For decades, the healthcare industry has always been the last industry to catch app with technology. However, with the advent of the pandemic, this is now history. Serving as a wake-up call, the pandemic dramatically triggered the shift of the healthcare industry to telemedicine platform development at rates previously anticipated to take years.
Today eHealth services have shifted from being nice-to-have to a must-have. According to the American Medical Association and American Wellness Council report, “nearly 75% of all doctor, urgent care, and ER visits are either unnecessary or could be handled safely and effectively over the phone or video.”
This realization has given rise to the wide adoption of telemedicine, with many healthcare facilities embracing the development of telemedicine mobile apps. According to a Grand View Research report, as of 2020, the telemedicine market size had an estimated value of USD 55.9 billion and is expected to hit USD 298.9 billion by 2028.
The American Hospital Association also reports that 76% of U.S hospitals already have a telehealth program to connect patients with medical practitioners. Also, with more than 90% of hospital executives confirming their organizations already have or are developing a telehealth mobile app, there is no better time to consider telemedicine software development for your organization.
At Appvales, we have helped several companies develop complex software products, telemedicine app included. We have a track record of implementing secure and regulatory compliant mobile applications and other technologies for healthcare providers. With a pool of talented telehealth software developers, you can rest assured of an application tailored-made to the needs of your facility.
U.S telemedicine market size forecast (2014-2025) Statista.
There are enormous benefits of adopting and implementing this healthcare delivery model. This article will explain these benefits, showing you how to develop a telemedicine app for your organization, and the features you should include. Also, it will outline the necessary regulatory standards your app should comply with, the cost of telemedicine software development, and why you should trust Appvales to create one for your organization.
Table of Contents
Benefits of Telemedicine App
Telemedicine applications offer a myriad of benefits to doctors and patients alike.
Let us dive into details.
Benefits to Patients
- Increased Access to Healthcare
Telemedicine allows a greater number of people to access quality healthcare services with less trouble from anywhere at any time, so long as you have an internet connection. This is particularly important to people with more healthcare needs who may find it difficult to access care, such as older adults and people with disabilities.
Also, telemedicine development and its growing acceptance have leveled the playing field and eliminated major roadblocks in accessing care. Now, people in remote areas with few or no medical practitioners can access quality care without having to wait or travel long hours to see a doctor.
As a result of this increase in access to healthcare, the quality of care patients receive has also improved. For example, research shows that telemedicine patients had fewer hospital admissions and readmissions. Also, they are more likely to spend fewer days in hospitals, a fact that leads us to the next point.
- Reduced Cost of Healthcare
Telemedicine is significantly less expensive compared to in-person appointments. One study revealed that patients could save between $19 to $120 by utilizing telemedicine visits; reduced healthcare cost benefits that even patients using their medical insurance covers can leverage. For instance, many in-person appointments may not require further testing, follow-ups, or prescriptions, significantly bringing down their healthcare expenses.
- Reduced Exposure to Pathogens
Telemedicine has reduced the spread of infectious diseases in hospitals. Undoubtedly, waiting long hours to see a doctor increases patients’ chances of contracting, for instance, Covid-19 and other illnesses. However, through telehealth, patients can enjoy medical help from the comfort of their homes, minimizing their risk of exposure to pathogens. In the process, healthcare service providers also remain safe.
- Improves Direct Communication
One major complaint among patients is the limited fact-time they get to speak with their healthcare providers. This is a challenge because patients may have follow-up questions or need to give feedback about new medications that don’t necessarily require scheduling an appointment with a doctor.
The adoption of telehealth mobile apps has made communications between patients and healthcare professionals easier and direct without the need for follow-up visits. This, in turn, helps patients save time and minimize healthcare costs.
- Improved Mental Health Outcome
Telemedicine has had an enormous impact on mental health care for patients. This is because, oftentimes, mental healthcare does not require physical examination as talk therapy, paper-based assessment, or medication management would suffice.
Currently, studies have revealed the effectiveness of telemedicine in diagnosing and assessing mental health patients. It also shows it can be useful as a stand-alone option or to augment in-person visits.
Benefits to Doctors
Doctors and medical professionals also have a lot to benefit from telemedicine app development solutions. Let’s dig deeper into some of these benefits.
- More Flexibility in Service Delivery
Telehealth allows doctors to schedule appointments with their patients from any location and at a time convenient to both of them. In addition, it enables doctors to work remotely or attend to patients outside work hours, especially during emergencies. As a result, this technology has helped medical practitioners improve and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Increased Revenue
Telehealth visits make it possible for doctors to see more patients in a given period compared to in-person visits. As a result, doctors can bill more patients within the same period for services rendered, which represents an increase in their revenue earnings. Also, it eliminates the need to increase office staff and spaces, thereby cutting overhead costs significantly.
- Reduced No-shows and Last Minute Cancellations
No-shows and last-minute cancellations drain profits and waste doctors’ time. Of course, these can have legitimate causes like transport issues, the need to be at work, or lack of access to child care. However, a telehealth service option can reduce these occurrences by allowing patients to schedule appointments at a time of their convenience as well as reschedule or cancel appointments earlier on.
- Improved Workflows and Practice Efficiency
Telehealth helps to capture, store and process patient data for prioritization and better decision making. This helps to improve workflow efficiency and practice performance. Also, it can improve patient satisfaction scores.
- Increased Patient Retention and Referral Rate
Since telehealth allows doctors to see their patients from any location, it increases patient retention even if the patient or doctor relocates. This ensures there is no loss in revenue earnings. It can also improve patient satisfaction and chances of referrals.
Challenges in Telemedicine App Development
Having outlined some of the benefits of telehealth to patients and doctors, let us consider some common challenges in developing an advanced telemedicine app.
- Data Security
The question of data security is undoubtedly the most important question healthcare service providers ask telemedicine app developers. Also, patients want to know how the app will store their personal information and how secure their information will be. To ensure the protection of patient data, developers should use trusted and proven app development frameworks with advanced security architecture to store data.
- Regulatory Compliance
Regulatory bodies have standard security measures and benchmarks that organizations dealing with client’s sensitive personal information must follow. These regulations include but are not limited to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the United States, Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in Canada, Data Protection Directive 1995/46/EC, and the e-Privacy Directive 2002/58/EC, IEC 62304 standard in Europe.
To meet these international data security standards, you need to engage a competent and trusted telemedicine app development company like Appvales. We have a track record of developing, deploying, and implementing international data security compliant mobile apps for healthcare providers across Europe and the U.S.
We will implement a multi-factor authentication or biometric identification, and high-end encryption protocols ensure patient data security and prevent a cybersecurity breach.
- Video Quality
Telehealth services require the use of real-time video calls to provide care to patients. This could be challenging because of the disparity in the quality of patient devices and internet connections. Therefore, it is important to consider these factors in the development process to ensure you provide images with resolutions and quality videos to all app users.
- Implementing UI/UX
The app’s user interface is of the utmost importance. As such, developers should ensure they integrate telemedicine app features in a way that they function flawlessly on different devices and platforms. App developers must also ensure that all elements on both sides of the app function as one unit and that the style is uniform on both sides. That way, it improves the user experience.
- Backend Integration
A good backend will ensure a seamless data exchange process between the patient and doctor’s app. Although it sounds easy, it is much more complicated to implement because it requires integrating other third-party services like payment methods, location, and more. All these also have to comply with regulatory standards. In addition, this process requires a set of protocols that will ensure an efficient synchronization of data from both ends of the app.
In developing a telemedicine app, consideration should be given to the number of users and expected rise in demand. If you overlook this aspect, the app may not cope with multiple users in peak periods. Also, the app should support the scaling of its server resources to meet the rise in demand.
Key Features of Telemedicine App
Now, let us consider some must-have telemedicine software features you should insist a developer integrates into your app. These features will enhance the functionality of the app and improve the user experience.
Patients should be able to set up their profiles and other health records in the dashboard. This would include basic information like their names, age, sex, location, medical history, prescriptions, insurance details, etc. This makes it easier for a doctor to give an accurate diagnosis after going through the patient’s records. Also, doctors should be able to enter their names, specialty, and experience in their dashboards, making it easier for patients to choose the right doctor for consultations.
Patient Web/Mobile Panel
This panel lists out the different doctor’s services and health conditions they treat. It also has a form for patients to schedule an appointment with a particular doctor.
Audio and video conferencing features can help doctors accurately diagnose a patient’s condition with visual cues. One of the major reasons telehealth has reduced in-person visits is because doctors get to see their patients as they would during physical visits. Also, the app should support screen sharing, group calls, and video recording for quality assurance purposes.
Sometimes, patients’ cases may be minor and wouldn’t require video consultation. In such cases, patients should be able to ask doctors questions and get their responses via the app’s messaging feature with ease.
A good telehealth app should integrate calendar features, making it easy for patients and doctors to book appointments. With this feature, doctors can easily view their available slots, confirm when their next appointment with a patient is due, and view patients’ appointment requests.
Electronic Medical Records (EMR)
Telehealth software should be able to generate patient’s records, logs, and transcripts of their consultations with other doctors especially in cases of a transfer. On the other end, doctors should be able to access these records once a patient schedules an appointment with them. As such, the electronic medical records feature can facilitate accurate diagnosis and quality service delivery.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
Telemedicine apps should also incorporate remote patient monitoring features to help patients with conditions that require self-monitoring. This feature can help physicians track patient symptoms and their rehab process. It also helps doctors detect health deterioration early, which can reduce emergency admissions and the duration of hospitalization.
Symptom checkers can help patients easily diagnose illnesses early. By imputing signs they are experiencing into the calculator, the app’s algorithm will calculate a range of conditions that fit their current health issues. This reduces the need for consultations over minor issues so doctors can concentrate on patients with more severe health needs.
Prescription and Medication Tracker
Medication nonadherence causes an estimated 125,000 avoidable deaths each year and $100 billion in preventable healthcare costs, according to a report by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) U.S. This staggering statistic is the reason why a prescription and medication tracker should be among the essential features of telemedicine apps. This feature will prompt patients to pick up their medications at a pharmacy and can improve their adherence to medications.
In-app payment modes make it easy for patients to pay for health services they receive with a few clicks. It should include the various modes of acceptable payment by the healthcare provider, which include cash, credit cards, insurance, employer, or coupons.
Notifications can help patients and doctors in many ways. For example, it can remind patients of their appointments and remind them to refill their prescriptions or take their medications. It also notifies doctors when a patient schedules an appointment and when the time is due.
Telemedicine App Development Steps
Now, let’s turn our attention to how to build a telemedicine system or application that is scalable, user-friendly, and secure. The following are the steps in the app development process:
Choosing the platform (Web, mobile, or both)
Now, you know all the benefits of implementing a telehealth system and are set to develop one for your organization. You have seen the growing acceptance of this trend and want to hop right on it, so your organization is not left behind in a competitive market. Now is the time to choose the platform for your app. Would it be a web or mobile application? If mobile, would it be Android, IOS, or both?
Choosing the right platform depends on how well you know your target audience and the region you are targeting. For example, most Americans use IOS smartphones. Therefore, if your target audience is American users, you need to build an IOS app.
Also, does your audience prefer mobile apps, web-based applications, or both? A younger target group may incline towards mobile, while an older target group may tend towards web applications. However, for a health facility, choosing both platforms would be an advantage since they are both target audiences.
Choosing tech stack
A tech stack is a combination of programming languages, software, and tools needed to develop a mobile or web app. Choosing the right tech stack depends on your app needs and goals. No two apps are the same.
If you want your app to be scalable, work on different platforms, and guarantee the security of patient data, you need to choose the best combination of programming tools. Here, you need the advice of a competent and experienced software development company like Appvales to outline the different tools and their benefits, costs, and timeline for implementing them.
You must give careful thought to the UI/UX design of the app so it can attract and retain more users. This process is critical to developing a user-friendly app that works well on different devices. Users are first drawn to your app by its design before they check out its functionalities. Remember, many other apps are offering the same service to your target audience. So, your goal should be to develop an app that entices users and engages them for as long as possible. Doing so improves patient satisfaction and increases the chances of getting referrals.
This is where the programmers begin to work with the outlined tech stack and design template. At this phase, they create the front-end of the app, also known as the user-end. This involves using the different tools and techniques to create a face of the app where users can interact directly and navigate easily.
The developers integrate the front-end with the back-end where data is stored, processed, and retrieved when needed. The needs of the app, goals, and tech stack to be used will determine the duration of the development process.
Now, after developing the app, it is time to test it for quality assurance. A team of app testers and QA managers will carry the following test:
- Run the app on different devices and screen sizes to see how it looks and performs during compatibility and responsiveness testing.
- Check the navigation and menu button performance during the interface testing.
- Examination of how the app runs on low battery and slow internet connections.
- Conduct security testing to ensure the safety of sensitive data.
- Then conduct a preliminary focus-group examination of the app for feedback on the app’s design and performance.
After developing your telemedicine app, it is time to launch it on Google Playstore or iOS App Store. Before doing this, you need to ensure your app meets the requirements of these app stores.
How Much Does A Telemedicine App Cost?
So, how much does it cost to develop a telemedicine app?
Again, this depends on the needs, goals, and tech stack requirements of the app.
However, approximately, the cost of developing an advanced telemedicine app ranges from at least $100 000 and can go as high as $200 000. However, you can get a minimum viable product (MVP) built for around $50 000. Contact us for an MVP quotation here.
Appvales Can Build A Telemedicine App For You
Appvales is a software development company with a track record of successfully designing, developing, and deploying regulatory-compliant mobile and web applications. 75% of our engineers are senior and mid-level developers with an average of 5 years experience in software development. Also, 85% of our projects have grown into long-term cooperation, with 90% of our clients ready to recommend us.
Our tech stack includes React Native, which we use for cross-platform app development. Others include Swift, Flutter, Java, Kotlin, Objective-C, Python, Node, JS, AWS, GCP, Azure, and Firebase.
Our top-notch services have helped our clients in the healthcare industry reach their business goals on Android and IOS platforms and achieve faster time-to-market. Contact us to help you develop a robust, secure, and high-performing telemedicine app for your organization today.