Programming Language Choice for Healthcare Solutions

The lack of physical freedom during the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an impressive app-usage boom in a wide variety of sectors, helping us fill the human connection void we were all craving for. Our social and working lives – but more prominently our health – became software-dependant.

The healthcare app market is currently registering a huge demand for:

  • mHealth apps
  • Telehealth and health IT systems
  • Wearables and fitness trackers
  • Software for medical devices

The programming language is the backbone of any type of software. There are a plethora of available programming languages. However, there are many crucial aspects that healthcare app developers need to take into account before making a choice. Here are some examples:

  • App type (e.g. mobile, wearable, website, etc.)
  • Supported device or platform (e.g. iOS, Android, Windows, etc.)
  • Security features to ensure HIPAA compliance
  • Maintainability to ensure long-term sustainability
  • Complexity of the app
  • The desired app features

When it comes to developing healthcare apps, there are no particular best programming languages. The developer’s choice depends – among many other factors – on the above-mentioned aspects too.

Here are the most used programming languages for healthcare apps:


This popular and multi-purpose programming language has been extensively used in healthcare IT. A few examples would include Elinext’s  Medical Practice And Billing Software or Healthcare Data Anonymization Platform.

  • Stable and economical to maintain
  • Slow performance
  • Platform Independent (i.e. runs on any system that supports JVM)
  • Poor GUI
  • Cross-platform development capabilities
  • Verbose and complex syntaxes
  • Easy to learn, code, and debug
  • No backup
  • Built-in security features (e.g. security manager, sandboxing, etc.)
  • Broad user community
  • Wide range of APIs



Kotlin is a relatively new – yet promising – Android programming language that comes with a series of advantages and disadvantages.

  • Open-source
  • Limited learning resources
  • Can work either natively or with JAVA
  • Enhanced reliability
  • Fully Java-interoperable
  • Improved error messages system that simplifies finding and fixing bugs
  • Intuitive and succinct syntax
  • Clear and compact codebase that ensures stability and consistency
  • Easy to maintain
  • Enhanced reliability
  • Improved error messages system that simplifies finding and fixing bugs



Designed to interact with databases, SQL allows healthcare professionals to build clinical databases, patient tracking, create charts to analyse data, create custom reports for patients, etc.

  • Fast query processing
  • Some versions are expensive
  • Easy to learn
  • Complex interface
  • Requires minimum coding and writing skills
  • Users don’t have full control over databases
  • Portable
  • Constantly under threat due to the sensitive data it holds
  • Highly interactive



Thought out to manage information in relational databases, MySQL allows healthcare organizations to build complex systems such as patient portals, EHR systems, pharmacy databases, etc. The Senior Caregiving Platform developed by Elinext is a relevant example.

  • Enhanced security and reliability
  • Doesn’t support SQL check constraints
  • Open-source
  • Poor debugging tool


  • Portability
  • Development is not community-driven


  • Compatible with most operating systems
  • Certain stability issues
  • Easy to manage
  • Robust transactional support


A fast-growing and versatile programming language, Python is currently widely used in healthcare to create ML algorithms used in drug discovery, genomic studies, medical image diagnostics (e.g. the Pneumonia Diagnosis Tool developed by Elinext), predictive analytics, etc.

  • Enhanced security (HIPAA compliance)
Speed limitations
  • Open-source
  • Automation
  • Requires extra effort for Android and iOS usage
  • Readable and easy syntax
  • High memory usage
  • Scalable when dealing with huge amounts of data
  • Extensive community support
  • Plethora of available libraries and frameworks
  • Code reusability
  • Interoperability and versatility
  • Ideal for prototypes


HTML is specifically used for building websites. Healthcare organizations use websites for online appointments, promote their medical teams and services, inform patients, etc.

  • Simple to learn
  • Requires extensive code
  • Browser-friendly
  • Restricted security
  • Open-source
  • Static language
  • Straightforward structure
  • Limited security features
  • Lightweight and fast to load
  • Errors tend to be costly
  • Platform-independent
  • Each page has to be programmed separately
  • Huge community support


Designed for statistical computing, R provides new ways to manipulate, read, and visualize data. For instance, it is the ideal choice for designing, monitoring, and analysing clinical trials.

  • Multiple built-in statistical functions
  • Slow speed
  • Straightforward syntax
  • Poor memory management
  • Good graphing facilities
  • Poor security measures
  • Massive community support
  • Cross-platform support
  • It can perform web scraping, data wrangling, and data cleansing
  • Can be used in ML
  • Compatible with various programming languages


Ideal for healthcare organizations that use old operating systems such as LINUX or UNIX, C is a general-purpose programming language. As a practical example, we can highlight Elinext’s Day Nurseries And Care Homes apps.

  • Serves as a building base for other languages such as C++, Java, etc.
  • Complex code checking
  • Easy to learn
  • Lack of exception handling
  • Numerous built-in functions
  • No code-reuse
  • Portable
  • Prone to memory corruption that affects data security
  • Dynamic memory allocation
  • No OOP concepts
  • Uses procedural programming
  • Requires manual high-level constructs
  • Able to extend itself
  • Low level of abstraction


C++ is found in multiple medical apps that can range from imaging systems (e.g. Elinext’s Body Tan Scan) to EHR systems, lab testing equipment, or patient information systems.

  • Scalable
  • Uses memory-consuming pointers
  • Can be treated both as a low-level language and a high-level language
  • Security issues due to features such as pointers or friend functions
  • Compatible with C
  • No garbage collector
  • Full control over memory management
  • Very complex to learn
  • Portable
  • Does not support built-in threads
  • Multi-paradigm
  • Very strict syntax
  • Large community support
  • Useful for a wide array of apps



Another young general-purpose programming language, Swift is revolutionizing the healthcare sector by delivering multiple security layers, improved data encryption, simplifying coding, and acquiring a central role in new technologies such as wearables.

  • Open-source
  • Limited number of experts to hire
  • Improves readability and prevents errors
  • Poor interoperability with IDEs and third-party tools
  • Interoperability with Objective-C
  • Compatibility issues
  • Cross-device support
  • Easy to maintain
  • Enhanced safety and performance
  • Dynamic community support

Taking into consideration all the above-mentioned crucial aspects and comparing the PROs and CONs of various programming languages will help you make a sensible decision.

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