your app

This step often gets overlooked, but it’s the most important. Make it easy for your users to buy your app or software product once the trial is up.

Remind users their free trial is about to expire. You can send your users an email or maybe even call them if you’re a startup and have the team to do it. 

You can also provide an early discount if they buy before the expiration of the trial. For example, you can send them an email and say, ‘Hey, if you renew now (7 days before your trial is up), we’ll take 20% of the subscription!’

Also, send a final email that includes step-by-step how users can buy and activate the full version. Make the purchasing process really easy. Find the simplest checkout form that you can have them put their credit card information in (if you can, use Apple Pay). If the product is available in the app store, that makes it pretty easy too.


Your free trial phase is a great way to retain customers, build loyalty, and grow your business.

Make it easy for your free trial users to learn how to use your app or software to its fullest potential, and they’ll move right into the paying phase.

Now that you’ve got your users hooked, learn how to streamline your onboarding process, so your app users never want to leave. Read it here.

by Carol Vercellino, CEO of Oak City Labs

In today’s market, creating an outstanding product is just part of the battle. You also need a clear, compelling online presence. Even if your product is top notch, you will lose credibility quickly if your website is lacking.


In this article (and video) we’ll share the 5 non-negotiables you need online before your product launches.


You’ve built a game changing product – congratulations! But is your website ready for your launch? Do you have all of the information on your site, and is it written in a way that will drive sales?


Let’s discuss the essential elements to include on your website before it goes live. Here are the five elements your website needs.


First, the value proposition. Tell your potential customers what they will gain from doing business with you. Are you saving them time? Are you saving them money? What is it that you are doing for them? What pain are you solving?


Second, add a primary call to action. Do you want your potential customer to schedule a call today? Do you want them to download a document? What do you want them to do as their next step with you?


Third, have a customer testimonial or a case study. People really like to see what you’ve done for someone else in the past so that they can identify with your solution.


Fourth, have two to three bullet points that explain your product features and services – and keep it simple! One to two sentences, even less, is all you need there.


Finally, have a transitional call to action. That’s just a fancy way of saying have a lead magnet or a free trial or give them something – even a free video. Some type of other next step.


So, having an engaging only presence is non-negotiable in today’s market, especially for new products. Make sure your website is a solid sales tool that complements the work that you and your team are doing.


I’m Carol Vercellino, co-founder of Oak City Labs. Thanks for watching, and make sure you subscribe to our channel to catch more of our tech tip videos.

by Carol Vercellino, CEO of Oak City Labs

A product vision conveys the purpose of a product and what problem it will solve. A strong vision motivates and inspires developers, but a weak vision can result in misfires and multiple rounds of revisions. Simply put, the clearer the vision, the more efficiently developers can create software that hits the target.


In this article (and video) we’ll share best practices for effectively sharing your vision with a developer.

What is a product vision?

To start, you have to think about what are the key components of a product vision. They’re very much like what a value proposition would have – what problem are you trying to solve, who is it for, what’s the unique value proposition? What’s unique about this idea? What’s the market size, what do you see the product becoming in the future. It’s almost like a mini pitch stack that you would pitch to VCs. This really helps the developer not only understand what needs to be built but also who it’s being built for and why it’s so important for the market.


Making the pitch

So how do you pitch such a big, theoretical idea so that a developer can then transfer that into actions. Oftentimes when we work with clients we like to take the really big picture idea and start to break it down. So we’ll break it down into buckets, or larger ideas, and then we’ll break that down into smaller features. And then from there, the technical team can break it down even further into what we call stories, or technical items. That really just becomes the basic list of work that needs to be done or estimated so you understand how much it might cost.


What are common mistakes that clients make when sharing that vision? 

The most common mistakes that people make are not doing enough market research or not solving a problem that people will pay for. It’s rarely a technical challenge. I get asked a lot about whether something is technically feasible. Most things are, given enough time and money. But almost always, the mistake is on the market side. So we really try to dig into [understanding] what problem is someone solving and how much market research has been completed. As developers, we like to build products that will be used. So we often ask questions about the business model, market and strategy. That not only inspires us but it helps us understand what the product will become or what it might look like in the future. 


So developers really want to create technology that solves problems and exceeds expectations. The first step in that process is understanding the vision behind the product. A productive conversation about vision is absolutely essential.


I’m Carol Vercellino, co-founder of Oak City Labs. Thanks for watching, and make sure you subscribe to our channel to catch more of our tech tip videos.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at a STEM in the Park + NetApp event to bring about 100 middle school girls to view CODEGIRL. Both organizations are doing amazing work introducing young ladies to the STEM fields. What struck me most was the volunteerism, camaraderie and eagerness to learn among the kids. It also reminded me that there is so much opportunity out there, we just need to have our eyes open and teach our children the same. Today is a little different than our normal tech posts, but everyone needs a little inspiration and motivation now and then. Zig Ziglar said:

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

Russell Conwell, the founder of Temple University, once gave a well known speech titled Acres of Diamonds. The supposedly true story is about an African farmer named Ali Hafed who heard stories of fortune by other farmers. These farmers discovered diamonds on their land and became rich beyond their wildest imagination. Ali Hafed became discontented with his own life and desperately desired the same fortune. He eventually sold his farm and left his family to begin a quest for land that would lead him to riches. He searched through many lands far and wide. Eventually as an old man he became depressed and despondent. He threw himself into a great tidal wave to his death, never to be seen again.

The successor of his land, another farmer, one day strolled along a creek that ran through the property. He noticed a blue flash from the creek bed, knelt down and sifted through the water until he pulled a crystal object from the mud of the creek. He wiped it off, took it home and left it on his mantel above the fireplace, where he quickly forgot about it.

Several weeks later, a visitor stopped by the farmer and noticing the crystal on the mantle picked it up. Instantly he became excited, he was holding a diamond in his hand. The farmer protested at first and the visitor reassured him that it was indeed a diamond. That farm eventually became one of the largest diamond-mines in the world. Had Ali Hafed simply known how to identify and look for diamonds, he would have had the fortune he so desperately wanted.

We’re all standing among our own acres of diamonds. We need the skills and ability to recognize what a diamond looks like in its rough state. A close friend of mine likes to say “challenges beget opportunities”. Or rather, we need to see the challenges around us as diamonds ready to be cut and polished.

It’s easy to look at our community and see the shortcomings, lack of access to capital, users that won’t download a brand new app or timing that just isn’t right. It’s more difficult to look for diamonds in their rough state, recognize them as diamonds and turn them into something beautiful. Stephen Covey says it best:

“Look at the word responsibility—“response-ability”—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling.”

I believe we’re in an incredible time period to build companies, to solve problems with data and technology and to make things better. Never before has it been cheaper to build out infrastructure, access people through networking events and pull people together in a community. Our most fun projects have been led by business owners and founders that see a problem to tackle and have a singular mindset to take responsibility and do something about it. They all share a common trait – they have their eyes open to opportunities right in their own backyard.

If you’ve found your diamond, your challenge, your problem to solve – we’ll be here for you when you’re ready.

It’s just about that time of year again! Yes, the NCAA Basketball Tournament, aka March Madness, is upon us. The team that goes the furthest in the tournament usually has a stellar starting lineup of players that work together to win game after game – and eventually that coveted championship trophy. This is not unlike the team required to bring your mobile app idea to life. Today we’re breaking down the key players involved with creating a mobile app.

Your starting lineup:

Project Manager

If those involved in developing your mobile app project were an actual basketball team, the project manager would be the point guard. He or she has to have a clear vision of the project at all times and be focused on the big picture goals, while at the same time being intimately familiar with the smaller details of the project. A liaison between the internal development team and the client, the project manager toes the line between all parties to make sure the project stays on time, on budget and within scope.

Key strengths: organization, client communication, detail-oriented


Continuing with our team comparisons, next we have the strategist who could be fairly compared to the shooting guard. The strategist is the visionary of the project and can sometimes be the same person as the project manager. If the project manager is more logistically focused though, the strategist is strategically focused. He or she is responsible for ensuring that the client’s goals are met through the decisions made during the wireframing, design and development portions of the project. This person must be good at balancing the business needs of the client with the technical considerations of the development team.

Key strengths: strong development background knowledge, business/marketing strategy knowledge, decision-making skills


Designers or UX specialists often determine the difference between a good app and a great app. A pillar of the development team, the designer is similar to the power forward on a basketball team. He or she creates wireframes and/or visual designs, as well as decides on the screenflow and user interface (UI). The designer often has a basic technical understanding and works well with the team’s developers to ensure the final product is just as visually appealing as it is technically functional.

Key strengths: creative, deep understanding of UX/UI, basic technical background knowledge

Software Engineers

On a basketball team, the small forward is a versatile player. Adept at handling the ball inside and outside, the small forward excels at offense and defense. Such is the software engineer on a mobile app development team. This role is responsible for bringing together the vision of the strategist, the creative direction from the designer and the technical requirements of the client into a working, functional app. Engineers develop the backend or server side portion of the app, and then the iOS and Android products. They fix bugs given to them following quality assurance (read more on that below) and deploy the app to the Google Play Store or Apple App Store when it’s time to launch.

Key strengths: technically minded, problem solvers, strong technical understanding

Quality Assurance

Just as the center spends the majority of his or her time close to the basket, the quality assurance position is also narrowly focused on doing one job really well. His or her goal is to test, test, test and then test some more. The quality assurance person finds bugs, checks for security holes, confirms the use cases are met, scrolls, taps, and swipes to his or her heart’s content. In short: he or she tries to break the app. The goal is to ensure the product is ready to ship to the client for testing and approval during the beta and release stages of the project.

Key strengths: detail-oriented, problem solvers, able to provide constructive criticism

So there you have it. Your starting lineup as you take on the task of bringing your mobile app idea to life! Sound like a team you’d like playing for you? We’d love to chat!