Building an Intuitive Mobile App for Oncologists: Balancing Compliance and Usability
Matthew Struck

Software shouldn’t make your life harder

Oncologists face a significant time crunch, often juggling multiple patients, dealing with complex treatment plans, and neverending interruptions. EMRs are a quagmire of tabs, unsearchable reports, confounding navigation menus, and overstuffed screens that try to do everything at once without doing anything particularly well. Email can be a black hole of tasks, newsletters, and organizational updates. Despite constant efforts to keep everything organized, oncologists have all experienced “getting lost in the inbox” and wrestling with their EMR to accomplish seemingly simple tasks. While the software they use in their personal lives has clean interfaces and is easy to use, the software doctors use professionally is maddeningly bloated, outdated, and clunky – optimized for billing or to pass an IT procurement cycle, not to meet the daily needs of practicing doctors. 67% of oncologists say EHR responsibilities caused moderate to excessive stress in their professional lives [1]  and conversations with Primum oncologists confirm that their lives became harder after IT was introduced to make healthcare better.

Mobile apps as an answer

In recent years, mobile devices have emerged as indispensable tools for clinicians, particularly in the field of oncology. Mobile solutions can streamline workflows and provide access to critical information on the go while avoiding "getting lost in the inbox" or stuck in the EMR.

Mobile apps offer several benefits over traditional desktop or web-based applications. They can provide easy access to real-time information, allowing clinicians to make informed decisions quickly. They can also improve communication and collaboration between healthcare providers, allowing different care team members to share information and coordinate care more efficiently. Mobile apps are also often designed with a focus on fewer key tasks, which allows those tasks to be accomplished efficiently in the app.

Mobile apps are simply more convenient for most clinicians. With the ubiquity of mobile devices today, healthcare professionals increasingly expect great mobile experiences despite their dismal experiences with EMR systems.

Designing for Clinicians

At Primum, we are committed to developing a mobile application that connects general oncologists and oncology sub-specialists. With this in mind, we have set out to design Primum explicitly for oncologists. We strive to develop the right mobile app to improve their workflows, boost productivity, and enhance patient care.

Our approach starts with uncovering what oncologists need. We've interacted with more than a hundred oncologists, observing their workflows, and identifying the issues that often slow them down or get in their way. We're focused on understanding the distinct tasks they prefer to accomplish via mobile rather than on a desktop. By grasping the specifics of their work and their needs, we are building an app tailored to efficiently provide value when they want to increase confidence in their treatment approach.

Data Security and Privacy

In the healthcare sector, privacy and data security are of paramount importance. We understand that our app must comply with regulations such as HIPAA in the US and GDPR in Europe. Our team of expert developers and advisors work closely with legal and security experts to ensure our app provides the highest levels of data protection, including secure communication channels and encrypted data storage.

Accessibility and Usability

Understanding how doctors interact with their devices is key to building a successful mobile application. This requires a shift from conventional keyboard-and-mouse oriented designs to an interface that is optimized for touch. We are ensuring that our app’s navigation and features are intuitive, reducing the learning curve and frustration that often comes with new software.

The app we are developing features a clean, uncluttered design emphasizing ease of use. We are avoiding the trap of trying to do everything. Instead, we are focusing on doing a few key things exceptionally well. Key functions will be front and center, reducing the need for extensive searching and scrolling.


The world of healthcare technology is ripe for disruption, particularly in the field of oncology. We believe that our mobile app will significantly improve how general oncologists and sub-specialist oncologists interact and consult on patient cases. Through user-centered design, robust security measures, and an emphasis on usability and accessibility, we are confident in our ability to make a positive difference in the day-to-day lives of oncologists.

In this blog series, we'll keep you updated on our journey of building our first mobile app for oncologists. We will explore how specific design decisions have been informed by involving oncologists in our development process through countless hours of conversations and actual usage data from our web app over the past year. We will discuss how we’re navigating privacy, security, and practice of medicine considerations while delivering an intuitive and informative experience for physicians. Through it all, we’ll discuss how every decision is informed by our “North Star”: to deliver something valuable within 60 seconds of coming to Primum. We are always looking for beta testers and feedback from practicing oncologists, so if you’d like to be involved, email me at 

Stay tuned for more insights, learnings, and updates from the trenches of healthcare app development!


[1] Gajra A, Bapat B, Jeune-Smith Y, Nabhan C, Klink AJ, Liassou D, Mehta S, Feinberg B. Frequency and Causes of Burnout in US Community Oncologists in the Era of Electronic Health Records. JCO Oncol Pract. 2020 Apr;16(4):e357-e365. doi: 10.1200/JOP.19.00542. PMID: 32275848.

Matthew Struck

Matthew is Primum's Head of Product.