Because of the pandemic, telecommuting has gained particular value in the healthcare business. Telemedicine has joined a group of industries that received a new impetus for development after the introduction of quarantine measures.
According to Fortune Business Insight, back in 2019, the industry’s volume amounted to $61.4 billion, and by 2027 it promises to reach $559.52 billion. Having an own platform for the provision of medical services is not just important but vital. What is it, and how to make a telemedicine app?
What is the Telemedicine App and how it works
Telemedicine is the remote provision of medical services using digital technologies, including applications.
Many people interested in how to build a telehealth app do not understand the difference between Telemedicine and Telehealth. Both belong to the Health IT category but differ in capabilities. Telehealth platforms cover a wider range of services.
These include telemedicine, education, telepharmaceuticals, and other non-clinical services that can be delivered remotely. Telemedicine is focused on clinical applications.
Modes of providing medical services through the Telemedicine App:
- Video conferencing: an interactive mode for remote viewing of patients in real-time.
When used: initial examination and history taking, confirmation of the diagnosis, monitoring during post-traumatic rehabilitation, and psychotherapy.
- Consultation: a mode for providing treatment recommendations in voice, text, or asynchronous video format (when data is recorded and transmitted in advance).
When used: adjusting the treatment plan, advising on medication, prescribing tests, and monitoring after leaving the hospital.
- Prescription issuance: a mode for issuing electronic prescriptions.
When used: prescribing home care prescription drugs based on the patient’s electronic medical history and examination results.
The application works on the following principle: the patient creates an account and searches for a doctor based on symptoms, pays for services after consultation, and receives receipts. The application can be universal and specialized.
In the first case, it is, in fact, a marketplace with the services of various doctors, usually self-employed. In the second case, the application belongs to the clinic. The benefits of the Telemedicine App can hardly be overestimated for both doctors and patients.
Why to build a telemedicine platform: benefits for doctors and patients
Providing medical care through the app is beneficial for everyone: patients have free access to healthcare, and doctors can effectively manage their time. So let’s consider how the medical business can be improved by making a telemedicine app and how patients’ lives are simplified.
The tasks of the medical business that the Telemedicine App solves:
- Data centralization and monitoring. The application has a monitoring system and a database: all information about the patient’s health is kept in the electronic record format (EHR). According to HealthIT, The EHR is the first step towards transforming healthcare services. Access to EHR improves treatment efficiency and reduces the risk of medical errors.
- Optimization of the schedule. As declared in industry statistics, 20% of doctors work 60-80 hours a week. Moreover, 15% of doctors admit that they are susceptible to depression, so their working capacity decreases. Telemedicine allows you to flexibly manage time and correctly distribute the workload.
- Automation of administrative processes. By building a telemedicine business app, doctors can automate workflows and minimize the routine of filing reports and maintaining medical records.
- Service quality assurance. With remote services, doctors can spend more time on each patient and prescribe treatment faster, which positively impacts the quality of services.
Healthcare Coalition statistics confirm that 50% of doctors who practiced telemedicine during the pandemic have become more productive.
About 60% noted the effectiveness of using telemedicine to serve patients from cities, suburbs, and villages.
Almost 70% of specialists expressed a desire to expand the use of telemedicine in their practice.
Patient tasks that the Telemedicine App solves:
- Search for specialized professionals. Patients can search for doctors all over the world. Telemedicine services are helpful when there is no specialist in the city of residence, and treatment is urgently needed.
- Comprehensive home treatment. The doctor assesses the patient’s condition, prescribes examinations, and makes prescriptions. The results of the SingleCare survey for January 2021 has shown that 69% of patients use telemedicine for the treatment of common illnesses (flu, colds, allergies), and 44% for chronic ones.
- Scheduled examinations and health monitoring. More than 65% of patients are remotely monitored after hospitalization, and about 35% are examined annually. It saves time on trips to the clinic and waiting in line.
- Access to medical data. Patients can view their medical records saved in electronic documents and send them to specialized specialists and family members using the application.
The same SingleCare survey shows that 78% of patients are satisfied with telemedicine services. At the same time, 42% of respondents noted that they saved time, and 36% said that the online meeting was successful.
Therefore, it is no surprise that the healthcare industry is now in high demand in the mobile app development market.
How to build a telemedicine platform: 4 key stages
According to McKinsey, more than 80% of medical business representatives plan to invest in telehealth technologies. And 84% of companies want to cover even more areas. And they are all interested in one thing: how to make a telemedicine app. The software development process can be divided into 4 stages.
- Project potential assessment and business analysis. Competitors are analyzed, the target audience is determined, and user characters, User Story, and Customer Journey Map are created.
- Study of software requirements. The requirements for the telemedicine application, industry regulations (HIPAA, HITECH, etc.), and standards to be followed are defined.
- Function prioritization. A set of valuable functions for business users (doctors) and target audiences (patients) is being compiled.
Mandatory functions for a doctor:
- Doctor’s profile: registration of a doctor with an indication of specialization, competencies, and experience.
- Calendar: scheduling online meetings, monitoring the schedule, and changing the schedule in accordance with current requests.
- Access to the database (EHR): view electronic medical records to obtain complete information about the patient.
- Communication channels: communication with patients using text messages, voice calls, or video sessions.
- Document exchange: prescribing prescription drugs and issuing referrals for examinations.
- Payment Management: receiving payment for services through the built-in payment gateway with automatic sending of receipts.
- Registration: the creation of an account for storing personal information and sign in with 2-Step Verification.
- Health Records: Medical records (EHR) that are hidden for third parties.
- Calendar: Appointment management that uses synchronization with Google Calendar and notifications.
- Geolocation: Tracking medical and pharmaceutical facilities nearby.
- Search: selection of specialists by profile, location, language, or rating.
- Communication channels: communication via video (RTMP, WebRTC), chat, or voice.
- Payments: transactions through built-in gateways, for example, PayPal, Stripe, or Braintree.
- Rating: evaluating the quality of service through the built-in feedback system.
Advice. We recommend that you create a test version of the application (MVP), including several useful functions from the list. It will allow collecting feedback from early users, assessing market demand, and making a decision to change the functionality.
Planning and architecture design
- Planning: reproducing the basic logic of the application, distributing functionality across screens, setting up logical connections between screens to ensure a high-quality user experience. It is executed based on custom scripts and a client path.
- Design: rendering all screens and graphic interface elements (buttons, logos, icons, fonts, and animations) based on the brand book to form user-friendly application logic.
Development and testing
- Development: building architecture, data exchange structures, organizing a database, developing server scripts, creating an admin panel, deploying and configuring logging systems, layout of screens and animations, setting up logic, implementing API functionality, and adapting to Android and iOS platforms.
- Testing and bugs fixing: detection of bugs and inconsistencies, elimination using Quality Assurance, Quality Control, and Bug Fixing methods.
Certification and launch
- Certification: adaptation of software to state standards and norms. For example, HIPAA in the US, 1995/46/EC (data protection) and 2002/58/EC/IEC 62304 (electronic data privacy) in Europe, the general regulation of the GDPR.
- Deployment: placing a finished application in the App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft Store.
How to expand the capabilities of the telemedicine platform
The development of a telemedicine application is carried out on the basis of the latest technologies. To expand the capabilities of the platform, AI tools, Big Data, IoT, and blockchain are often used.
The latest technologies used in telemedicine apps:
- Artificial Intelligence: Automating the interaction with the application and improving the user experience. For example, natural language processing, speech recognition technology.
- Internet of Things: connection of smart wearable devices (fitness trackers, Thermal Stress Meters, etc.), which collect data about the patient’s condition and transmit it to the doctor or notify the patient about the time of taking medication.
- Big data: collecting and analyzing a large number of electronic medical records and using them to make accurate diagnoses, conduct examinations, prescribe medications and draw up individual treatment plans.
- Blockchain: storing medical data on secure servers and exchanging files in an encrypted format over distributed networks, which guarantees 100% confidentiality.
The number and specificity of modern technologies implemented in the application is one of the factors that determine the final development cost.
How much does it cost to build a telehealth app?
It is easy to calculate the cost of software development if you know the approximate time to complete the project. To find out how long it takes to develop an application for Android and iOS, you need to roughly estimate the timing of the stages.
Example: business analysis (100 hours), project management (260 hours), UX and UI design (450 and 650 hours), testing (640 hours), external and internal development (2300 and 930 h). Such a project would take 5300 hours. The resulting number must be multiplied by the hourly rate of the IT company.
The cost also depends on other factors: the complexity of the functionality, the scale of the project, the technology stack, and the developer’s location.
According to Zip Recruiter, the most attractive development rates in Eastern Europe and Ukraine are average $50 per hour – cost hire team of healthcare software development.
So, telemedicine now plays an essential role as a link between doctors and patients. It is indispensable in conditions where distance is a critical factor, for example, if the patient is self-isolated.
During the pandemic, virtual assistance became 38 times more in demand, which confirms the need to build a telemedicine app for businesses, especially startups.