Digitization has already paved its way to healthcare. Today, telemedicine apps and virtual doctor visits are taken for granted. If you think about hopping in this wide-open window of opportunity, this post is for you. Read on about how telehealth apps work, pros and cons, and where to start the telemedicine app development.
Why Telemedicine Is Important?
Think this way: you have a lack of time to get to the doctor or your car is broken. Or you feel too bad to go. Telemedicine apps have already broken these barriers. Today, you can see a doctor virtually via a mobile application. No need to wait nearly 24 days for the first appointment with a specialist.
Patient-focus technologies play an essential role in medical care and telemedicine is the middle of the telehealth industry. The term was coined in the 1970s and literally means “healing at a distance”. Things started as a way to reach patients in remote locations and supply a standard part of healthcare facilities.
Now, health care professionals fall for communication technologies. They use it to exchange valid information for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and injuries, research, and evaluation. Some apps even help to continue the education of health care providers.
What are the benefits of telemedicine apps? At the times of outbreaks of infectious diseases, the virtual doctor consultation is a critical step forward. As for COVID-19, remote consultation can literally save from spreading or getting infected by the virus. But let’s enumerate the pros of telehealth in general:
- Telemedicine apps are accessible, affordable, and convenient for patients.
- The virtual doctor consultation and quick follow-up visits improve patients outcomes in ever-rising healthcare costs.
- Hospital readmissions get reduced, and doctors have more control over their working hours.
- The increased access to specialists which are unavailable at the patent’s location.
There are also a few drawbacks of this medical care type:
- Without the first-hand examination, the specialist may miss certain symptoms and give an inaccurate diagnosis.
- Private insurance payers and federal health reimbursements don’t cover all services telemedicine provides.
- Personal data collecting, storage, and accessibility should follow HIPAA and GDPR.
Currently, the telemedicine market takes 3,5 billion in USD and the outbreaks of infectious diseases may advance this growth.
What Are Telemedicine Applications?
So what are exactly those apps doing? In general, telehealth mobile apps collect and store administrative and personal data. Doctors use this information to diagnose, interpret, and treat patients. The core task of these applications to enhance health management, treatment, and overall health care.
What are the three different types of telemedicine?
- Store-and-forward app (aka asynchronous telemedicine.) The healthcare providers share pre-recorded patient medical information with specialists in other locations. The sharing reminds a kind of emailing data yet preserving confidentiality. Usually, the shared data is lab reports, X-ray images, videos, and the like. This type is trending for diagnosing and treatment of dermatology, ophthalmology, and radiology.
- Remote patient monitoring app (aka telemonitoring.) This way allows specialists to track the updates on the patient’s vital signs and activities from the distance. Such virtual doctors are useful for people who suffer from chronic diseases or have recently been released from the hospital.
- Realtime or live video conferencing apps. This way reminds a classical in-person visit. The difference is the medium: the doctor and the patient use video-conferencing. It is often chosen for primary or urgent care, repeated visits, medication management, and chronic illness.
These days, telemedicine apps become more complex and offer advanced functionality. For example, adaptive scheduling, multitasking, resource management, healthkit integrations, AI (i.e. chatbots, augmented reality, and virtual reality.)
Are you considering developing a telemedicine app? Then you should have a specific toolset that will attract the attention of 3,5 billion people worldwide who uses smartphones. Start with checking out the shortlist of the most popular telemedicine mobile apps.
What Are the Best Examples of Telemedicine Apps?
This app provides virtual doctor visits and prescriptions for all US citizens. Lemonaid works on Android and iOS platforms. Its workflow is simple. First, you fill out the online questionnaire about the health condition, then dedicated medical team reviews and give related questions. Then, they ship your medicine. Their consultation costs from $25 but the insurance doesn’t cover this service.
It helps you to visit a doctor online. The app supports both iOS and Android versions. To use MDLive, you register an account, find a specialist you need, and then start the consultation. You can communicate with a doctor via phone, app, or website. The insurance covers this service and the basic consultation goes for $82.
Doctor on Demand
The app attracts a large audience due to serving patients with and without insurance. It supports Android or iOS platforms. The peculiarities of this app: virtual consultations, doctor's note (if needed), and consultation costs available before scheduling. The last one is nice as it deprives you of invoice surprises.
Babylon Healthcare Services
This telemedicine app gives you access to healthcare information services, medical prescriptions. Also, it allows scheduling appointments with qualified professionals, straight from your phone. Babylon works for iOS and Android platforms. The app asks questions, evaluates answers, and risk factors using AI technology. After that direct the patient to a relevant specialist.
This app is a place for delivering telemedicine for companies. Dialogue features include: live chat and video consultations with specialists from various medical branches, the prescription renovations, and free delivery. Dialogue stores your data, so there is no need to provide it during every interaction with a doctor.
How to Develop a Telemedicine App?
The telehealth apps vary in the features, communication and payment types, and the like. However, they include common modules: patient features, doctor features, and admin dashboard. If you have done the business part (i.e., targeted audience, the purpose of the app, monetization streams, budget for development and marketing, and so on), you can go to the technical one. That takes the following steps:
- Market search. Here you do the analysis of the competitors’ functionalities for the sake of finding your unique offer.
- Planning the app architecture. This step embraces a detailed description of features, app logic, tech stack, and MVP architecture.
- UX/UI design
- App development (the coding and testing steps.)
To kick things off with your app, we omit the business part and go to the technical one. And precisely let’s talk about the features your telehealth MVP should have. The telehealth app has two types of users so there are two lists of must-keep features. Let’s list them out.
- Sign in process. Consider a multiple-way: email, phone, social media profiles. The two-factor authentication is vital as your app will deal with sensitive data.
- Profile should store personal information (i.e., name, age, weight, and the like) and health-related data (i.e., illnesses, allergies, blood type, and so on.) The feature to add X-ray scans and lab results will be also useful.
- Search bar and filters. The patient needs to find a required specialist fast. For the MVP make a limited list of filters: specialization, doctor credentials, review, rates, and so on.
- Calendar allows a patient to schedule and manage the appointments.
- Geolocation is required for prescription shipping or pharmacies nearby.
- Communication. You can offer a live chat, in-app calls, or live video calls. Provide options for transferring images, audio, and video files. The messages are better to get encrypted to ensure patient confidentiality.
- Push notifications will remind the patient about the upcoming appointments.
- Payment. You can realize it in a few ways: credit card, PayPal/Stripe, medical insurance, or employer coverage.
- Review and rating. Quality care gets good responses from patients and helps to attract new users. Besides, the choice of a specialist becomes more informed.
- Profile. Enable the basic doctor’s info: specializations, education, experience. Don’t forget about the other credentials that patients may want to check.
- Calendar helps specialists to organize the working hours and show time spots available for scheduling.
- Communication options in MVP should be equal to those you offer for patients.
- EHR (electronic medical record) software. Consider the integration of EHR to smooth the workflow and usability of the app. Doctors should have access to accurate information on the patient’s medical data.
- Medical prescription makes it possible to give the prescription in the digital form. Due to the geolocation of the patient, doctors can send it to the nearest pharmacy.
- Dashboard with question queries, payments, appointments, and so on. This way the specialists can organize their work and make the necessary changes.
Another essential part is the admin dashboard. It should connect and facilitate the management of the patient and doctor functionalities.
Admin dashboard functionality:
- Patient management
- Doctor management
- Calendar and appointment management
- Notification management
- Payment management
How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Telemedicine App?
When things are clear with the business idea and MVP scope, the next step is figuring out the development costs. Everything depends on such aspects:
- technology stack
- per hour rate of a development team
One of the most efficient ways to build your app is to hire a development agency. This kind of application isn’t a novice. You can even see the app samples that are already live before choosing a team for your project.
What Are the Challenges of Telehealth App Development?
Every industry has some challenges during the realization of apps and software. In telemedicine, you will need to handle such roadblocks as
- UI/UX adoption. The layouts of the patient’s app and doctor’s app vary. So the two versions of the app have to be compatible with each other. You need an experienced designer to address this challenge properly.
- Back-end environment. You may think about integrating third-party services into your application. Start with studying their documentation to ensure that using them you won’t violate any privacy policies.
- Security. Encrypt personal and health data. Make sure you are also using the encryption protocols for the text, voice, and video chats.
- Compliance with health legislation. During your app development, you should be aware of regulatory standards. To be more specific: HIPAA and HITECH (for the US), PIPEDA (for Canada), GDPR, the Data Protection Directive 1995/46/EC and the e-Privacy Directive 2002/58/EC/ IEC 62304 (for European Union).
Are you intimidated by setting up developing your telemedicine app? Don’t be. Telehealth applications are on the rise now, as well as the whole niche. You know the key offers on the market and the competitors’ functionality. Also, you are aware of possible challenges and noted the spots your app can improve. So it is time to shape your idea into an app. Schedule a call with Apiko and we’ll help you to build a feasible and legally compliant telemedicine app.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I start to develop a healthcare app in 2020?
How are telemedicine apps divided by purpose?
The list of the most popular categories looks like this:
- Urgent Care (routes a patient to the nearest urgent care provider)
- Medical Scheduling (helps to schedule medical appointments)
- General Hospital
- Cancer Care/Outpatient
- Medication Tracking (helps to track prescription regime and avoid any medication conflicts)
- Women Health /Pregnancy/Childbirth
- Clinical & Diagnosis Assistant (enables access to personal health records, electronic charts, lab test results, the information about possible symptoms)
- Wellness and meditation (includes health trackers, wellness tips, meditation classes, and so on)