telemedicine app development guide
Illia PinchukIllia PinchukCEO
Business·Technology·Healthcare·

A compelling guide for telemedicine app development 

The vicious onslaught of the ruthless COVID-19 that we have recently survived has manifested the harsh truth: effectively combatting global challenges with old-school practices is impossible. Humankind must use the latest technological advancements to let its healthcare efforts live up to the imperatives of the current moment. And what is the high-tech device that reigns supreme in most areas today — from shopping and entertainment to work and studying? You are quite right — it is a smartphone. 

Seeing their ubiquity, organizations across all industries launch mobile apps that help them streamline their internal pipeline and reach out to their customers. The healthcare industry moves in the wake of this overall trend with a heavy emphasis on telemedicine development.  

Check out our telemedicine app development services.

A telemedicine app explained

The word “telemedicine” is the first element that can serve as a key to its correct interpretation. “Tele” is the Greek for “distant, far-off”; thus, the essence of telemedicine lies in creating an online communication and interaction channel between medical services providers and consumers in different places.  

What is the typical use case of telemedicine app development solutions? A person with some health problem contacts their physician via the application and voices their complaints. The doctor examines the patient via live camera streaming (or looks at the photos sent by the client), establishes the diagnosis, and outlines the way of treatment.  

However illustrative, this example doesn’t cover all aspects of the employment of telemedicine. In fact, such video calls are the core of rendering telehealth services that include sharing and analysis of medical data, monitoring therapy progress, convening clinical conferences where doctors can discuss diagnosing and the way of treatment, and other shop floor operations in the realm. Moreover, telemedicine software development can deliver specialized eHealth solutions instrumental in non-clinical use cases, such as training, education, administration, etc. 

The need for telehealth products became apparent about a decade ago when the shortage of specialists (which in the US alone can amount to 139,000 within ten years) and the urgency of service delivery called for immediate action. In 2017, an average American had to wait for 24 days to get an appointment with the doctor, and in some cities, this period amounted to an outrageous 51 days! And with the outbreak of Coronavirus, such terms are likely to have increased. Besides, the necessity of non-contact means of rendering healthcare services has turned into a top priority both for clients who wanted to minimize contamination risks and healthcare institutions that were overwhelmed by the deluge of patients while the plague continued to wreak universal havoc. 

Telemedicine app statistics

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Telemedicine app statistics

Given such high demand for eHealth solutions, it is no wonder that telemedicine carries the day among other digital initiatives in the medical field.   

Hospitals worldwide implement telemedicine products on a large scale, triggering a global market boom in this niche. If in 2019, the market was worth almost $50 billion, by the end of this year, it is expected to display an almost four-fold growth and reach an astounding $194 billion! Such breathtaking figures are the best proof of the fact that there are some weighty boons telehealth app development can bring to stakeholders in the domain. 

Benefits of telemedicine apps

There are two categories of people who find telehealth apps most useful.  What do patients get by embracing these IT products? 
 

Benefits of telemedicine apps

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Benefits of telemedicine apps

The perks of onboarding telemedicine apps for healthcare providers are also substantial, and sometimes they dovetail into the patient’s benefits. 

However weighty the listed benefits may be, telemedicine app developers should be aware of the pitfalls awaiting them on the eHealth solution implementation road.  

Challenges that telemedicine apps face

As a long-time expert in the field of healthcare products, DICEUS is well aware of the obstacles medical service providers can encounter when they embrace telemedicine apps.  

Culture and behavior  

It is not only about the routine of a standalone hospital but also about the sluggishness, reluctance, or even resistance endemic to such a conservative industry as healthcare. In this complex and even intricate realm, many processes are intertwined and path-dependent on other processes, so attempts to transform one of them trigger a chain reaction in other sectors. That is why initiators of digitally-driven changes will have to struggle against the status quo. 

The major factor that conditions the successful introduction of telemedicine into a clinic’s workflow is the universal buy-in of stakeholders. It should cover all doctors, nurses, lab assistants, other hospital medical personnel, healthcare facility administration, and even local and regional authorities in the field. In case any of these groups lack motivation, harnessing telemedicine will proceed by fits and starts or even bog down altogether. 

Awareness of patients 

If people don’t know about the existence of the telemedicine app or certain services it can provide, they will never request it. That is why doctors and hospital officials should advertise and propagate the solution and emphasize the perks it ushers in for health service consumers.  

Lack of technical skills 

This issue is symptomatic of both doctors and patients. Clinicians are easier to educate since the Medicare institution can launch a training program to teach them the ropes. Patients are harder to crack as they are people of different ages, backgrounds, and capabilities. Besides, a fair share of patients is seniors or mentally/physically impaired people, which turns mastering a high-tech innovation into a tough row to hoe for them.  

There are two possible ways to address this challenge. Firstly, hospitals should survey their customers to discover what devices they feel comfortable using and what functionalities they consider essential. Such feedback should be taken as guidance for developing the app. Secondly, the app should be user-friendly so that even non-tech-savvy people will find it easy to navigate and operate. It means a varied color scheme, large font size, straightforward layout, and no-frills UI/UX design. 

Security, privacy, and compliance 

These three factors are why hospitals don’t just use Skype to provide eHealth services. Medical and personal data are sensitive information that wrong-doers can exploit if compromised. Skype doesn’t require the encryption of any data (including health-related ones) and therefore is not HIPAA compliant, which increases the chances of medical records being tampered with or leaked. 

On the contrary, in line with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the security of the telemedicine app, the safety of the connection between devices, and the privacy of the data it gives access to are the top priorities that developers should bear in mind while creating the solution.  

Scalability 

Nowadays, software, hardware, and infrastructure gets obsolete very quickly. Besides, healthcare organizations and their practices are also prone to change and grow, posing a challenge for telemedicine app development. App creators must envisage such fluctuations and make provisions for the scalability potential and flexibility of the solution they are building. 

Third-party integrations 

Modern software never functions as a standalone product, and telemedicine solutions are no exception. They must play well with electronic health records, wearables, internal systems, and other digital assets. Thus, app developers should realize that they will have to build the telemedicine app into the existing digital environment and enable its seamless operation as a part of a larger ecosystem.  

Quality of video 

Since teledoctors establish diagnosis mostly by looking at their device’s screen, the quality of the picture on it is mission-critical. Naturally, it is the camera of the patient’s gadget that, to a greater degree, is responsible for it. Yet, live streaming can be negatively affected by bandwidth issues or weak code. So app developers should focus on mitigating such issues. 

Payment for services 

This is not a technical problem because integrating a payment gateway into the app is quite feasible. Rather, it is a legislative and procedural matter that should be addressed by administrations and lawmakers. They must ensure specialists are paid for online services and consultations at the same rate as in-person visits at home or in the medical facility. 

Evaluation 

Stakeholders who use a telehealth app should be able to assess its efficiency and the quality of remote services provided. Telemedicine app creators should equip it with evaluation tools to encourage user experience sharing and conduct feedback analysis. In this way, they will be able to identify unmet healthcare needs and fine-tune the app, aiming to optimize its performance and provide more patient-centered and personalized services.  

The number of challenges to address in the app creation and implementation process varies depending on the application type. 

Telemedicine app types

Basically, there are five categories of healthcare apps. 

telemedicine app types

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telemedicine app types

DICEUS as a seasoned vendor specializing in app development, can deliver digital products belonging to any of these categories.  

Telemedicine mobile apps 

Hospitals and medical facilities of any scale can draw extreme value from acquiring a dedicated telemedicine mobile app. Our range of telemedicine app development services can help you smooth out remote communication with patients or clients, closely monitor patients and send alerts when needed, and keep people connected with their doctors while instantly providing updates on their individual diagnostics and treatment.  

Custom EMR and EHR platforms 

Implementation of a tailored Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system streamlines the storage, organization, and management of crucial employee, administration, and facility data. A custom Electronic Health Records (EHR) solution complements your EMR by covering patient data as well, including registration details, clinical records, and personal history. As a result, you will eliminate tons of paperwork, securely store records, access data instantly from centralized storage, and easily share it for collaborative treatment and diagnostics. 

All-in-one clinical management systems 

Healthcare management is a complex task that calls for monitoring and collaboration across various departments within a healthcare facility. There’s also the challenge of handling files and patient management routines. To make things simpler, we offer telemedicine app development solutions that combine EMR, EHR, and other management capabilities. A custom system can be tailored to your specific workflow, providing tools and features to streamline your healthcare operations. 

Remote patient monitoring 

We can create powerful connected services with up-to-date telehealth software and tech that provide real-time monitoring. This is incredibly useful in healthcare for keeping tabs on patients’ health, particularly for critical or bedridden patients and those with disabilities. It allows quick responses in urgent situations like seizures, strokes, or heart failure. The software can even send reminders to patients, ensuring they take their medications on time and follow proper treatment measures. 

Cloud-based solutions 

Healthcare facilities generate massive amounts of sensitive data that need to be easily accessible and retrievable. A scalable storage solution is crucial to meet this demand without breaking the bank. This is where cloud-based storage or a custom cloud-powered platform comes in more than handy. With cloud-based telemedicine development, you pay only for the amount of data you store, and the storage capacity is virtually limitless, accommodating the growing volume of data without straining your budget. 

The type of telemedicine solution you plan to build conditions the roster of functionalities it should contain. 

Must-have features of telemedicine apps

When embarking on telehealth app creation, you should realize that you are going to commission two solutions rolled into one. It means that the application will have different sets of features leveraged by two user audiences – patients and doctors. Such capabilities lists can be customized to meet the needs of a particular medicare facility. However, there are some vital features that any telemedicine app should possess.  

What functionalities will guarantee a rewarding UX for patients? 

features of telemedicine apps

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features of telemedicine apps

The features that doctors can’t do without comprise:

The implementation of these features requires a corresponding set of technologies.  

Tech stack for telemedicine app development

Even before we delve into recommendations as to the know-how selection, we must mention the departure point – the choice of the operating system. Given the notorious Android/iOS divide, you should opt for either of them. If you want to maximize the user reach, you can develop two native apps for any device. Alternatively, you can go for cross-platform development and create a product that will blend the best of the two worlds. 

The technological toolkit for building telemedicine apps comprises the basic-level software employed for creating must-have functionalities as well as cutting-edge know-how to go advanced. 

The first group includes: 

If you want your app to stand out, take thought for enhancing it with state-of-the-art know-how. 

Now that you know what you need to develop a telemedicine app, it’s time to get down to its creation hammer and tongs.  

How to build a telemedicine app: A step-by-step roadmap

With numerous accomplished telemedicine app development projects, we at DICEUS have created a strategy for delivering such products.  

Step 1. Idea evaluation 

To avoid wasting time and money on a product that no one will buy, you should check your idea’s viability. It presupposes identifying the problem your solution will solve, conducting a thorough preliminary business analysis, gauging the demand for the future app, pinpointing the buyer persona and the target audience, researching the market and competition in the niche, and defining the unique value proposition of your telemedicine solution. Besides, you should closely examine the legislation in the telemedicine domain to ensure your app complies with all relevant regulations. 

Step 2. Choosing a monetization scheme 

Embarking on an app creation is pointless unless you envisage how your solution will make money. Among potential monetization options, the specifics of the healthcare industry limit your choice to the following three models. 

Step 3. Feature roster finalization 

When you complete all requirements gathering procedures and understand what type of app you want to build, determine the list of functionalities.  

Step 4. Tech stack and team selection 

Depending on functionalities, determine the platform, tools, frameworks, programming languages, and other software that will be employed for building them. Also, you must identify the experts who will tackle the task.  

A standard team for a medium-size telemedicine app includes a project manager, a business analyst, a DevOps engineer (in case you adhere to this approach to software development), a UI/UX designer, two frontend and two backend developers, and a QA specialist. If the scope of the project requires it, reinforce certain positions with an additional workforce.  

Step 5. Proof-of-concept creation and prototyping 

The PoC is developed to test the technical feasibility of the future app. Then, it is transformed into a prototype where an interactive UI (or a succession of clickable screens) presents the product’s appearance. 

Step 6. Building an MVP and collecting feedback 

This is the first fully functional version of the app. It contains only the essential functionalities and is submitted for trial usage by the test audience. Then, we analyze their feedback to see what they enjoyed about the product and – more importantly – what they didn’t. This information we use as guidelines for doctoring those elements of the app that underperform.  

Step 7. The core development 

The MVP is used as a skeleton to be amplified and upgraded until we have the finished product on our table with all its features, integrations, and APIs.  

Step 8. QA and testing 

You can’t deploy the app until the QA team runs dozens of tests to make sure it is secure, functions as expected, and has no bugs to hamstring its operation. 

Step 9. Deployment 

When the quality of the telemedicine app is verified, we place it in the app stores for users to download. 

Step 10. Support and maintenance 

We continue cooperation with the customer, introducing minor improvements, fixing issues, and consulting the owner on embracing the solution.  

Evidently, creating a high-end telemedicine solution is a non-nonsense task that only experts can do. Our developers have sufficient industry experience and command of a wide tech stack to deliver a telehealth solution of any size and complexity. Contact us to commission a telemedicine app that will impress you with seamless operation and affordable prices. 

Key takeaways

Recent high-tech advancements and the consequences of the global pandemic caused a spike in demand for telemedicine apps that serve as digital interaction channels for doctors and patients. Despite the challenges onboarding such products encounters, they promise numerous perks both to healthcare service providers and consumers.  

Telehealth applications bring maximum value to all stakeholders if IT specialists employ the proper strategy and tech stack. 

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