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Healthcare

Telehealth App Development Guide: Benefits, Technologies & Features To Watch Out

20 December 2020 • 17 min read
Telehealth App Development Guide: Benefits, Technologies & Features To Watch Out
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Slava Vaniukov
Written by Slava Vaniukov
Co-Founder and CEO at Softermii

Telehealth apps as totally new med-tech solutions employed in the administering of medical services to patients are changing steadily the way we get treatment and its quality.

The term is used to describe the operations behind technology-inspired health care services, and more specifically the technology that enables health care services that are not spatially bound.

In this article you will find our how to develop a telemedicine app, what features it has to have based on our experience building HIPPA-compliant apps like HIPPA video and MedRealtime.

Introduction to Telehealth Application Development

In accordance with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), telehealth definition is the usage of electronic information and telecommunications technologies in providing healthcare treatment, in medical education, clinical data management and medical system at all.

Telemedicine is, therefore, the total body of deliverables set to empower both patients and their doctors or healthcare providers. It has a lot of its applications as video medical consultations, remote monitoring, telehealth nursing, remote physical and psychiatry therapy. It benefits the totality of the healthcare industry and becomes its integral part.

Moreover, Ed Simcox, a CTO at the U.S. Department of HHS believes that in the not-too-distant future, telehealth will be such an integral part of the medical experience that there will be no difference between healthcare and telehealth.

The latest Global Market Insights report states that the global telemedicine market will expand from its present $38.3 billion to $130.5 billion valuations by 2025.

But why do applications of telehealth technologies is so beneficial for medicine and where it is worth to be implemented?

It enables better patient care decisions, improves medical services quality and efficiency, saves time in making a diagnosis, saves costs as for doctors through optimization of their clinical work as for patients cutting the expenses spent on the trip to hospitals.

More and more patients and doctors understand the importance of using new video medicine solutions and are switching to them instead of using old methods in medical treatment.

 

how to make a telemedicine app

 

Comparing with 2014 when only 54% of surveyors answered “Yes” on the same questions. So, these numbers are strong indicators of the rapid adoption of telemedicine software.

Telehealth represents the next frontier in medical care. Its growth is not a surprise as it has a lot of advantages for providers as much as it does for patients.

Therefore, as for any healthcare providers the primary need is to provide better patient treatment, with telemedicine solutions they are able to do while helping doctors to optimize and expand their medical practice at the same time. Hence, it’s essential to develop medical video conferencing solutions in any kind of medical organization to make better medicine. Let’s discover what benefits it gives for healthcare providers.

 

Benefits Of Telehealth in Medicine

There are countless benefits that telemedicine serves as the totality of the healthcare market. Some of its advantages will include the following:

  • Making Healthcare More Accessibility

    The healthcare industry is plagued by a well-known challenge that is the distance barrier. This is due to the severity of the widespread unavailability of professional healthcare givers around the world.

    People have to travel thousands of miles across the country or continents just to get quality healthcare service. The several apps that have been developed for needs within the ambit of health have ensured that this barrier is put to check. For example, our team has developed one of the great telemedicine app development solutions that is  MedRealTime application. It makes much easy to get the video medical consultation in the shortest term with any specialist across all the USA. Telehealth is making health more accessible, and in the process, increasing the relevance of healthcare. Besides, having the possibility to get instant doctor consultation from your home, it's definitely one of the most substantial benefits of telemedicine for patients

    telehealth development solutions

  • Enhancing The Efficiency Of Healthcare & Making Medicines More Personalized And Precise 

    Telemedicine has improved the availability of quality healthcare services. Patients now have access to more personalized healthcare treatments. They can reach the best of medical practitioners just via a video app, appointments can be made from miles away, professionals have better-suited platforms to network, data management and leverage on the distinct expertise of each other. All these new technologies increase the efficiency of medicine, help doctors to save time on rural tasks and to provide better treatment for patients.

  • Cutting Cost On Medical Services

    Telehealth is a cost-savvy solution as compared to the traditional methods of administering healthcare. This is true as doctors and patients have no need to go each time to see their doctor or patients. Besides video consultation usually costs less than usual while saving costs spent on the trip to the hospital.  Moreover, having online booking along with video-conferencing available in your healthcare solution saves your money spent on the receptionist, Hence, telehealth is the manifestation of the fact that 'better doesn't always come with more cost'.

  • Increasing The Frontiers Of Healthcare

    Another thing telemedicine is doing is, it is increasing the frontiers of the medical industry. Studies, research, and development in this field are now made easier to run. The education and training for medical students are even now more practical and vivid with help to conduct video-conferencing streamlines. This is all thanks to technology in medicine.

 

Opportunities You Can Benefit From

Flexibility And Lower Service Costs

With telemedicine, businesses will no longer be restricted to a single location as all visits will take place online. This can be especially beneficial in rural areas where patients may find it difficult to travel to a hospital for medical treatment.

Telemedicine also allows private healthcare specialists to work independently and can improve a patient’s experience. Patients will no longer have to wait in long lines and with electronic data, doctors will be able to obtain medical records more easily and quickly, reducing overall wait times. Additionally, online visits enable doctors to spend less time per patient, allowing them to serve a greater number of people. The more patients that a clinic sees, the more revenue it will earn.

Finally, modern software solutions allow clinics to create hospital-like applications with EHR integrations, seamless connectivity, and third-party integrations.

Accessibility For Patients

Telehealth will significantly reduce the time required for consultations. Patients will no longer need to spend hours travelling to or waiting in a hospital; instead, they can simply schedule an appointment online and then connect to their meeting through the app.

Additionally, healthcare will become more accessible than ever. Those who are unable to visit a hospital for whatever reason will be able to consult a physician from the comforts of their own homes. It can also assist those in need of immediate medical assistance.

Efficient Staff Management And Time Optimization

Time management is crucial for healthcare service providers. With modern telehealth applications, doctors will be able to access their schedules simply through their smartphones. They can be notified when an appointment is approaching, cancelled, or rescheduled.

In addition, hospitals could integrate their internal systems with Customer Relationship Management (CRM). A CRM would allow management to access a doctor’s workload, scheduled shifts, and performance. Each patient may also leave a review, which can improve the doctor’s quality of services

Seamless EHR Integration

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Organizing EHRs in a way that doctors can access on demand requires an internal database with built-in queries. Various application programming interfaces (APIs) and equipment can also enable quick and easy access.

At the same time, an EHR will need to have a strict security system in place to avoid the risk of personal records being leaked. This can typically be accomplished through on-premises or cloud integration.

Security Regulations And Laws

All telemedicine software must comply with security regulations and local laws. As a result, healthcare facilities cannot use Skype or Zoom because they violate HIPAA regulations and risk exposing patient data. These regulations establish a standardized set of practices that are safe, controlled, and documented within and between insured entities

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  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  • Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) - this is an agreement between 29 states, the District of Columbia, and the Territory of Guam that allows licensed physicians to practice medicine across states within the Compact if they meet certain agreed-upon eligibility requirements.
  • Prescribing regulations in the country and/or state where the software is used.
  • Telemedicine regulations in the country and/or state where the software is used.


What Is Usually Included In Telemedicine Software Development Cost?

Developing a telemedicine application necessitates the implementation of complicated logic between features.

Before answering how much it costs to implement telemedicine into your business, you should take into consideration that you should create a solution that benefits both patients and doctors. In addition, keep in mind that the interface for patients and doctors can be quite different, such as varying levels of access.


Telemedicine App Features For Patients

Registration

This is the most important feature of a telemedicine solution.

It must ensure data security, compliance with EHR integration standards, and support document uploading. Additionally, third-party integrations such as Facebook, mobile carriers, and email service providers should be considered.

It is crucial to include the security and data privacy agreements accessible on the initial screen.

Home Page

Patients should be able to access the home page after completing their registration. It should include basic features such as a search function, an appointment scheduler, a calendar, and a list of available records.

Personal Profile

Patients should be able to set up their personal preferences, location, and the ability to enable synchronization with existing hospital records.

This will allow patients to schedule personalized appointments and for doctors to gather critical information prior to the meeting. In addition, it enables AI algorithms to display relevant information on the home screen.

Search Engine

A search engine with complex filter algorithms will enable patients to choose several filters that can work simultaneously. These filters may include location, medical specializations, availability, and services.

To learn more about Softermii’s approach to filter development, please see the French Real Estate Association Case.

Video Calls

The key feature of any telemedicine solution is video conferencing.

To ensure that an appointment runs smoothly, the application must transmit data in a timely and high-quality manner. After all, the higher the quality, the better the consultation will be. Additionally, it will enable doctors to conduct a more thorough examination of a patient’s health and inspections for any anomalies.

We guarantee seamless and secure connectivity with our VidRTC engine, which is based on WebRTC technologies.

Text Messaging

Some issues are too minor to discuss through a video call.. Instead, they can be discussed through text messages. Through this mode of communication, patients will also be able to share pictures with their doctors.

Our solution for text exchanges is HIPAA-compliant, and we also offer Twilio integration.

Scheduling

Telemedicine solutions must include calendars for convenient planning. Patients should be able to see a doctor’s available time slots, their scheduled appointments, and the option to reschedule their appointments. Once the doctor approves the requested appointment, the patient should receive a notification of confirmation.

At Softermii, we offer third-party integrations such as Apple or Google Calendar to help patients track their appointments more conveniently.

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Built-In Payments

There are two methods for monetization.

You can either develop a custom payment platform or use a third-party payment gateway system such as Stripe, Paypal or Braintree. If you choose the second option, be sure to consider the fees charged by each provider. Although the average transaction fee is 2.9% per payment, depending on your TCO, you may find that custom software is less expensive to deploy.

Notifications

Along with calendar notifications, custom notifications can be used to remind users of crucial information, such as monthly or annual visits, prescription renewals, and doctor requests.

Built-in notifications can be enabled by using Firebase Cloud Messaging or One Signal notification platforms, which use special APIs that gather data from your servers and transfer it to end devices.

Ratings

Patients should have the ability to review their appointments. By collecting feedback, doctors can track their performances and make necessary adjustments. Additionally, it will allow patients to make more informed choices about their specialists.


Telemedicine App Features For Physicians

Throughout the day, physicians have to work with data and manage a large number of clients. As a result, this requires a slew of additional features and integrations that will not be available on the patient’s side.

Doctor’s Profile

Physicians will have to provide their qualifications and credentials, such as education, internships, work experience, and certifications. Their profiles should also include internal information, such as ratings, shifts, and important hospital notifications.

Calendar Management

Physicians should also be able to schedule their appointments via calendars. Modern telemedicine apps should include scheduling, rescheduling, and third-party integrations as basic features.

Electronic Health Records

When doctors get notified about an appointment, they should be granted access to the patient’s medical file. This is absolutely necessary in order to provide an accurate consultation and diagnosis.Then after each visit, the doctor should update the file to ensure that records are kept current.

The telemedicine solution can be further enriched with additional features such as the patient’s treatment history, graphs with treatment dynamics, and e-prescriptions.

Video And Text Communication

Doctors, like patients, will also need video and text connectivity. Keep in mind that doctors may need to contact patients after an appointment for follow-ups or results. Thus, text messages are critical because they enable the doctor to communicate directly and immediately with the patient without the need for another appointment.

Internal Data Exchange

Physicians may need to exchange data and prescriptions between departments. For example, a doctor may transfer their patient to a specialist. In order to do this, there will need to be a seamless exchange of internal information.

Best Tech Stack for Telehealth App Development

Well, now let’s look at how to develop a telemedicine app and walk through what technologies stack is applicable the best for these solutions.
In a nutshell, the base of the mobile telehealth platform is usually native Android, iOS. What about telemedicine web apps, these ones are preferably built on React Native and Nodes programming languages with the integration of WebRTC technology.

But it’s just a foundation, besides that there are other types of the tech stack that are most commonly used for telemedicine software development:

  • WebRTC

    The WebRTC is a web browser, and mobile applications enabling technology. It provides real-time communication via simple application programming interfaces. It helps users connect directly into the user experience you create. Implementing WebRTC in application development allows deploying text chats, secure voice exchange, screen sharing, live videos, and store-and-forward data transfer.

  • Electronic health records (EHRs) and Electronic medical records (EMRs) systems

    They are often built on Rails, GraphQL, etc. They are technologies that store and provide patient's details and history. It is more like the digital version of a patient's paper record. They make information available instantly and secure information to be accessed by only authorized users.

  • The Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

    IVR is an automated telephony system technology. It works in a way that enables computers to interact with humans the details on an IVR script, through the use of voice and DTMF tones.

  • Cloud-based server solutions

    This is a widespread and useful practice in the healthcare industry, that we also have chosen for the development of communication platform. So, cloud-based solutions help with the exchange, management, and storage of data in the cloud.

    telemedicine software features

  • HealthKit Integration: Google Fit and Apple HealthKit

    Google Fit is a health-tracking platform developed by Google for the Android operating system. By the way, recently it has become available for iOS devices too. Apple HealthKit is developed for iOS and consist of HealthKit, CareKit and Research Kit that form the ecosystem.

    They both can be used to develop telehealth apps with health monitoring features and transfer easily health data between patients and doctors, wearable devices and phone, etc. But distinguish between them is that Google Fit focuses more on medical data and is purposed for setting fitness goals while iOS HealthKit

Read our guide on how to create video calling app and voice chat app development.

 

Technologies used in Telehealth Apps

Well, now we know the basic tech stack for telemedicine software development. Besides that, there are other technologies that can move this Medtech industry on an even more advanced level.

Some of the most prominent technological innovations through which telehealth is being expressed and experienced include the following:

  • Artificial Intelligence

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the strongest technologies in tech medicine and especially telehealth. According to the  Accenture report, AI-based medical and telehealth applications will reach around $150 billion valuations in the healthcare industry by the end of 2026. But let’s come back to the ways of using AI in telehealth, that are:

    1. Chatbots

      They offer simple and quick answers to the patients' questions not involving the doctors. For example, that might work before booking a video conferencing with a doctor. Chatbot platform can answer all patients' questions before they book a video call with a doctor.

      how to build a telemedicine platform

    2. Better diagnosis and recommending treatment with AI help

      Telemedicine solutions with remote health monitoring functions combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning can deliver much precise diagnosis and recommends needed treatment. ML technologies can study every patient’s case through video conferencing software and improves their algorithm to deliver a better diagnosis on each one.

      The real-life example is the medical project of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services project. They implemented primary care-based telemedicine screening for diabetic retinopathy in their public clinics and reduced the number of more than 14,000 visits. Using video conferencing together with AI technologies helped to reduce wait times for screening by almost 90%.

    3. Preventing burnout with AI-based telemedicine solutions

      Telemedicine solutions can really help doctors to combat burnout. But when they work along with AI they can become even more powerful. For example, AI algorithms can automate some simple tasks like entering notes in EMR that optimize doctor’s workloads and improve their job satisfaction.

  • Virtual Reality

    This savvy technology has proven useful and of the essence in a different capacity within the telehealth and entire medical industry. It is most especially, revolutionizing the surgeries and medical training and education.

    VR technologies have revolutionized communication interfaces in telemedicine software making it more interactive. With VR surgeons and their teams can now watch a 3D video and engage in surgical operations without ever looking away. This improves medicine on an even more advanced level.

  • Augmented Reality

    AR technology is similar to VR as it is often used together and also is very useful in medicine. Combining video conferencing and AR technologies allows doctors and even surgeons to operate on patients located far away. That allows that even intercontinental medical team can now work together and have easily video consultations with each other on the difficult and urgent cases. For example, the telehealth platform can use AR to visualize with the patient’s data and digital interface with video conferencing streamline with a doctor.

  • Voice Search

    Voice search is also AI-based technology, however, it is worth to be mentioned separately, as its usage benefits the telemedicine a lot. Besides, its usage is on the high rise: 50% of all online searches will be made with a voice-search assistant by 2020 under Comscore study . Voice search features is pretty useful for telemedicine solutions when patients can use voice assistants to schedule their doctor’s appointments or ask some questions before having a medical consultation.

Although that’s not a full list of all available technologies in medicine, these ones can be primarily used in the telemedicine app development with the idea to make it even more useful and valuable.

Challenges and Tips to Watch Out While Building Telehealth App

Anyway if you have already decided to build own telehealth software or not, there are some challenges that you might be faced during your healthcare project development. With the reason that you overcome them quickly we share with you handy tips from our experience you need to watch out while developing any telemedicine solution:

  • Identify your target audience and your patient’s needs. It is pertinent to have a target audience and conduct research on what needs and problems your solution has to solve for patients or doctors.

  • The level of functionality and the quality of your telemedicine app should be of utmost concern to you and your team of developers. Considering patients’ needs, defined what functionalities and features your application needs to solve them. Here is a list of possible telemedicine software functions that you can get some telehealth app idea or feature for your own project:

    • Booking & Scheduling Appointments With Doctors
    • Video Consultation With Doctors
    • In-app chat
    • Patient’s data management & tracking
    • Custom notifications
    • ePrescription
    • Mobile payment & billing
    • Customer support
  • Consider the multi-platforms approach in health app development that refers to building mobile apps used and running smoothly on multiple mobile platforms just like native iOS, Android or web app.

  • Choose a tech stack you can use to implement all desired features for your patients but also consider the factors on your software performance, server infrastructure, and think ahead to ascertain if your chosen technologies will be applicable in the nearest future.

  • UX design for telehealth app is also crucial part for app success as it should be meaningful but easy in use. Don’t try to overload users with too many features or long tutorials, as they break a good user experience.

    Hence, healthcare UX is even more impactful than enterprise UX. Poor usability of telehealth software reduces the chances that this platform can be successful even if it’s a revolutionary idea in medicine. Thus, solid interfaces and functional user experiences, are essential in telehealth application design.

    telehealth security platform development

  • Think about the option of adding additional integration in your app like integration with wearable devices, photo-based consultation, chat integration, etc. But again come back to the main purpose if your health platform and decide whether such additional integration would meet that and be really practical for users.

  • Ensure the security of your application and your telehealth software compliance with legal regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, HITECH and European regulations on patients’ data privacy.

    Thus, it’s critical to deploy secure authentication and data encryption in your medical software. As secured and protected health information and patient privacy is an essential requirement of any medical app including telemedicine. After that, implementing full safety and security of your platform your users can trust you and trust your software.

  • Consider a test program. Test app work on its improvement. After your app is developed don’t stop right there but test the app and look into areas that can still make some improvement and modification. Here is a list of some app testing points you might want to check: app performance, app compatibility, create real-world scenarios like poor connectivity and test your app in them.

  • Gather patients' feedback on the app and use it to improve it and make it better.

Read also cost of telehealth system and what is the best WebRTC live streaming server.

Summarily, despite the fact that it seems as though developing telehealth app is quite a complex process that requires much time and involves a lot of challenges, following the above-listed tips can help you navigate through the process seamlessly and can make it much easier and consistent for you. Whether the app is for an established medical organization or the start of a new idea for a med tech startup, put your best into its development, as these types of apps do not just bring profits to their developers and providers but for users too. As the real value of the medical app is quantified by the positive impact it makes on people's health and life.

Do not get too encumbered with finding your way around developing a telemedicine app. If it gets too difficult, get a free consultation with a professional team.

Our software development team at Softermii has extensive expertise in healthcare and telemedicine software development with several successful projects within this niche. So, we are always ready to share our experience with you answering any questions you might have regarding your project or even idea for app development.

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