How to Develop a Telemedicine App in 2020 and Don’t Drop the Ball?
In the past few years, the telemedicine industry has brought a new revolution in the healthcare sector. The availability of telemedicine apps like PlushCare or MDLIVE makes medical services accessible to people.
The rapid growth in the number of people using these telemedicine apps have widened up the market for such apps. It is a prime reason that many technology companies are now considering the need for telemedicine app development.
This article will cover several benefits, costs, procedures, and how to develop a telemedicine app.
What Are Telemedicine Apps Benefits?
There are a plethora of benefits for using and developing software for Healthcare. Especially telemedicine apps both for doctors and patients. Some of the benefits are as below:
|Faster Solutions||These apps are of great use when a patient is suffering from minor health issues like cold or fever.
They can connect with the doctor with the mobile and get the right medicine in a couple of minutes.
This saves the time of travel and waiting in the doctor’s office.
|More Convenient||Providing convenience to the patients is the sole purpose of the telehealth application.
You do not have to waste your energy traveling while you are sick. You can call your doctor to get the right medicine. And that’s the main reasoning to start the development.
You get the official paperwork right on the app, saving your efforts to roam in the hospital to get it done.
|Easy Access to Specialists||The hospital in your town or the nearby area might not have all kinds of specialists available.
So you may have to go to a faraway location for getting the treatment done for some particular disease.
Using these apps, you get to consult any kind of specialist you wish to see.
And this is one of the crucial reasons for telehealth app to start development in 2020.
|Better Satisfaction||One of the biggest advantages of using telemedicine applications is that you get full satisfaction.
You can have a healthier conversation with the doctor and can clear all your doubts.
Most telemedicine apps give you a 24/7 service. So whenever a question arises in your mind, you can go to your account and get it cleared.
|Efficient Monitoring System||Telehealth applications should include an effective monitoring system.
Such software keeps the record for all medical history of the patient. Thus, it’s an important part of the development.
All the previous medical records are available by date, which helps the doctor to follow up.
|Extensive Patient Reach||As doctors, especially specialists, are not available in every corner of the country.
So the application helps the doctor to reach outlands and serve the patients there.
|Better Practice Efficiency||As the product holds the record for every little detail of the patient, it enhances the decision making of the doctor.
The doctor is able to serve more patients as the physical commutation of the patient is not there.
|Time-Saving||As the basic process in the software is automated, thus the doctor can save time on basic past related queries.
The app itself shares the data with the doctor at the start of the session.
All these features are a must for developing a telemedicine app, hence pay attention to these points while research how to make such kind of software. They provide the best UX and technical solutions to improve the value offer of a product.
Challenges in Telehealth App Development
Telemedicine app development is not a cakewalk and demands high expertise and plenty of time to get it done. The efficient development process always makes your own telemedicine app stay one step ahead of others. Some of the biggest challenges are as follows:
1. Implementation of UI/UX
Implementing the UI/UX requires creating an innovative app that can work well on all different platforms. The biggest challenge that telemedicine app developers face is to create an interface that meets the demand of all the sets of users.
For instance, what a doctor wants on the screen, might not be relevant for the patient. And vice versa. So here’s how a team of developers deal with it while making your own telemedicine application:
- When creating a telemedicine app, your team of developers needs to develop two versions of the app. One for the doctor and the other one for the patients.
- The version with the patient must have a different set of features and functionality than that of a doctor’s version.
- The compatibility and interface of both should be such that it is easier for the doctor and patient to use it.
So when a developer is comprehending how to develop a telemedicine app, the important thing they must consider is user experience and interaction with the application interface.
2. Backend Integration
Backend Integration ensures quick and successful data transfer from the patient’s end to the doctor’s end. Though the implementation of this process is a lot more challenging. Telemedicine app development requires the integration of many features in the app that must be HIPPA compliant.
Also, there are many third-party services developers need to include for the payment, locations, and other aspects. To install these in the telemedicine app:
- All the modules of HIPPA are studied and the features are designed in accordance.
- Your telemedicine app requires different technical solutions while integrating third-party services. Thus a well-organized API documentation to rush development is a must.
- Various frameworks and architectures are studied that can be used for the integration process.
- A set of protocols is defined that ensures the synchronization of data on both ends
To provide the right telemedicine app development solution, a good and robust backend process must be there. It helps to create a uniform data transaction between the doctor and patient.
An excellent telemedicine app development solution requires many features for its successful implementation. One challenge that most telemedicine app developers ignore is the scalability of the application.
As the app becomes popular, the demand and the user base takes an unexpected spike. If the development team isn’t ready to take such load and it becomes a challenge to cope up with the situation.
There is a way to upgrade your telemedicine app before:
- When the team starts making telehealth app, it is best to make sure they know to develop autoscale feature.
- It helps in automatically scaling the server resources as the demand rises.
- Manually analyzing the code and optimizing the poorly defined parts also helps to develop the database in a scalable way for a telehealth app.
- Server cloning of the application is a technique that creates a cluster of application servers that consist of the same codebase.
4. Compliance with Healthcare Authorities
One of the biggest challenges to develop a telemedicine app is making it compliant to HIPAA and GDPR.
There is a set of standards set by the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) to consider while making the app. These protocols aim at the protection of the medical records of a patient.
The biggest concern that developers face is embedding these rules with the features of your telemedicine app. Thus, HIPAA compliant app development includes:
- For HIPAA compliance, the login controls, monitoring process, and the storage of the data should all be synchronized.
- There should be no scope of data leakage or unauthorized access by any third parties.
- Tools like AWSCloudTrail and AWS CloudWatch used in telehealth app development helps in the successful implementation of these norms.
- SSL enabled endpoints, provide the best solution to secure the data in the transfer process.
The development is only complete when the data on your telehealth app is HIPPA compliant. It prevents data breaches and makes the data exchange more reliable. Furthermore, it provides the needed telemedicine app development solution.
5. Data Security
The security of the data is important. Most software stores their data and access it from the cloud servers. If the backend infrastructure is weak and lacks security, it won’t take much time for hackers to breach the data. And that’s the main reason why coders pay so much attention to database design during telemedicine app creation.
The most prominent challenges in providing security to the application are cross-site scripting. While broken authentication, session management, and exploitation of sensitive data are also tough. The backend team has to be experienced enough to know how to develop HIPAA compliant telemedicine app at the highest level of security.
So to provide better security in the telehealth app development process, the following aspects should be kept in mind:
- Only use tried and tested frameworks.
- The telemedicine app developers should ensure that the libraries and frameworks have the latest security updates.
- HIPAA compliance data storage like AWS (Amazon Web Services) that are trusted and reliable should be used.
Using the secure API frameworks and libraries, you ensure that your telemedicine app development process is safe and secure.
Key Features of Telehealth Apps
As told earlier, the telemedicine appliaction has two panels or versions of the app. So both these panels have different features according to their requirements. So down below are given the most crucial features of both versions of the telemedicine app.
Features for the Patient’s Panel
Let us look at the features that tell us how to develop a telemedicine app and make it into a success.
|User Profile||The user will register through their profiles.|
|Geolocation||For enlisting hospitals and pharmacies in your surroundings.|
|Medical Records||Maintaining your entire medical history.|
|Communication Ways||Doctors can connect through in-app chat, in-app calls, or video sessions.|
|Doctor Reviews||To check which doctor to consult.|
|Payment Gateways||For safe and secure fee transactions.|
Features for the Doctor’s Panel
|Doctor Profile||The doctor will register and provide their information.|
|Managing Appointments||To see and manage their appointment list.|
|Scheduling||To alter their schedule and availability.|
|Medical Records||For accessing the patient’s medical history.|
|Communication Medium||Connect with the patients with in-app chat, in-app calls, or video sessions.|
|Prescriptions||For prescribing the medicines to patients.|
|Payment Management||To manage the payment and account of the patient fees.|
How Telemedicine Apps Make Money?
There are several models that are required for how to develop a telemedicine app in order to generate revenue from the usage.
These models need to be thoroughly planned and strategized by the telemedicine app developers before they go ahead with the development process.
The basic way through which these apps earn a profit is through the fees. For instance, Doctor on Demand charges a fee of 25% from the patient for every successful appointment they make with the doctor.
The scalable business model is crucial for your product growth. Yet, the developers also should know what is your plan of monetization for a better technical design of your telemedicine app.
It is estimated that Doctor on Demand made a revenue of 12 million dollars in the previous year.
So to understand how to develop a telemedicine app and make money through it, let’s go ahead and study the models in detail.
One of the basic ways through which telemedicine apps make money is through the monthly or annual payment plans. The patient and the doctor both need to pay a certain amount of fee for using the software.
You can either create a membership plan on an annual or quarterly basis and give them discounts to enroll in them. This is a good way to ensure a more user base for your software program. It must be considered while you develop a telehealth app.
In-app advertisements are the best way to generate high profits from your application. Advertisements generate a good economy and as welll as a solution for the telemedicine app development.
Various advertisers are looking for presenting their ads on platforms with a large group of people. For that, they pay you a good deal of money. Yet, playing advertisements excessively results in losing the user base, so you need to keep it minimum.
The business development department must make sure on how to develop a scalable advertisement model for a telemedicine app.
Another way to earn money for the telemedicine apps is through references. Though this model will not pay you initially but can generate good value at later stages. As your product becomes popular, there will be more users and doctors wishing to join the app.
For every reference for a patient or a doctor to join the app through reference, a certain fee is charged.
The sole purpose of building a telehealth app is that you can get medical services without physically going to the hospital. This amazing concept has good workability across the globe. So to earn more from your app, you can distribute it overseas as a franchise.
SkyHealth, a well-known telemedicine application, does the same. It charges $3000 for selling its franchise to healthcare organizations.
The above-given models are the best way to ensure the right process for how to make a profitable healthcare software or telemedicine app.
How to Develop a Telemedicine App?
Building a telemedicine app requires good timing, right planning, and execution. Below given pointers will explain the steps of how to develop a telemedicine app.
1. Quotation from the App Developers
The foremost step for the telemedicine app development is the research for different app developers. There are millions of application developers in different parts of the world. All have their own expertise and price rates for the task.
Ones from the US region usually have high prices compared to that of ones in Ukraine, Philippines, or India.
So you need to search for different websites to find out the development companies and fill your requirements. This will help you get different quotations. You can then further discuss your project with the ones that fit your budget to develop a telemedicine app.
2. Discovery Phase
To provide the right telemedicine app development solution, the discovery phase plays a crucial role. This phase includes a series of steps. And starts with collecting and analyzing all the required information about the project.
It’s a fundamental stage of project planning. It gives a clarity on how to develop required features according to market and customer expectations of a telemedicine app.
With a detail-orientated research process, an SRS (System Requirements Specification) document is generated that consists of all the requirements of your application building. From features to resources to the interface, all things are covered in a simplistic and detailed form in this document that helps in telemedicine app development.
It is implemented by following the idea validation approach. It determines the challenges, complexities, and compatibility for the project based on various observations.
This phase can take from one week to a month depending upon the complexity you require in the application.
The development essentialities you will get in this phase for a telehealth app are:
- All the specifications required for telehealth app development.
- The project goals, technology stack needed for building it, architecture, and the features of the application.
- A digital interface prototype will be developed by the telemedicine app developers.
- It will show a basic design for the application you are aiming for.
- The discovery phase will also include the MVP, how to make plans, timeline requirements, and the total budget required for the telemedicine app.
The Discovery phase helps in eliminating the uncertainties of the project. As the execution of the process is deeply looked upon, thus the risk of missing the deadlines gets reduced by over 70%.
Also, the team gets an established road with a clear set of goals to work on. More importantly, this builds a great trust factor between the telemedicine app developers and the owners.
3. MVP Development
In this phase of the telehealth app development app is developed, and technologies that will make the app run are integrated with the app. The technologies and approaches used for how to develop a telemedicine app successful are:
|The User Profile and Login Design||The foremost thing to remember while building a telemedicine app is creating a user profile. The challenge in the development is that you need to build two panels for the profiles.
One is based on the doctor’s profile and another one for the user. Both should be compatible with different mobile devices and also should be HIPPA compliant.
|Database Design||Telemedicine app development has a huge requirement for the storage of data. From prescriptions to reports to the medical history of the patient, all are stored in a database. Thus, a reliable database platform caters to this need for the platform.
So the technology companies like MongoDB or Redis provide a platform integration with the software where you can store all your files.
However, it is not a fairly simple process. There are various sets of standards and norms that are to be considered for successfully implementing it.
So the telemedicine app developers use the SSL protocols for data exchange from the app to a database that keeps the data secure from hackers.
|Security Module||The biggest challenge for a developers team is fulfilling the security norms of the healthcare authorities for telemedicine apps. To ensure the app is HIPAA and GDPR compliant, and the patient data is secure, we use different encryption solutions like Laravel Encryption.
There are various protocols used that make the data of telemedicine apps safe from breaches and secure from hackers. So to develop such a platform that is efficient.
|High Load User Flow||There are several instances when the app is loaded with plenty of users that may lead to the crashing of the app on the server. So the developers of the telemedicine app foresee this problem and maintain the database with such efficiency using automatic scalability tools that this problem doesn’t arrive.
Each storage bit is stored in a way that when a high load of the user comes, the backup files are stacked below so that the required information can be generated quickly.
4. Tech Stack
|Type of technology||Our stack||Description|
|Backend Framework:||Laravel||Laravel is the best PHP framework. It has a very powerful environment with plenty of ready-made integrations. The main benefits are making routine tasks automated like routing, authentication, sessions, and caching.|
|Frontend Framework:||React, React Native||React and React Native is a technology that significantly decreases development efforts. It helps to scale the team faster. React-based apps are faster and smoother work. And they require less use of apparat memory.|
|Push Notifications and Phone or SMS Verification:||Twilio||It is a development-driven tool for communications. Software teams use APIs to add capabilities like voice, video and messaging. This enables your startup or company to provide a great experience for customers.|
|Payments:||PayPal, Stripe||Different payment gateways offer different terms of cooperation. Thus, this choice is based on particular requirements for a product. For example, PayPal doesn’t support some countries.|
|Database:||Hbase, MongoDB, Postgres, Cassandra||As well as with payment gateways, the choice of database and environment based on the particular requirements for the product. Because each of these tools provide their own benefits for a particular case.|
|Cloud Environment:||GoogleCloud or AWS|
5. Launch of the Application
The launch process is initiated once your project requirements get the desired telemedicine app development solution. However this is not the end of the projects and in a way, is just the beginning.
The best approach to make your application into a big success is following the Lean Startup Methodology. It aims at the approach of build, measure, and learn. It gives useful insights on how to develop the next features effectively for your own telemedicine app.
The following approach makes your application better and more productive.
- Once the MVP application is in the marketplace, the user feedback is collected.
- Analyze the given feedback and work on features that have negative reviews.
- Also, focus on the new features that are feeling missed by the users and make them with the high initial value.
- This will build more user engagement.
- Remember the application has made its way in the market so users will need appropriate tools for fast A/B testing.
- Add on new features within a month’s time so that the user keeps their interest in the app and does not move to some other app.
- Go back to step one and follow the same procedure to add more features for making the application more efficient.
All these steps ensure great efficiency while developing a telehealth application.
Cost of Telemedicine MVP Development
The cost of building a telemedicine app majorly depends upon the features that you need to insert in the app. The features determine the time taken for the app to build.
Also, it depends on the region from where you are hiring the developers. Developers from the US region usually have more hourly rates. The telemedicine app developers that are based in Ukraine, India, or the Philippines have much lower hourly rates.
To calculate the development cost of the telemedicine app, there is a basic formula: Time Taken for the App Development x Hourly Rate of the Developer.
Hourly Price of the Developers
A developer who is based in the US region takes anywhere between $150 – $250 per hour for the telemedicine app development.
Telemedicine app developers from the UK region have an average rate of $70 – $150 per hour.
A developer from Ukraine has an average rate of $30 – $50 per hour.
Developers based in the Indian subcontinent take an average hourly rate of $22 – 40. Yet, the quality of the code may be poor.
Let’s take Ukrainian development cost as a base for calculations.
So to build an MVP of the telemedicine app, it will take around 3 months and an average amount of $40,000 – $50,000. On the addition of more sophisticated features and the complete development of the app, it may take 6-9 months.
The overall cost for telehealth app development will start at $80 000.
SpdLoad Expertise in Building Telehealth Applications
Here, at SpdLoad, we focus on delivering the best quality products for Healthcare startups. We have a deep expertise in building HIPAA compliance applications. We know the following challenges and know how to beat them in an efficient way.
Let’s take a look at our case on developing the telemedicine app from scratch. The team composition includes:
- 1 Business Analyst
- 1 UX/UI designer
- 1 Backend developer
- 1 Frontend developer
- 1 Mobile developer
- 1 QA tester
- 1 Project Manager
And here is how we did it:
- The customer came to us without specific requirements. The task was to build a market-driven telemedicine application.
- The main challenge was to identify the target audience, find relevant pain points, and offer a valuable solution. Thus, we start the development:
- We start with an in-depth market analysis. We generated a set of hypotheses to check-in 3 fields: what pains are we gonna solve? Why would customers use our application instead of current solutions? How to make our offer better than existing?
- Afterward, we continue to work with design researches. It helped us to create customer personas and user journey maps. It was a start point to clearly offer the core values of our product.
- As a result of customer development, we created a customer and market-driven set of requirements to start an MVP development.
- The main technical challenge was to make the application HIPAA compliant. Yet, our expertise helped us to manage that part in 100 development hours.
There is an estimation of the MVP we built from scratch. It includes mobile app for patients and desktop one for doctors.
|Type of task||Time to implement|
The following MVP includes:
- Mobile application and web platform
- HIPAA Compliance
- Set of different roles: Patient, Doctor, and Administrator
- Integration of payment gateways
- Secure chat and video calls
This is the approximate time required for an MVP. However, it consists of only basic features that are a must in the app.
As we consider more complex features and technologies, the time taken gets increased. Also, the cost to develop the telemedicine app is rising.
Telemedicine app development is definitely not an easy project as it sounds, but the returns can be rewarding. The market trends show that the need for telemedicine apps is huge in the global market. So if you are willing to develop such an app, it is important to do thorough research first.
When all the concepts and challenges for developing the telemedicine app are clear to you, then you may go forward and start the action. Good Luck!