Telehealth App Development: How to develop a Telehealth App?

Today, you can get anything on demand, from taxis to food, personal tutors and even doctors. While the first three services have been popular for some time, on-demand doctor consultations came into the picture not so long ago. Telemedicine app development has drawn lots of interest from doctors, hospitals, clinics and patients.

According to a report by MarketWatch, the US telemedicine market saw revenue of around $11.8 billion. 50% of the hospitals in the US use telemedicine programs, but it has now also become interesting for private medical practices, healthcare systems, entrepreneurs, healthcare systems, and insurance companies.

A survey by Mordor Intelligence says that global IT healthcare is expected to reach $20 billion by 2020. Telemedicine accounts for one-quarter of this market. What is the reason that the telemedicine app development has experienced such significant inflation?

In this article, we shall discuss:

What is Telehealth App?

Telehealth application brings healthcare providers and patients closer in a digital environment and enhances access to care. It helps patients to interact with physicians from anywhere and anytime. In contrast, physicians can assess, diagnose and treat patients for a wide range of appointment types, including follow-up routines and consultations.

Three minutes is the average time a patient waits to connect with a doctor using a telehealth application. Therefore, patients don’t need to sit in waiting rooms for hours to get a consultation from the doctor.

Telehealth Apps can be of different types, including:

  • Real-time Interaction
    Healthcare providers and patients can interact in real-time with the help of video conferencing. The telehealth app for real-time interactions allows both patients and doctors to see and hear each other.
  • Remote Monitoring
    Telehealth applications can also be used for the management of patients at high risk and allow healthcare professionals to monitor the patient’s activities and signs remotely via wearable devices and IoT-enabled health sensors.
  • Store-and-forward
    Store-and-forward telemedicine apps allow healthcare providers to share patient’s medical information, including blood tests, lab reports, videos and imaging studies with a radiologist, physician or any other specialist.

Why is Telemedicine App Development gaining a lot of traction?

  • Convenience
    Booking appointments in advance, driving to a hospital and waiting in a long queue is not a convenient approach to get assistance from doctors. A study by Cisco says that 74% of patients prefer access to telehealth services over in-person interactions with healthcare providers.

    Using a telemedicine app, patients don’t need to wait in long queues to visit different specialists. Instead, they can schedule a remote appointment with a doctor and connect at the earliest convenience. It helps in starting the necessary treatment quickly and effectively.

  • Medical Record Keeping
    Telemedicine apps make it possible for doctors and patients to view patients’ medical records quickly. It overcomes the interoperability problem by allowing various doctors to get access to the patient’s previous records quickly. As a result, doctors can treat patients in a much better way by looking at their historical medical records.

    Also, patients can share their medical records with family members, friends and doctors. They no more need to keep paper-based medical files or reports in their lockers or drawers.

  • Time Management of Healthcare Specialists
    With telemedicine app, healthcare providers can organize their tasks more effectively. Since doctors can treat patients and provide consultation from the comfort of their home or office, they will be able to consult more patients at once. Telemedicine software solutions can provide a better life-work balance to doctors.
  • Unified Patient Monitoring and Management System
    Telemedicine apps can help patients with updates to prescriptions, follow up consultations, chronic disease monitoring and more.

How to ensure HIPAA Compliance for Telehealth Video Conferencing?

When it comes to providing patient-centric care, real-time video communication holds vast potential in enabling healthcare systems to maximize efficiency, enhance clinical outcomes and extend the reach. 

Telemedicine video conferencing involves the digital exchange of personal health records protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 

Since HIPAA adheres to security and privacy rules, it requires healthcare providers to take essential steps to maintain integrity and ensure confidentiality and security of electronically protected health information. (ePHI).   

Data breaches in a video conferencing platform have resulted in concerns over security and privacy. Penalties for HIPAA non-compliance can be expensive, reaching $250,000 for a violation. HIPAA non-compliance can damage the reputation and affect the patient’s trust, leading to decreased patient outcomes. 

To adopt telemedicine video conferencing solutions successfully, it is essential to meet HIPAA compliance requirements. 

Following are some of the factors that we consider when building HIPAA compliant telemedicine video conferencing solution:

  • Entity or Person Authentication
    Strong authentication is a backbone of any security mechanism used to verify that an entity or person is authentic and is actually what they claim to be before providing access to ePHI. Matching passwords is also one of the most common ways of establishing authentication and adds a layer of security to video conferencing software by preventing hackers from accessing confidential data and blocking cyberattacks. However, this method has become quite weaker due to the emergence of advanced technologies. 

    The secure method of authentication is leveraging biometric information, including fingerprints, keystroke behavior, facial behavior or voice commands. Because it is difficult to steal and tamper unique biometric data, biometrics provide effective accuracy and streamlined identification process to enable HIPAA compliance of your telemedicine video conferencing solution. 

  • Strong Access Control
    HIPAA implies implementing measures that would enable access only to those who have been provided the respective rights.

    You can find various technical measures available to control secure access. One of the methods is unique user identification. Assigning a unique name and number facilitates identification and tracking of users even when they change devices to make sure that only persons with specific permission can access PHI. 

    Another way to enable strong access control includes Role-based Access Control (RBAC) that helps classify users by roles and set up privileges and permissions to control access in the video conferencing solution. 

    Encryption and decryption must be implemented to ensure that no one other than the receiving party can decrypt and access protected health data. 

    With 256-bit AES encryption, an industry-grade standard can help enable end-to-end protection of all in-meeting data. 

  • Integrity
    Healthcare providers need to undertake steps to ensure that the ePHI is not tampered, modified or destroyed in an unauthorized way because compromised health data can lead to patient safety issues.

    Applying end-to-end encryption ensures data protection from tampering or alerting when ePHI is transmitted during a telemedicine video conferencing session. To establish data integrity, relevant procedures and processes must be implemented that include checksum verification, digital signatures and more. 

  • Data Transmission Security
    Confidential PHI is transmitted between the participants via audio and video calls, screen sharing and other ways of collaboration. When the data is moved, it is at its most vulnerable because it can be exposed to multiple risks, including MITM attacks.

    AES-based algorithms ensure end-to-end encryption and protection of data both in transit and at rest. Telemedicine video conferencing solution needs to leverage secure real-time transport protocol (SRTP) for the secure exchange of telehealth call data between browsers without interference. 

  • Activity Logs and Audit Controls
    In the regulated healthcare industry, detailed audit trails and activity logs must be presented for all systems with ePHI. By logging access threads, modifications and critical actions, audit logs can help detect security violations and unlawful access to protected data.

    All details of a video conference session should be captured, including audio, metadata and video to create an audit trail. Because granular auditing produces massive amounts of data, ensure that the telemedicine solution’s analytic capabilities are sufficient to process large volumes of information, deliver audit reports and recognize suspicious patterns. 

We ensure to adhere to HIPAA compliance requirements when developing telemedicine video conferencing solutions for healthcare organizations.           

How to develop a telemedicine app?

If you are thinking about telemedicine app development, you first need to identify users of the application.

There can be following users within the telemedicine app platform:

  • Patients
    Patients are users with necessary permissions who can request online consultation with a doctor.
  • Doctors
    Doctors are users who provide online consultation to patients, view patients’ profiles, lab reports and schedule appointments.
  • Lab Technicians
    Lab Technicians are users who share lab reports with doctors and patients and view and process lab test requests.
  • Admin
    Admins are users with administrative responsibilities and security levels.

Here’s how Patient Dashboard would look like

If you log in as a patient in the telemedicine app, you can find the following components in your app:

  1. Profile
    Patients can create profiles by entering their essential information, including name, email address, phone number, age, gender, medical history, problems they are suffering from and other information that is required to start treatment. They can update their profile information anytime.
  2. Find a Doctor
    This feature would allow patients to find doctors using filters, including specialty, gender, language and insurance provider. It would help patients to find a physician that meets their situation and needs.
  3. Appointment Scheduling
    Patients can browse doctors’ profiles on the telemedicine app and book an appointment with a doctor by looking at their availability via the calendar.
  4. Real-time Visits
    Patients can interact with doctors via video and audio calling. Video conferencing should be smooth and high-quality so doctors can examine patients remotely to recognize signs and symptoms of diseases.
  5. Payments and billing
    Patients can pay online for their visits. Telemedicine apps should be able to provide multiple payment options so that users can choose the convenient method.
  6. Messages/Instant Chat
    Patients can also send messages to the doctors related to their problems or chat with them instantly.
  7. Previous Medical Records
    Patients and doctors can access their past medical records from the telemedicine application. It helps patients consult new medical providers quickly and effectively as they can have access to patients’ medical records quickly. 
  8. Notifications
    Remind patients about upcoming visits a few minutes before the scheduled time. Also, notify patients when the appointments are approved or rejected.
  9. Book lab test
    Patients can book lab tests advised by the doctor through the telemedicine app.

 

Doctor’s Dashboard

Let’s discuss the main features of a telemedicine app for healthcare providers/doctors:

  1. Doctor Profile
    Doctors should be able to create profiles so patients can check their backgrounds, certifications and hospital affiliation.
  2. Appointment Schedule Management
    Doctors should be able to make changes to their schedules and manage their day-to-day availability. They should be able to accept and reject appointments.
  3. View EMRs
    Telemedicine apps can be integrated with EMR systems so that doctors can view patients’ medical records and lab reports in real-time.
  4. Provide Digital Prescriptions
    The telemedicine app can enable doctors to prescribe treatment and medicine right in the app. Patients can buy medicines using prescriptions provided by doctors or get other health services like lab tests through the app.
  5. Messages
    With the Messages feature, doctors can chat with patients in real-time using instant messaging. Doctors can respond to the patients’ queries and prescribe them medicines and treatment through messages.
  6. Calls
    With Calls feature, doctors can connect with patients through face-to-face video consultations. It helps doctors not only in diagnosing patients’ symptoms but also in providing effective treatment.  
  7. Visit Patients’ Medical History
    The option of viewing the patients’ medical history allows doctors to visit patients’ medical history within the telemedicine app. The patient history tab shows all patient visits along with the doctor’s name, visit date and type of treatment provided by physicians. It helps doctors give effective treatment to their patients. 
  8. Video Session Recording
    Doctors can record audio and video consultations to control the quality of their service. It can help protect both doctors and patients in case of any dispute. 
  9. Notifications
    Alert doctors about their appointment a few minutes before it gets started. Also, notify doctors when a patient requests for an appointment so that they can quickly accept or reject it based on their availability. 

 

Lab Technicians’ Dashboard

 

Lab Technicians can have the following features within their telemedicine app:

  1. Lab Technician’s Profile
    Lab Technicians should be able to create their profile by providing necessary information, including certifications, license, and background details.
  2. View Requests 
    Lab technicians can view the requests received from patients and add them to the calendar.
  3. Assign tasks to lab professional
    Based on test requests received from the patients, lab technicians can assign tasks to lab professionals to pick test samples from the patients.
  4. Share reports with doctors and patients
    Lab technicians can share lab reports from telemedicine app with doctors and patients.

Admin’s Dashboard

By logging in as the admin, you should be able to see the following navigation:

  • Users
    Admin can manage all users of the telemedicine app. They cannot only manage the users, but they can also remove or edit existing information of users.
    Admins have the right to approve the profiles of doctors and lab technicians based on their certifications or licenses.
  • Documentation
    Admins can access all documents related to medical records, patient care, lab test reports, and insurance documents. Accessing documents can help admins take evidence-based decisions, create patient registry functions, provide evidence for legal records, and research large patient populations efficiently.
  • Reports
    Using AI, data collected from the telemedicine app can be converted into valuable insights in the form of reports. Admins can access this report and make critical decisions related to the enhancement of the application.
  • Finances  
    Finances feature provides admins an opportunity to manage the money flow efficiently, for example, automatic payment reminders and online invoicing within the telemedicine app. This feature allows admins to not only track expenses and income, but also generate and send online invoices, make data-driven business decisions, and accept online payments.

Key Features of the Telehealth App

Below are the key features of the telemedicine app you need to consider before initiating the telemedicine app development:

  • Encryption and Security Protocols
    Using security and encryption protocols, a telemedicine app can allow patients and doctors to keep confidential patients’ data secure and safe. 
  • Video Conferencing
    Video conferencing allows doctors and patients to interact face-to-face on the mobile device and computer with high-quality audio and video. 
  • Instant messaging
    With instant messaging, patients can exchange text messages with doctors in real-time during or after the appointment if they need any clarifications. 
  • Appointment Management
    Appointment Management allows patients to select an available slot from the doctor’s calendar and schedule appointments themselves. 
  • Clinical Documentation
    Clinical Documentation facilitates doctors to provide patient care while considering the privacy of patients’ records. 
  • HIPAA Compliance
    When HIPAA compliance is integrated into the telemedicine app, it can help reduce errors through secure electronic communication of healthcare transactions. 

How can emerging technologies impact Telemedicine App Development?

1. Artificial Intelligence

AI and Telemedicine combined can diagnose illnesses more accurately and reduce costs. AI is transforming healthcare in a variety of ways. In a survey of 56 renowned healthcare organizations, TCS revealed that 86% of them are already using AI and are planning to spend around $54 million on it by 2020. For example, doctors have already adopted a Google Machine Learning Algorithm to treat diabetic retinopathy and diagnose remotely. 

We have explained how AI can help transform telemedicine app development below:

  • Treatment Recommendation
    IBM Watson recommends treatment plans to cancer patients with machine learning at a hospital having 327 beds in Jupiter, Florida. Using ML, IBM Watson provides clinical data corrected and reviewed by physicians.

     

    Implementing machine learning algorithms like IBM Watson in telemedicine applications can drive better diagnoses with less human intervention. For example, an algorithm should monitor every treatment for some disease and then ask patients how long it took them to feel better on average. The telemedicine platform can then help doctors recommend treatments based on previous success rates. 

  • Assisting with eldercare
    According to research by Gartner, telehealth will come in the form of robots at some point and will help deliver home healthcare. As the demand for home healthcare workers continues to exceed supply, smart machine robots are growing in utility.One of the examples of home telehealth technology is eldercare-assistive robots, which are smart machines and move semi-autonomously, use sensors to understand environments and carry out required tasks.

     

    The Japanese government has provided funding to develop robots to help older people in walking, bathing, monitoring, and waste disposal. A robot named “IBA” uses smart rubber sensors to find the weight of an elderly person without lifting. 

  • Making better diagnoses
    Doctors can monitor, diagnose, and treat patients remotely using a telemedicine app. When remote monitoring gets combined with machine learning, telemedicine apps can provide better diagnoses with less specialty staff.A startup named “FDNA” is looking to use the machine learning algorithm for detecting rare genetic diseases from pictures of patients’ faces. Currently, patients with rare genetic disorders have to visit seven doctors on average, before identifying what they have. Sending photos of faces to the machine learning algorithm via a telemedicine app can decrease that number to zero.  

2. IoT

IoT can enhance telemedicine app development in many ways. It can help in providing a quality of care that’s much better than in-person treatment techniques. 

  • Allowing doctors to get data from medical devices
    One of the obstacles of telemedicine app is that although physicians can find a rash on patients’ skin or notice that they have sweaty or pale skin via video conferencing, they cannot take patients’ blood pressure (BP) or listen to their heartbeat. Doctors usually ask patients to measure their blood pressure or pulse rates if they have BP cuffs at home. 

    A company named “CyberMed” wants to combine telemedicine and IoT and allow people to use medical devices for the produced for the company’s patients. People can buy pulse oximeters or digital stethoscopes and use them for telemedicine appointments. Data collected by devices gets transmitted to the cloud for evaluation by the doctor. 

  • Remote Monitoring
    People living in rural areas often get suffered because of the lack of appropriate health monitoring. It can be possible with the help of small yet powerful wireless sensors connected through IoT to monitor patients in such areas. 

    Smart sensors can collect the patient’s data securely, analyze the data using complex algorithms, and share the collected information with the concerned health professionals. 

Conclusion

Telemedicine App Development requires a lot of attention to detail. Apart from identifying the features to be included within the app and technologies to be used, you need to consider that the app complies with the legislation in your targeted country or regions. You need to add detailed information on each doctor and allow patients to rate and review doctors to make the telemedicine app credible for your users.

If you are looking for a technology partner to build a telemedicine application, we can help you build a telemedicine app of any type, from a small MVP to an enterprise-grade solution that can easily integrate with your existing healthcare system. Consult our telemedicine app experts and get the MVP ready in 4 weeks. 

Author’s Bio

Akash Takyar
Akash Takyar
CEO LeewayHertz
Akash Takyar is the founder and CEO at LeewayHertz. With the experience of building over 100+ platforms for startups and enterprise allows Akash to rapidly architect and design solutions that are scalable and beautiful.
Akash's ability to build enterprise-grade technology solutions has attracted over 30 Fortune 500 companies, including Siemens, 3M, P&G and Hershey’s. Akash is an early adopter of new technology, a passionate technology enthusiast, and an investor in AI and IoT startups.

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