It seems that our society is currently on the cusp of a new connected healthcare industry. In 2021, rapid telemedicine app development is a completely reasonable and justified trend all over the world. In part, this is because of the dramatic global challenges, forcing healthcare systems to reform. Plus, medical organizations are increasingly giving preference to remote care delivery services because of the tremendous benefits it provides to both patients and doctors. Not to mention, there is so much more that connected healthcare can do.
The only question is: how?
The short answer is: using telemedicine software.
Our mission is to help you navigate the most challenging application development processes. So, in this article, together with discussing the telehealth platform's value, we want you to look into the matter by understanding all sides of the spectrum.
Are you ready to find out more? Then sit back and enjoy. We will talk about the technical features, critical stages, average costs, and the challenges of telemedicine software development.
Telemedicine application is a piece of software used to provide different healthcare services to patients. The concept involves developing a specific application that allows both patients and doctors to remotely communicate and monitor health status, get direct access to clinical records at any time, reduce paperwork, and more. Below, you can see the crucial reasons why many startups and entrepreneurs choose to invest in telemedicine app development.
Reduced healthcare costs;
In addition to cutting costs on unnecessary hospital visits, both doctors and patients can communicate through a mobile app to achieve the same goals. From the patient side, easy access to healthcare services saves money on costly trips to hospitals. In turn, they are less exposed to various illnesses and gain greater satisfaction using 24/7 healthcare services.
On the doctor's side, there are more opportunities to become self-employed and provide services without the need for a separate working place. Telemedicine app features increase independence and increase customer flow. Shorter consultations, healthier conversations, and faster medical solutions are typical results that telemedicine apps can offer. As a result, this will significantly increase care service revenues and reduce maintenance costs.
Improved time efficiency for doctors, treatment process, and clinical activities;
Providing medical services on time is very important. More control over the allocation of time for doctor consultations can make scheduling more flexible, and patient screening faster and more efficient. Using the telemedicine platform, patients can schedule a consultation whenever it is convenient for both parties. This ability to significantly speed up the screening and treatment process helps physicians more accurately plan their time for other clinical events and patients.
Direct and distant access to healthcare services;
Direct access to healthcare services for people living in rural places is especially valuable. Thanks to the telemedicine app's features, even people living in areas where there are no medical facilities can access these services remotely via a cellular network or Wi-Fi. In theory, doctor consultations can even be provided for people visiting or living in another country.
Less shortage of medical workers;
Due to the reduced demand for in-person hospital visits, clinicians can more effectively manage their time and focus on timely patient consultations for people with more severe health conditions. This way, a doctor's appointments can be clearly seen when using the app features. For more extended app functionality, there is an opportunity to administrate a doctor's workload and maintain their work-life balance. All of this together will reduce the frequent shortage of medical workers in hospitals.
Simple access to EHR (Electronic Health Records).
Easy access to a patient's clinical records not only saves a doctor's time but also helps with keeping their health data up to date. This way, it is possible to avoid unacceptable medication errors and inappropriate patient care delivery. One of the key points here is to incorporate the most robust security protocols into your system to keep patient medical records safe.
While the general benefits of telemedicine platforms are emphasized, there may be more individual benefits and features specific to the needs of physicians and patients. We will talk more about this in the next section.
By the way, if this topic interests you more, have a look at the article on Remote Patient Monitoring systems to find out how it differs from the telemedicine concept.
Once we have identified the growing value of telemedicine platforms, it's time to figure out the differences in telemedicine app features for patients and doctors. In the process of doing so, we will present a feature list with the important functions most inherent to both roles. The application's capabilities for patients and doctors are slightly different and you are free to add your own app features.
The patient’s side should be embedded with a registration form so that users will be able to create a personal account and access EHR. This feature is very important because the patient's data must be displayed in the telemedicine application. Two-step authentication will ensure a proper level of data security. Login options can be done using third-party tools like Facebook Login, Google Sign-In, or personal email.
The next step is to take care of the display of the patient's data. User’s data can include gender, age, address, location, time zone, phone number, email, emergency number list, etc. This feature must also display information about previous visits, and the user's EHR. This way, doctors can look through their treatment history and understand the patient's health conditions.
Search & filters.
The standard search & filters option will facilitate app interaction. As a result, patients will be able to quickly search for the required doctor information based on ratings, specialty, and similar filters.
Depending on the problem, patients should be able to communicate with doctors in the most appropriate way. Built-in video and audio conferencing and text chats are a must for real-time and smooth communication between doctors and patients. The main emphasis must be placed on the quality of all methods of interaction.
In the case of video and audio conferencing, developers should optimize for potential instability in the internet connection to avoid distorted images or low sound levels when patients show potential injury or just communicate with doctors. Such streaming protocols as RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) and WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) are the most optimal technologies to meet this requirement. Text chat capability must be also integrated with sufficient security, as messages can contain personal files and photos.
There are situations when there is a need to reschedule an appointment and make real-time changes. The built-in calendar in the telemedicine platform allows patients to schedule appointments or change consultation dates if necessary. The easiest way to do this is to integrate Google Calendar API. So, as soon as the doctor approves the changes, the patient will receive a notification from Google Calendar.
One more vital feature for any telemedicine application is the payment system. Whether you build a custom payment system or integrate third-party systems, security comes first. In the case of integrating such payment gateways as Stripe, Braintree, and PayPal, an additional fee will be added for each transaction. The process of building your payment system is more complex and requires a high level of software expertise. Do not hesitate to contact us for professional advice on this matter.
Ratings, grades, and reviews help to find reliable doctors. This way, both parties will find credible services. Patients should have an opportunity to rate the doctor to help new users find the expected quality of service. A penalty system is an additional way to build mutual trust in the interaction between the patient and the doctor along with keeping the client's health a priority.
Small reminders will help all users keep track of their appointments and be notified of any possible updates.
Here, we would like to point out some differences from the patient app feature list.
Physician profiles should display the data on their medical competencies, experience, and specialization to build more trust with the potential patients and help them find the exact specialist they need.
Using calendars, doctors can have an admin role, confirm patient appointments, and schedule them where possible. If patients postpone the consultation, doctors will have an opportunity to confirm or provide feedback to the patient.
Direct access to the patient's EHR is a must for physicians, so it is important to ensure that sensitive patient data is loaded from the database consistently.
Obviously, two-sided communication should be also implemented on the technical side of telemedicine apps for doctors. With the help of in-app chats, audio and video conferencing, they will be able to remotely provide medical services and view possible injuries to patients or detect any symptoms of illness. All communication methods should maintain a high quality and security of sensitive data transmission.
This feature is especially essential for doctors, as one of the main parts of their job is to prescribe medicines to patients.
Other functions not mentioned here, such as payment management, notifications, and rating systems, should be considered similarly for the doctor's function list.
Next, to meet all the strict requirements for a final app solution, let’s move on to discussing the best technology stack.
During the telemedicine app development process, various programming languages, different frameworks, cloud environments, payment gateways, databases, and third-party tools are considered by highly experienced developers to define a suitable technical stack. So, on the technical side of telemedicine app development, we think the following technology stack list best meets the needs of distant healthcare services.
Just note that the stack choice may vary depending on the case.
Swift (for IOS development)
Kotlin or Java ( for Android development)
Server environment- Node.js
Videoconferencing, chats - Twilio
APIs and other frameworks - Stripe, EC2
GoogleCloud or AWS
Text chats - XMPP Framework
Geolocation - Google Maps Platform
As with any app development process, there are separate stages during which a certain function is performed by the development team. Depending on the complexity of the application's features, the skills of the development team, experience, and the overall size of the project, the time required to complete each stage may vary. However, even with the work management approach that our clients choose, the risk of missing out on something important is much lower, as we ensure the best time optimization and results-based implementation.
We now invite you to take a quick look at our telemedicine app development roadmap.
Any software development project starts with a discovery phase. Some companies may have their own names for this stage, but the concept remains the same. This step is critical as all the product specifications are formalized to serve as a baseline for the next steps of telemedicine app development.
Moreover, the task to develop a telemedicine app requires long preparation and meticulous research, since such apps deal with people's health. Because of this, business analysts research the market and gather customer expectations for a telemedicine app.
In addition, the timeline requirements, total budget calculation, and project goals are also set during this stage. This leads to a clear product vision and precise guidelines for the development team.
Telemedicine app prototypes are developed to understand how the app will look. This way, it will be clear to the whole team and client what possible application uncertainties need to be resolved before the core app development phase is launched. In addition, it will be easier to assess how the application's features, selected technology stack, usability, and aesthetics best meet the expectations of the final solution.
The way patients and doctors will interact with an app, it is crucial to simplify the process as much as possible. The development of a telemedicine application is not a competition for the best design solution. The fewer overloads and the simpler the usability of your application, the easier it is for the doctor and patient to focus on the consultation and it’s main goals.
Based on the app specifications and requirements gathered in the previous stages, the development team proceeds to implement the application's functionality. Alternatively, you may choose to create an MVP (Minimum Valuable Product) version of the product with basic features for Android users. By doing this, you will skip a lot of market research, reach a wider audience and protect your business from potential losses. However, it will cost you twice as much if you later think about developing a second platform for IOS users.
Before the final app release, the QA team ensures that the app doesn’t have any flaws that are critical to the correct functioning of the telemedicine app. Regular unit tests carried out by the QA team after each development sprint halve the risks associated with the need to fix code. This way, potential app failures will be prevented quickly and the final app will be released sooner.
The steps discussed above are common to almost every application development process. That is why they were briefly demonstrated. But, if you want to learn more about how the app development process works at LANARS, read this.
The process of developing telehealth applications is not a piece of cake. Apart from the wide range of benefits that healthcare software offers to entrepreneurs, there are some pitfalls that you may encounter in the process. Legal restrictions, existing uncertainties in the patient's privacy protection, and some questionable technical limitations. So, we are obliged to eliminate potential stumbling blocks arising out of this complex process.
Let’s highlight them together.
There is particular international and local legislation and medical standards aimed at protecting patient’s sensitive data and medical records. Before launching the process of telehealth app development, your app must comply with the stated rules.
In the United States it is called HIPAA regulations, in Canada - PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act), in Europe - Data Protection Directive 1995/46/EC and the e-Privacy Directive 2002/58/EC/ IEC 62304. In addition, there are other regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), IMLC (Interstate Medical Licensure Compact), or local prescribing and telemedicine regulations. All of them establish specific rules of care, assign responsibility, and act to protect the rights of consumers of health services.
Here, there are specific technical concerns app developers must eventually meet while building a telemedicine platform. For example, the major ones for HIPAA compliance are:
A synchronized monitoring process, login control, and data storage is required;
Any unauthorized access and data breaches are unacceptable;
The chosen tools must ensure a secure process of data transfer and the successful implementation of all norms.
As you can see, the major focus is on cybersecurity, accessibility, reliable data storage, and exchange. Depending on a specific territory, the legal and privacy issues must be applied by default.
The next important step to building a telemedicine system is to ensure the highest level of data safety. When dealing with tons of personal data, this question must not be taken for granted. So, the development team should use the most trusted technology tools, proven frameworks, and libraries to prevent authentication breaches or illegal data exploitation.
The implementation of such algorithms may become a problem for developers with a lack of experience in building compliant and robust telemedicine applications. That is why one of the solutions to meet all needed requirements is to leverage tools with the latest security updates and regular system self-assessments to rule out any potential vulnerabilities.
Complex technical implementation
To meet all the aforementioned standards of cybersecurity, data safety, and regulatory acts of compliance, it is recommended to choose technologies wisely. Otherwise, your telemedicine app success won’t last long. From a technical standpoint, there are often many problems associated with:
Misuse of streaming protocols.
In the first case, the scope of telemedicine apps for healthcare often becomes a challenge for the development team. Because of this, sometimes developers are not sufficiently prepared to meet the growing user demand. To overcome such situations, it is recommended to regularly analyze and optimize the code, apply a server cloning technique or automatically scale server resources.
In the case of backend integration, it is essential to ensure rapid and successful data synchronization on the doctor and patient's end. Secondly, the integration of third-party services should also be studied before applying them to a process. Otherwise, large data flows will eventually show up and significantly damage your system.
Poor video quality is also a big challenge. This aspect is critical to the value of video conferencing between patient and doctor. In the worst case, doctors can make a mistake and prescribe an ineffective treatment due to poor video quality during consultations. So, a solid streaming experience is the next “must-have” attribute of the telemedicine platform.
If you think that a ready-made telemedicine application is the endpoint of your application development process, know that it is not. The next step is to ensure that your app is released to market smoothly and is successful as soon as possible. We are convinced the best approach that can make your application effective is based on three pillars: design, evaluation, and learning.
So, the process after launching your telemedicine application should include the following steps and recommendations:
User’s feedback must be collected after the first version of your app is released to the market;
It is recommended that you study the customer feedback received and analyze it carefully;
Engage with users more, take into account features that users say they lack when using your application;
Set one month for adding new features so that users won’t lose interest before choosing your competitors' offerings.
Use appropriate tools for A and B testing.
Keep improving your app to make it effective and a worthy choice for healthcare consumers.
This chosen approach shows the maximum usefulness and efficiency for the further development of the application.
For us, it would be incorrect to offer exact numbers, as the needs of each app is unique. A full-featured telemedicine platform can be both a mid-range or an expensive and long-lasting choice.
The approximate time taken for developing a core feature x developers rate is the basic formula to calculate the telemedicine app development cost. As for simple comparison, specific developer rates vary from one country to another. Look at the table:
In-demand outsourcing destinations
According to the table above, it is clear that the best value for money you can expect is from the Ukrainian development team. An approximate timeframe for building a telemedicine app starts from half of a year. All the time and cost variables depend on the business requirements, the number of core MVP features, and the number of specialists involved in the development process.
In any case, we are ready to inform you more accurately after completing the technical specifications or, to consult with an idea of your application that will fit your budget. Just click here to contact us.
New concepts of e-health are already changing global health systems. We cannot fail to recognize that the need for telemedicine apps is building huge demand in the market of healthcare services.
With all that being said above, you may conclude that telemedicine app development has proven to be the leading startup idea across the world. Indeed, electronic healthcare products are becoming more appreciated, due to extremely fast medical service delivery along with providing personal convenience and resource optimization.
Still, developing a legal and fully-featured telemedicine platform, along with ensuring adequate security, accessibility, and reliable storage of data, seems like a difficult challenge. Add to this the fact that legal compliance is also becoming more demanding. Nevertheless, any tricky problems can be studied at the earliest stages and resolved in turn. The first step is always the hardest, but a professional development team is always ready to help you along the way.
What are the main benefits of telemedicine app development?
Healthcare facilities benefit from telemedicine software with reduced healthcare costs, less shortage of medical workers, remote 24/7 access to healthcare delivery services, overall time-efficiency for clinical activities, and simple access to EHR.
What are the most common challenges while building a telemedicine platform?
The most complex challenges related to the process of developing a telemedicine app are regulatory compliance, assurance of a high level of data security, and backend implementation.
How much does it cost to build a telemedicine app from scratch?
To get a detailed estimation of your own telemedicine app, you should take into account the business purposes, the specific developer rates, the functionality stack, and other specialists involved in the development process. Just contact us to help you calculate the cost individually.
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