What is Telemedicine and How Does It Work?Telemedicine is a modern approach to providing health services, which involves using digital technologies to connect healthcare workers and patients, and remotely deliver evaluation, diagnosis, consultation, and treatment. In other words, it is a tech-based alternative to in-person medical checkups, hospital stays, and other medical operations. Sometimes, it is also called telehealth. Mobile applications have been a mainstay of telemedicine for decades, but current trends have shifted towards immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality. Furthermore, machine learning and artificial intelligence are boosting or replacing many of the tasks traditionally handled by medical professionals. Patients are eagerly flocking to such solutions as a convenient alternative to waiting in queues in hospitals or settling for inferior care when their chosen specialist is not available.
Benefits of Telemedicine for Patients and Medical StaffHospitals and businesses that take this approach to providing care stand to benefit in many ways, and the same can be said for their patients. Some of the benefits include:
Care is remotely accessibleConvenience is a top priority of the modern consumer, and many patients prefer to have their medical needs met remotely for the same reason they might prefer to send a text message instead of calling someone. It’s just easier. Furthermore, many patients have difficulty moving around, so getting care at home spares them pain and hassle.
Lower costs for doctors and patientsObviously, this approach allows everyone to save time that would have been spent preparing for and getting to an appointment, but costs are also saved. For example, app users will typically have lower fees than they would incur by going to a hospital, while doctors and other staff can help more people in a shorter amount of time.
Simplified communicationThough nothing digital will replace the value of a real doctor’s appointment, most situations faced by users do not warrant driving to a hospital. For instance, they can just use an app to get a quick reply to their question or hop on a video call for a more nuanced discussion. Similarly, medical staff has an easier time, as they can quickly deal with simple cases and devote more time to pressing cases.
Easy data managementWhen built correctly, apps can collect and provide a wide range of user data. Thus, those being treated can find comprehensive information about their health history, view how their treatment is progressing, while nurses, doctors, receptionists, and other specialists can use the same app to quickly access user files, monitor progress, and view helpful analytics.
No risk of infectionsMany people have negative associations with hospitals, thinking of them as places of illness and infection. The Covid pandemic has further shaken people’s confidence in visiting hospitals, so apps and remote treatment are a welcome alternative. They are not placed at risk of infection and get to experience the same level of support with peace of mind.
Main Challenges of Telemedicine for Your BusinessThough telehealth solutions are popping up left and right these days, this approach is still going through growing pains and challenges that should be overcome by app developers and medical providers. These challenges include:
Complying with regulationModern apps and websites are subjected to great scrutiny in regards to the data they collect about users, and the scrutiny is even greater on the medical level. For example, the U.S. has strict regulations (HIPAA) that establish the ways that medical providers are allowed to use and share patient data, while the European Union countries have GDPR. Creating applications that comply with these laws while delivering the services users expect is not easy, but certainly possible.
Transitioning to digitalFor doctors and healthcare workers used to working with paper records and face-to-face communication, switching to digital and mobile forms of communication and work can be jarring. Some patients may also have difficulty adapting to the new approach, especially if they are elderly and are not confident users of mobile/immersive technology.
Making the design clearTo take advantage of the benefits offered by innovative applications, users obviously need to understand how to use them properly. If they are presented with dozens of options at once without a description or instructions to use them, they will just be confused and may refuse to work with this provider again. That is why it is crucial to design the relevant applications with a clear and intuitive interface, as well as provide guidance about how to use them properly.
Finding good developersIt is supremely important to find qualified developers that will build a fully-functioning and highly-secure telehealth application. The process usually takes months, and even years if you don’t have a large team working on the project. Some apps, such as VR and AR require additional knowledge and experience to build that few devs can boast about. With these challenges, many businesses opt to find a healthcare development partner, as they will typically provide a full team knowledgeable in the subject matter.
The Role of Immersive Tech in TelemedicineThe term “immersive tech” usually applies to the three big extended reality technologies – AR, VR, and MR. In addition, there is one more new solution called Metaverse that is a real game-changer in the healthcare sector. Each of them brings unique benefits to telehealth software apart from immersing users in virtual experiences. Let’s take a closer look: We have listed just a few of the many use cases of AR and MR in healthcare. Though most companies that develop apps for the health industry have not yet made immersive tech their expertise, Program-Ace is one of the few highly-qualified providers in this field. We have extensive experience in VR healthcare app development and know how to competently connect patients, medical staff, and electronic care systems.
Popular Functionality and Features of Telemedicine AppsThere are practically no limits to what you can add to your telemedicine app, as long as you have the right knowledge and expertise to implement the features, and the platform permits it. Below are some of the features and functionality that Program-Ace can implement in such apps.
Telemedicine app features for doctors
- Health record access (examine digital copies of patient records and charts)
- Billing system (track and receive payment for services rendered)
- Remote health monitoring (keep tabs on patients and their health)
- Instant analytics (access the latest data from a patient or operation)
- Video/audio recordings (review previous communications with patients or staff)
- Integration with pharmacies (quickly check availability and write prescriptions)
Telemedicine app features for patients
- Gamified tasks (make daily therapy fun and engaging)
- Chat with a specialist (connect to a doctor or nurse via messaging)
- Virtual assistant (receive tailored suggestions and recommendations for health situations)
- Appointment scheduling (book appointments with doctors and specialists)
- Knowledgebase (access up-to-date information about all things medical)
- Prescription tracking (ensuring medicine is taken regularly)
How to Build a Telemedicine PlatformOnce you make the decision to set up a telemedicine program, you will have a long road ahead of you, though some choices can make it easier and speed up development time by a high factor.
Stages of telemedicine app developmentThe very first thing you should do in the process is figure out which business goals your application will fulfill. Will it be used solely for communication between patients and/or medical specialists, or will there be more elaborate purposes like health monitoring, assisted therapy, booking of services and appointments, etc. With these goals in mind, you can begin establishing the tech stack (choose the platform that the software will run on and the development tools), determine hardware and talent needs, and gather all the specialists and resources needed to begin development. Many companies choose to begin by creating a prototype (or MVP) just to make sure that their idea can be transformed into something functional, before fully diving into development and design. At this point, developers and designers will continue bringing the application to life, and QA engineers test it and recommend improvements until everything is polished and ready for release.
How much does telemedicine cost to develop?Most applications of this type cost at least $100K to build, with the most basic ones costing at least $50K. The bulk of your costs will go into paying the salaries of your team and covering hardware/software costs. In the end, the functionality that you choose for your app will be the biggest factor influencing cost and development time – the more complex the features, the more resources it will take to implement them.
Will it be more cost-effective to outsource telemedicine development?Absolutely. With a partner like Program-Ace by your side, you get access to a large team of specialists that you can keep for just the duration of the project, and the costs involved will be lower than hiring locally as our company offers competitive rates much lower than those standard in North America/Europe. You will not need to go through the hassle of development we described above, and can just oversee the project, investing minimal time.
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What are the Best Telemedicine Apps?With hundreds of telemedicine apps already in existence and many more on the way, it’s hard to name a leader. After all, each is designed for its own purposes and has different features. Still, we can bring up some prominent examples:
Your next appHave you got an idea for a telemedicine app? Program-Ace can help make it a reality, and you might just see it featured on top lists in short order.
Let’s discuss your idea! Contact us about it today.