Is the healthcare industry observing a radical transformation in itself? Well, yes, it is! We would be surprised and happy at the same time if someone mentions that it is now possible to have a doctor-on-demand application! Doctor-on-demand, aka telemedicine application development aka mHealth app, is fascinating healthcare professionals and entrepreneurs across the globe. The prima facie of the telemedicine app development looks like it is about providing doctor consultation in an uncomplicated way to everyone. However, there is more to the news! Read this blog to find out more about telemedicine app development and its benefits.
Users admire “trendy & comfy” when it comes to on-demand applications. Telemedicine is one such term that has been around for years, but it took time for the audience to sink into it. An Australian doctor in 1900 used a two-way radio powered by a bicycle treadle for transmitting the medical advertisement.
Since then, the idea has been worked upon, radio sets were replaced by mobile phones and other devices, and communication was made more effective. Initially, telemedicine technology was a boon for people from rural areas who found it challenging to access hospitals. But today, the pandemic Coronavirus situation has compelled everyone to move towards it.
Even before the outbreak of Coronavirus, the telemedicine market was worth $45billion and is expected to grow 20% more by 2026. We are sure, the pandemic situation would hit this one large, and the numbers would rise in leaps and bounds.
Well, to add fuel to the fire, half of the US hospitals have telemedicine programs in place already. Hence, we can say, the healthcare industry is going to experience a big boom in the coming years, are you prepared for it?
In this article, we are going to discuss the following things.
What is a Telemedicine app?
How does the Telemedicine app work?
Benefits of Telemedicine App Development;
Features of Telemedicine App Development;
The business model for Telehealth apps;
Challenges of Telemedicine App;
Cost to develop a Telemedicine App
So let’s get started.
What is a Telemedicine App?
A Telemedicine app allows healthcare professionals to meet the modern demands of people. It simplifies the consultation process and will enable patients to be in touch with the doctors. Doctors who were required to rent a large space for consulting patients no longer would have to pay the hefty bills.
Telemedicine app converts everything online, including consultation to prescriptions. It is a powerful channel using which the healthcare professionals can serve the patients at the convenience of both.
Telemedicine app development has been utilized in various healthcare sectors which includes dermatology, psychological and behavioral health, cardiology, hypertension, and other chronic diseases.
Telemedicine applications are accessible to all and have facilitated patients to avail of doctor’s consultation without leaving their homes.
How does a Telemedicine app work?
The three main components of a telemedicine application are,
The Software component handles the electronic health records and keeps the patient connected with the system. The microphone is used for transmitting voice messages and cameras to observe the patient’s health.
Now the process of working of this app goes like,
The patient suffering from a particular disease, logs in to the system using the account;
The application asks the patient about the symptoms and based on that looks out for the nearest medical specialist;
Based on the search results, the patient schedules an appointment, be it a voice call or a video call;
The built-in calendar stores the date of appointment and notifies the patient about the schedule;
The patient logs into the system again at the scheduled time and consults the doctor over the video. The doctor examines the patient, asks health-related questions, assigns lab tests and prescribes medicines;
Once the consultation ends, the patient is redirected to the checkout page for making the payment. The final receipt is sent to the patient once the payment is completed.
Further, the telemedicine app development solution can be divided into the following.
Online video conferencing:
Many times patients know their symptoms but just need confirmation. During such scenarios, a patient prefers to book an online appointment with a doctor where the doctor diagnoses the patient using the application’s camera.
An easy way of connecting with the doctor is by texting them for any advice or change in the treatment. The patients who already have a treatment plan usually connect with the doctor via messages. If anything important or serious, then only they resort to voice calls. This feature of developing a telemedicine app becomes handy to the user as well as the patients.
As mentioned above, Telemedicine software development’s custom software is responsible for keeping up the healthcare records. The history is stored in the application, which can be referred by the doctors as and when required. Based on history, doctors can prescribe medication to the patient.
Benefits of Telemedicine App development:
Doctor-on-demand applications have the capacity to handle emergencies more effectively. The task of building a telemedicine platform is highly valued amongst both the doctors and the patients. Since the treatment is available on the go, a lot many severe problems can be cured at an early stage itself.
If we trust the research that says telemonitoring helped down in bringing the mortality rate among patients with chronic heart failure, we can understand the platform’s importance. Let’s look at the benefits of telemedicine services.
Constant availability of medical assistance:
People from distant and rural areas find it difficult to access a doctor or match with the appointment timings. You would be surprised to know that there are only 39.8 physicians per 100,000 people in rural areas. A telemedicine application in such remote regions allows people to have access to the doctor easily.
Using just a cellular network or a WiFi, people can connect with a doctor for treatment diagnosis. Also, if the app plans to serve people from various countries, then the patient can even connect to a foreign physician for consultation.
Medical professionals have to spend hundreds of thousands behind renting a space for providing healthcare services. It is definitely a profitable deal because the doctors do not have to spend another thousand behind maintaining the hospital. However, a telemedicine app service is independent of the space.
A registered doctor can consult the patient over the phone and prescribe the medicines. Additionally, the apps rating feature does marketing for the doctor. Doctors do not have to spend behind any form of advertisement; their ratings speak for themselves.
Specialized doctors to serve in the hospital can earn extra money after providing consultation during the off-hours. This way, they can serve more number of patients as compared to physical appointments.
At the same time, patients under long-term treatment do not have to travel back and forth to make the visit, which saves their time and money.
There are times when a patient is looking out for a specialist, but the appointment is unavailable for days. But, this would not be the situation if they use telemedicine applications.
A mHealth application connects the patient to a doctor instantly without wasting their hours/days in getting an appointment. The consultation follows a fixed schedule which has to be followed from both the ends (patient and doctors) and the diagnosis results are received.
Safe and secure medical record keeping:
The telemedicine app collects medical data from the patients and stores them safely. This stored data is easily accessible for authorized users and doctors. Doctors can find all the collected data in one place, saving a lot of time for the doctors and the staff.
Any changes in the EHR are notified to the user; however, the telemedicine app development company’s duty is to ensure that there is no breach in the system. A single mistake or a law violation can cost you millions of dollars.
Unified patient management and monitoring system:
All the processes, including consultation follow-ups, prescriptions, and monitoring of the treatment, are carried out in a defined manner irrespective of the treatment type. Telemedicine app development solutions make sure that all the patients registered with the app are treated equally and effectively.
Also, all the documentation tasks are automated; as a result, no doctor or staff has to spend extra time behind filling up the forms and other paperwork.
These are just some of the compelling benefits and convincing reasons why telemedicine app development has more than 7 million users across the globe in 2018 itself.
Now let’s shift our focus to the list of features a telemedicine app solution needs to have.
Having discussed all of the above information, you may ask us next. What are the features required to ensure telemedicine applications’ success?
Well, the answer is that a telemedicine app should have an app screen for doctors and an app screen for patients. We will single out each of them.
Patient’s side application:
Allow users to create an account by providing authentic and relevant information about their name, age, sex, insurance, and health condition. You can integrate social media API to allow them to register using social media accounts.
Profile set up:
A patient sets up his/her profile by entering necessary health details and some mandatory information. However, the on-demand app development company needs to make sure that the information is secured as well as accessible to the doctors, and the forms are kept short and precise.
Smart search and filters:
Using the smart filter, a patient can search the nearest doctor or find out a specialty doctor for the treatment. The filters can allow them to make a search query based on the specialty, proximity, language, ratings, and more.
Integrate in-app calendar API, which notifies the patient about their scheduled appointment and allows them to manage the appointments booked with the doctor. You can also sync it with Google Calendars using Google Calendar API.
Once the patient finds the doctor of choice, allow them to enable live communication with them at the scheduled time. Make sure that the video quality is of the highest level and adjustable according to the patient’s internet connection.
Also, consider developing an app that meets the HIPAA compliance requirements and keeps the app safe from cyber attacks. You can refer to our guide on how to make an app like 1 mg, where we considered every aspect, technical, and security while developing an application.
The most crucial factor of a telemedicine app solution is the Payment gateway page. After receiving satisfactory service from the doctor, the patient is directed to the payment page. And at this point, your app is being judged.
A secured and seamless checkout and payment process attracts maximum users. Ensure that you give them sufficient options to make payments using debit or credit cards. Integrate payment gateways like Stripe and PayPal to have high-speed transactions.
Reviews and Ratings:
Reviews and ratings left behind by the patient set up the trustworthiness of the doctor. A doctor with five stars is highly trustable and recommendable over the one with negative reviews or 1 star.
Allow the patients to write a comment or grade the doctors based on their service and efficiency. The doctor can also put down a grade or a review of the patient who makes false appointments or never shows up on time.
Any changes in the schedule or prescription should be notified to the patient via messages or emails. Push notification can be of great use when you wish to remind patients about the appointment or any app update.
Few other necessary features of a patient’s app are:
Medical history view;
Doctor’s side application:
Many features of a doctor’s side application would be similar to that of the patient’s side. Let’s have a closer look at the features.
A doctor’s after filling in the signup form logs into the application. Ask the basic details about their specialization, experience, treatment procedures, medical competencies, and more. All the information that you have collected should be relevant to the users.
After logging into the application, the doctor will land upon a customized dashboard containing information about patients, health records, drug prescriptions, etc.
Once the doctors log in the app, show them the list of appointments they have in their schedule. They can either accept or reject the appointment after going through the defined time slots and their availability. A doctor is free to reject a client who has 1 star or bad review.
Access to clinical records:
Allow the doctor to access their client’s medical records. However, since this database is sensitive to breaches, ensure that they can only view and not download the record. This measure is taken for the security purpose of critical data.
The communication channel between the doctor and the patient should be secured. The telemedicine app development should facilitate two-sided communication where a patient can text the doctor to ask about the treatment or update about the health condition. Also, the patient can ask about the appointment schedule and book the same through the appointment feature.
Report or prescription upload:
The doctor should be able to view the test reports or the prescription shared by the patient with them. All these data are sensitive, and hence you need to make sure that it meets the HIPAA and GDPR compliance.
Same as that of the patient’s side feature, allow the doctors to examine the patient using the video conferencing feature.
Integrate the app with the drugstore so that the doctors can explore the drugs and recommend the patient with the availability of specific drugs.
Review and Ratings:
Allow the doctor to rate a patient who misbehaves, breaks laws, or doesn’t show up on time consecutively.
Other relevant features of the doctor’s side application are:
Appointment statistics review;
Automated alerts and reminders;
Admin’s side app:
Admin’s panel is all about handling and managing the application content. And hence, it is almost similar in every on-demand application. Here is the list of features that you need to include in the admin panel.
Drug store management;
Reviews and ratings management;
Analytics and reporting;
So, how to initiate the telemedicine app development?
There are several stages of developing a telemedicine platform. The first step is by,
Evaluating the idea:
The first step towards any app development procedure is to evaluate if the idea is viable from future perspectives. Analyze the market conditions, your competitors, and strategy. A successful telemedicine application goes through various stages. It ensures that the app is able to meet the rising demands of customers. Highlight the customers’ pain points and try to provide a solution in the app.
Know the law:
Developing a telemedicine app is the most difficult thing to do. To authenticate your application, you need to comply with the various rules and regulations of the states and the government. The US, Europe, India, UAE may have different sets of rules to comply with. Hence, based on the country you are planning to launch your app in, understand the laws, and comply with it.
Research the trends:
It is your duty to monitor the changes in trends in the healthcare industry. In order to survive in the healthcare market, you need to address these trends in your application.
Find a development partner:
If you do not have an in-house team of developers, you can always hire mobile app developers or an agency to do the work for you. However, before finalizing the deal with them, ensure they are reliable, experienced, and charge within your budget. Ask for references, work folios, and price quotes from them. It is recommended if they have prior experience in developing an app for the healthcare industry.
A low fidelity prototype gives you a better picture of your future application. It helps you in understanding how specific buttons or navigation will perform within the application. You can know more about developing clickable prototypes and its benefits by contacting our expert team here.
A clickable prototype facilitates you to test your idea and improve at the early stage of development.
Technologies contributing to the Telemedicine App development:
The telemedicine app needs to include a variety of advanced features and hence uses various technologies that make the app better. We have mentioned a few of them below, have a look.
AI is helping developers to take the user experience to the next level. Doctors are able to process the language, provide assistance through chatbots, voice recognition with the aid of AI. A chatbot can answer various questions about the doctor’s schedule, competency, and specialization to the user in a jiffy.
Internet of Things:
IoT has highly influenced the healthcare industry. Smart devices based on IoT are being used in a number of ways, from monitoring heart rate, blood pressure, sugar levels, fitness tracking, stress level, and more. The wearables help doctors in monitoring the patient’s condition and get notified if any medical emergency arises.
A smart dispenser based on IoT, allows doctors to set a medicine schedule.
Blockchain technology allows the user to share clinical records with the doctors in an encrypted format. Since the data are sensitive and at risk of breaching, blockchain technology helps in distributing the data across networks securely.
It would be difficult to manage and organize a large set of data collected from the patient. By using Big Data, you can gather and evaluate the clinical records to conduct research to provide an accurate diagnosis.
Since you are developing an app from a long-term perspective, you should analyze that it is going to collect a lot of data. This data needs to be stored on the on-premise server, or you can opt for cloud storage. Cloud storage is a more convenient and safe option for storing large amounts of data for years.
The business model of Telemedicine app development:
Telemedicine app development is indeed for a noble cause, but nothing can last without money. There are various monetizing ways for this platform, which we have discussed below.
Keep the basic services free of cost and additional features under the premium model. Include compelling perks like an instant appointment, discounts, in-app messaging, etc. for subscribing to the premium model.
You can generate maximum revenue by adopting this monetizing way. Charge a specific amount of your share on every transaction made between the doctor and the patient. A few examples of telemedicine apps that have adopted this business model are Teladoc, Amwell, and Babylon Health.
We understand that too many advertisements on the platform might frustrate the user, but an optimized and limited advertisement won’t. Allow marketers from other platforms to advertise their products on your platform.
List of popular telemedicine apps across the globe:
Many doctors and entrepreneurs have realized the importance of benefits they can reap by developing a telemedicine app. We have mentioned some of the best performing apps from the industry.
Companies performing brilliantly in,
The US: Teladoc, Amwell, Doxy.me
Europe: Maple, Wello, iTelemed
Western Europe: Aerotal, Babylon Health, Push Doctor
Few others on the list are Medici, Doctor-on-demand, MDLIVE, Doctor, Coviu, and MeeDoc.
Challenges of Telemedicine App:
Telemedicine app development is rewarding, as well as challenging. Take the following challenges into consideration while you initiate the process of app development.
Rather than paying a large amount of around $1,500,000 per year, it is better to comply with the HIPAA. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was laid down to secure and protect sensitive data shared over platforms from any fraud and theft.
Hence acknowledge yourself with each of the 155 pages of the act and then initiate the development.
Key takeaways of HIPAA compliance are:
Keep the access of the app under control;
Use encrypted algorithms;
Backup all the sensitive data;
Log-off users automatically;
Use secured connections;
Security of the patient’s personal data is of highest concern when it comes to telemedicine app development. You need to ensure that complete protection is provided while the patient shares the doctors’ clinical record. Conduct security self-assessments regularly to check if the app is at risk of any theft.
Videos are “the” thing of online consultation. A high video quality allows doctors to diagnose the patient perfectly and suggest medication based on that. Poor code or bandwidth issues often lead to poor video quality. Hence, ensure that you have a code that supports high video quality.
Lack of trust:
Video conferencing for treatment isn’t going to be as convincing as the conventional methods. Patients are going to doubt the treatment unless they observe satisfactory results. No doubt, people have resorted to online telemedicine applications, but it will take time for people to trust these apps adequately.