The rising speed and availability of internet networks and technology in the smartphone industry to augment global connectivity have helped address gaps in healthcare and telehealth services. This has led to a dramatic rise in demand for telemedicine software or app development over the past year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, which hindered the delivery of healthcare services. Technology is at the forefront of this innovation.
The growing need for the management and monitoring of health, especially the prevalence of chronic disorders using smart devices is significantly driving the market growth of telemedicine. That is why the global telehealth market size had a value of 62.4 billion USD in 2021 and is projected to grow at a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 36.5% from 2022 to 2028.
But how to create a telemedicine app and help in health management and monitoring in the shortest possible time frame?
There are 6 main steps to building telemedicine software:
- Project Planning
- Discovery Phase
- UI/UX Design Prototyping
- Product Development
- Delivery and Maintenance
In this article, we will unveil all the details about telehealth apps, its market size, and telemedicine software development.
Telemedicine Application Market Overview
According to a Merritt Hawkins survey, conducted in 15 major metropolitan areas in the USA, a patient needs to wait on average of 24.1 days in order to have a new appointment. The situation is even worse for mid-sized cities, where an average time is 32.8% longer than for major metropolitan areas. That is why one in three patients go to an emergency room to avoid waiting.
The situation is similar in Europe, though it is a bit easier to book an appointment with a general practitioner. For example, in France, it takes 6 days to see a general practitioner. However, the situation is much different for seeing a specialist. To see a pediatrician can take around three weeks.
The picture becomes even worse when you add COVID-19 to the equation. That is why the need for telemedicine software technology is now bigger than ever.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine stands for the usage of information and communication technologies to improve patient access to care, medical information, and health management or monitoring in order to enhance patient health outcomes.
It assists healthcare specialists in evaluating, diagnosing, monitoring and management of patients’health in distant locations using telemedicine software.
- remote doctor-patient consulting
- health education and monitoring services
- remote monitoring and management of vital signs, ECG or blood pressure.
Rise in Telemedicine Services Usage
Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telehealth software technology was negligible. However, as the pandemic started, the number of enrollees for these services increased drastically. During this period, the use of telemedicine apps soared to 13% in the first six months of the pandemic. Nevertheless, the rate declined to about 11% in the following 6-months period. It then reduced again to 8% a year into the pandemic.
Source: Health System Tracker
As of July 2021 and beyond, the utilization of telehealth software technology was 38 times higher than before the pandemic. Consumers and providers now view telehealth application services differently since the pre-COVID-19 era. Even though the usage has reduced slightly since its peak in 2020, people are now aware of these types of software. This is because it has significantly helped in the management of health.
The American Journal of Managed Care states that 62.6% of patients and 59.0% of clinicians reported no difference in the quality of visits between in-house visits and telehealth application.
Based on the Research2Guidance questionnaire, 53% of patients are interested in remote doctor visits or have already taken part in them.
The Definitive Healthcare survey indicates that 65% of US physicians in outpatient care and 40% of healthcare specialists in inpatient care services have already supported telehealth apps and use them regularly. In addition, 90% of telehealth application investments are planned to take place within the next 12 to 18 months.
One more interesting fact: even though North America has had the largest telehealth market, it is forecasted that the healthcare software market in the Asia Pacific will experience the fastest growth driven by:
- Rising investments
- Arising trends
- Increased number of patients with chronic or infectious diseases that need management.
Disruptive Trends in Telemedicine
Telemedicine technology is not that new to the world — it has been around for more than 50 years since the University of Nebraska performed a medical video consultation.
However, it has been growing and expanding rapidly in recent years when the technologies became more accessible and widespread.
2020 has definitely gotten things rolling much faster than it used to due to the pandemic. As the coronavirus struck country by country in a matter of months, it became clear that drastic measures should be taken towards the adoption of telehealth application use, or else the whole healthcare system would collapse.
Here are some trends to watch for in the coming years:
Value-Driven Health Care
The USA is projected to spend more than $45 trillion on healthcare in the coming decade. Well, this is not government spending on health infrastructure or equipment. It is ordinary people using their money to pay for health services.
Individuals are spending so much money on health management while wage growth remains stagnant. However, this is expected to change as there is a shift from the main fee-for-service model to a more value-based approach focused on providing quality care.
Personalized Care and Convenience
People now expect the level of personalized health management in the healthcare industry should be on par with other industries like finance. Hospitals and other health-oriented institutions can meet these expectations by adopting technology to provide more personalized, convenient virtual care.
For example, with telehealth apps, doctors can provide services online because they have access to patient’s full electronic health records (EHR).
Platforms, Data, and Technology
Healthcare data stored in the electronic health records (EHR) or cloud can now be combined with data collected from wearable devices, sensors, and smartphones to provide doctors with 360 information on an individual’s health. This will enable healthcare professionals aided by AI to offer personalized services and diagnose or prevent illness earlier.
Also, patients will now have hands-on information about their health status, records, and receive prompt recommendations for behavioural changes. The combination of all of these actions will ultimately help them stay healthy and reduce expenses on healthcare.
Benefits of Telemedicine Software
Accessibility is one of the most influential telemedicine benefits. With telemedicine software, patients have the ability to make an appointment with the doctor and view their records no matter where they are. A mobile video call using the app can take place where a person is and can take less than 30 minutes.
It is especially important in areas where there aren’t many hospitals or there is a lack of healthcare specialists. Americans living in the countryside are 7 times more likely to report that they didn’t have a chance to get help from a specialist compared to urban areas, where the likelihood is three times.
Telemedicine apps expand the audience and give a number of benefits to doctors.
According to the 2019 Physician Survey, conducted by American Well, 69% of physicians are willing to have a video appointment since it increases access for their patients. Additionally, 93% of physicians said that telehealth improves a patient’s access to care.
RHA notes that there is an issue of healthcare personnel shortage. This can be seen in rural areas especially (39.8 physicians per 100,000 people, compared to 53.3 physicians per 100,000 in urban areas).
Source:the 2019 Physician Survey
74 % of US patients would rather have an online doctor visit. This number is higher in remote locations. In the US, for every 100,000 rural patients, there are only 43 specialists available.
Not only are telehealth software accessible, but they are also convenient for health management.
According to the 2019 Physician Survey, one of the reasons why physicians are willing to hold a mobile video call with patients is because of the work-life balance.
Besides, 77% of responders said that it contributes to more efficient use of time both for doctors and patients.
Telehealth software saves tons of money for patients since they don’t need to use emergency rooms in order to get treatment.
An appointment with the doctor via a telemedicine solution costs around $49. However, a visit to an emergency room for health management can be three times higher.
Telehealth solutions are able to offer affordable prices to patients. This is because they optimize the use of resources and staff distribution. Telehealth solutions don’t need equipped waiting rooms and office staff.
According to Statista, in 2017, around 30% of healthcare organizations reported saving approximately 20% of their costs with the help of telemedicine. Another 42% of organizations reported saving 5%-19% of the cost of providing their services.
During the time of life-threatening diseases, exposing oneself to the nidus is a great risk. And online video consulting is a much safer option for both patients and medical staff.
Top Telehealth Companies in the Game
Here are some of the top telehealth companies:
Doctor On Demand
Doctor on Demand Homepage
This is probably the most famous telehealth app. In only 3 minutes, a patient can be matched with the doctor. Doctor on Demand was founded in 2012 and is now based in San Francisco. The company has raised $160.7M in total.
Using a Doctor on Demand app is no different than having an offline visit. A patient lists their symptoms and concerns. Then a doctor and a patient have a mobile video call. After that, the doctor gives a diagnosis and suggests the necessary treatment. Note that all the patients’ data and records are kept in EHR or cloud.
The peculiarity of this app is that a user can have an instant video appointment even at 3 a.m. It works 24/7.
Sesame Care Homepage
This telehealth solution provides same-day appointments for the first health visit. Prices for medical consulting vary based on location, and users say prices are overall affordable.
If a local pharmacy has prescribed you a medication, it can be covered by your insurance. Sesame Care offers a number of treatments for health issues like:
- chronic condition care
- men’s health
- wellness and disease prevention
- diabetes care
- dental care
- mental health
- sleep issues
It is an AI-powered health solution that not only provides patients with a doctor’s consultation and treatment but also offers an AI-driven chatbot that helps to assess patients’ symptoms.
The company was founded in Palo Alto, California in 2010 and has raised over $80M in funds.
This is another telehealth company that offers online and on-demand healthcare services. Founded in 2006 in Sunrise, Florida, it has raised about $120M in 3 funding rounds.
MDLive offers consulting services via a phone or a video call or a mobile app. Besides offering consulting services from general practitioners, the company also provides behavioral health therapy.
Babylon Health Homepage
This is a London-based startup that is powered by machine learning. It offers 2 kinds of services: either scheduling an appointment with the doctor or talking to an AI chatbot.
The company was founded in 2013 and has already got $635.3M of investments.
In March it launched an AI-driven chatbot for checking coronavirus symptoms.
Want to build telemedicine software?
Telemedicine Software Development Process: Step-by-Step Guide
To build properly functioning telemedicine software, the development process is divided into 6 to 8 steps depending on the company. Here are the steps to build your telemedicine app:
The project terms are evaluated in the planning phase of software development. Here, the cost of labor and materials needs to be calculated. Also, the project’s team and leadership are set up, together with the target goals.
In this phase, feedback from stakeholders, developers, and potential customers should be taken. It should also clearly outline the purpose and scope of the telemedicine software.
Sometimes the discovery phase can be combined with the planning phase. Here, all the necessary information about the project is provided. Extensive market research is done to understand market demand and customer needs. Also, it is in this phase that the unique value proposition for the product is developed.
UI/UX Design Prototyping
The design phase models how the telemedicine software will look and function. Once the design is complete, a prototype is then built to demonstrate how the software looks and works. This is especially important to stakeholders.
It is in this phase that the actual product development of telemedicine occurs. It takes up a huge amount of time. The developers need to work with designers and other teams to ensure that the project scope is attained and all the core features are added.
Testing is a crucial part of software development as it ensures that the app is free of bugs and errors. This process can be done manually and automatically. First, a tester manually checks the software for functionality and other issues. Then, the quality assuring process is done automatically to pick up some errors or bugs that could not be found through manual testing.
Delivery and Maintenance
In the delivery phase, the is made available to users. Sometimes, this process is automated. Once the software is available to the general public, the developers also need to maintain it for bugs that could not be caught in the testing phase. So, constant maintenance is required.
Telemedicine Software Development: Core Features to Include
Learning how to create a telemedicine app starts with market and competitor research and then defining the core features for the future product.
As we overviewed the most popular telemedicine software, we have found a few details and, most importantly, core features that should be brought up to your attention.
Firstly, there are three user roles on the telemedicine apps: doctors, patients, and admins. Each of them uses different features.
Registration should be seamless, though you should ask for the gender and date of birth. In order to speed up the registration process, your software can offer to sign up with a social network, like Google or Facebook.
Some software only works with patients that have health insurance. So, it would be a good idea to find out the patient’s coverage beforehand.
Doctor on Demand Registration page
User Profile & Dashboard
A user’s profile should be the same as their medical card, only in a digital form. Probably the best version of a user’s profile was implemented on HealthTap software. It has everything, starting from general information about the patient and ending with preferred pharmacies.
HealthTap user profile and dashboard
As for a dashboard, a patient should be able to access records on their last visit, prescriptions, treatments, and so on.
Doctor on Demand questionnaire page
You can make the search as extensive as you want it to be, but we advise you to keep to the minimum:
- Search by a keyword, physician or symptom
- By patient’s location
Your search page can also have a map and can show the number of available doctors.
In case one of the ways of your software monetization is promoting doctors’ profiles by charging them a fee, then you should clearly state to the patients that a certain doctor’s profile is sponsored.
Zocdoc search page
Since various states have different regulations, your software should have a geolocation feature to ensure that both a patient and a doctor are from the same area.
There is a wide range of filters you can introduce on your telemedicine app.
The most common filters are:
- Date and time
- Special hours
Zocdoc filter option
Сommon parameters for sorting:
- Default order
- Wait time rating
Zocdoc sorting feature
Your solution should provide a patient with information on a chosen doctor.
Doctor’s page should contain:
- Field of practice
- General information
- In-network insurances
- Education and training
- Languages spoken
Note: If there are a lot of reviews, you can enable search and filter for reviews.
Zocdoc reviews page
Bookings are often done in the form of a questionnaire. During the booking process a user should be asked for:
- Patient’s insurance number
- Reason for the appointment
- Time and Date
Zocdoc booking page
Video and Audio Calls
Mobile Video and Audio calls should be HIPAA-compliant and secure as mentioned above. HIPAA-compliant mobile video or audio calls can be achieved by following Health Level 7.
You can choose what kind of mobile video call your software will offer: on-demand or pre-scheduled. On-demand call stands for an instant mobile call. Usually, this type of mobile call is more expensive. A pre-scheduled mobile call is a call booked beforehand with a set date and time.
For conducting payment transactions in Sloboda Studio we usually go for some safe options like PayPal or Stripe. Offer users different options for paying – with a credit card or a digital wallet.
Rating and Reviews
Build trust by implementing such a feature as a rating and reviewing system. 3 core pages to place reviews:
- Listing page
- Doctor’s page
- Main Page
Note: To enable this feature don’t forget to ask users to leave feedback after each appointment. The more feedback you’ll collect, the more trust your software would gain.
Ratings and reviews page
After a user has a video appointment, they might still need some clarifications. Texting on the mobile app is the way to settle them. However, with this feature, your software should have a subscription model since a user will be taking some of the doctor’s time. This way, you’ll have the resources to compensate for the doctor’s time.
As patients, doctors also need to fill in the information about themselves, including their photos, certifications, and experience, for patients to see a doctor’s page.
The doctor’s dashboard is an extremely valuable feature since it contains detail on every patient of theirs. Patient records, prescriptions, scheduled appointments, and treatment – it’s all there.
Calendar integration is useful both for patients and doctors. Patients will use a calendar during the search and booking process. Plus, both doctors and patients can set automatic reminders for their appointments.
According to the Massachusetts General Hospital, 79% of patients find scheduling a follow-up visit via telehealth apps pretty convenient.
When the treatment for the patient is decided, a doctor usually writes down the prescription. The doctor can write down an ePrescription and share it with the closest pharmacy. On some mobile telehealth software, like Practo patients can buy medications from the app and pick them up at the pharmacy.
An admin panel helps to manage the whole software and both sides. If you are just starting out, you can do some actions manually, thus saving some money. For example, if you want to implement recurring billing, admins can send notifications manually.
Expert Tips to Look Out When Building a Telehealth Solution
When building a telemedicine solution, think through the value it will provide to users. Besides the obvious challenge that every online marketplace has – retaining both parties – there are some typical issues related to the healthcare industry.
Any software that provides healthcare services and operations, such as payment has to be compliant with the country’s regulations. Each country has different regulations. For example, in the USA, it’s HIPAA, but in Canada – PIPEDA. These are the rules that help secure data stored in EHR or cloud.
European Union countries follow the Data Protection Directive 1995/46/EC and the e-Privacy Directive 2002/58/EC. If healthcare software fails to follow the regulations, the medical company can be fined or even sued. In some cases, such violations can lead to prison time.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) manages transmissions, protects medical and personal data and limits access to unauthorized entities. In this case, healthcare software is not legitimate if it’s not HIPAA compliant.
Solution: Following Health Level-7, a set of international standards used to transfer and share data between different healthcare providers. HL7 ensures that patients’ medical data in EHR or cloud is safely secured and stored. Plus, it provides a framework for every step of medical data exchange and storage in the EHR or cloud.
Note: Those who are planning to build a telemedicine solution in the USA are in luck because on March 27, Trump signed the CARES Act. This act loosened a few regulations for healthcare providers. On April 2, the Federal Communications Commission released the $200M COVID-19 Telehealth Program to help eligible healthcare providers continue to treat patients with the help of telehealth tech.
Another important step in winning patients’ and doctors’ trust is security. You need to be sure that your software uses the proper practices for securing telehealth software. It should also be able to secure data stored in EHR or cloud.
Available security methods:
- Multi-factor authentication
- Biometric identification
- Encryption of data in EHR
- Two-step user verification
- Automatic log-offs.
Security is not the only factor in gaining patients’ trust. Doctors’ expertise plays a big part in winning users’ trust. It also depends on how they manage patient data in EHR or cloud.
Telehealth software can get users to trust by:
- Showcasing doctors’ experience, diplomacy, years of experience, overall expertise, and where they work
- Including patients’ feedback and ratings on a particular doctor.
If you are building an online telehealth marketplace in multiple languages, it would be hard to make it used all over the World, due to many law restrictions around the globe. On the other hand, it provides hundreds of opportunities to build an excellent niche and local software.
But are doctors allowed to consult patients that are abroad?
In fact, doctors can consult patients on treatment and medication that are abroad. This is because they already have patients’ data in the EHR or cloud. However, in the case of international care provision, doctors can’t write any prescriptions. Patients can use the recommended medicines, but they are solely responsible for their actions and this treatment.
How to Monetize a Telemedicine Platform
The commission model is a way to monetize a business by charging a fee for every payment transaction. For example, Doctor on Demand charges doctors a 25% fee for patients every time they pay for a consultation.
There are different variations of a subscription model. For example, only patients would pay a fee to access the software, either monthly or yearly, and would be charged for every service (The Arizona Telemedicine Program). Another case is when both parties pay for accessing a telehealth app (Myca Nutrition).
SaaS (Software as a Service)
SaaS is a way to monetize a medical solution by offering its software to other companies based on a subscription model. Doctor on Demand, for instance, uses this model and charges a per-provider fee – around $1 per person per month. Thus, if a company has 100,000 employees, it would cost about $1.2 million every year.
With this model, the software sets a price per minute for medical consulting. However, per-minute billing is uncommon with telehealth software and is more used when building expert consulting software.
This monetization model is great for telemedicine providers with a good reputation. Obviously, you can remain on belocal telehealth app. However, to expand your market abilities, you can try to franchise the software.
A franchising model implies selling rights under the brand to other providers. With a franchising model, they would need to pay a fee and follow certain rules set by the franchise owner.
Advertising shouldn’t be the only revenue model introduced on the telehealth software. Usually, it serves as a secondary source of revenue. One of the ways to make this model work is to advertise insurance companies to patients.
Want to build telemidicine software?
How Much Does Telemedicine Software Cost?
The cost of developing telemedicine software largely depends on the number of features added in correspondence with what potential users expect to see. That is why it is difficult to give a straightforward answer. However, due to our experience with building telemedicine apps, we can give you a ballpark estimate of how much it will cost.
Let’s breakdown development costs into different aspects:
Development Cost Breakdown
Creating a medical app with core functionalities only may cost somewhere between $35,000 and $150,000. The difference in price range depends on factors such as:
- Number of integrations
- Size of the web development team
- Functionality and functions
- The app for deployment (iOS, Android, Web)
- Design and user experience
Timeframe for Development
You can expect to spend around 4 to 6 months on web development. This includes delivery, the preparation phase, project planning, UI and UX design, MVP development and launch.
The timeframe can also vary if you decide to create the app from scratch or use our white-label solution with pre-built features.
Also, the time of development will depend on the experience of the software development team. The more experienced the team, the less time is for web development.
Ways to Build a Telemedicine Platform: Pros and Cons
There are 3 ways of building telemedicine software:
- Custom Development
- White-label Solution
Custom web development implies building software from scratch, in our case, telehealth software.
Pros of Custom Development
Building a telemedicine solution from scratch will give you the advantage of creating an app with whatever functionality and look you want
Custom telemedicine app development lets you add more functionality. This is crucial once your solution is stable and ready to grow into a fully-featured product.
Cons of Custom Development
Let’s face it, it has undeniable advantages. However, it is the most expensive option to create. Even if you start with developing an MVP, it still requires funding for 2-3 months.
Surely, you won’t be building a fully-featured product right away. You’ll probably start with building a Minimum Viable Product. This will take around 3 to 4 months. Nevertheless, with such a huge demand on the market, 3 months may seem like a lot of time.
SaaS (Software as a Service) is a service subscription in which subscribers are provided with a ready-made software application that is fully supported by the provider. In fact, many telemedicine software offer this kind of service to those who also want to start a telemedicine software.
Pro of SaaS Solutions
Since you’ll be working with the service provider, all the hustle of supporting and updating the software will be on them. Plus, you’ll be able to contact a support center if any concerns arise.
Con of SaaS Solutions
- Lack of custom abilities
That’s the thing though, you won’t be able to customize this software perhaps as much as you’d want to. You’ll have the ability to set up some basic UI and UX.
A white-label solution is a product or service that is owned by a provider which you buy, rebrand, and use as your own custom software but without getting the intellectual rights to the software’s codebase (so that you can’t resell the code, but can resell your own software).
Building a telehealth solution from scratch can sometimes be time-consuming. For companies who do not have free time on their hands, Sloboda Studio offers a white-label solution that they can buy and rebrand as their own.
This ready-made solution will help you launch faster than competitors, even on a tight budget. It will save you 2X web development time and comes with base features such as:
- Log in/Sign up
- Auth via Facebook and Google
- 3-step profile creation
- Ability to add images sliders to show “How it works”
- Ability to add 3 types of sessions: online (Zoom), offline, and recordings (Vimeo)
- Zoom integration
- Search & Navigation
- Video upload feature integration
- Stripe Connect integration
- User subscription logic
- Admin panel
Pros of White-Label Solutions
With the white-label solution, you’ll be able to launch a telehealth app in just a few weeks. This is a great option when it’s better not to waste the time.
What’s amazing about a white-label solution is spending less than custom web development but still getting a custom telehealth software. With white-label, you’ll be saving around 80% on telemedicine app development.
The minimum amount of time, less money, and high quality. That’s what a white-label solution is all about. So it’s in the provider’s interest to have high-quality telemedicine software.
This feature is something that is typical to only custom web development. However, you’ll be able to scale a telehealth solution with a white-label solution. Surely, any extra feature or integration will require additional costs. But you’ll control what needs to be added to your telemedicine software.
Cons of White-Label Solutions
- Dependence on tech support
As with a SaaS solution, you’ll be dependent on the technical support of a software provider. However, unlike SaaS, you won’t need to pay monthly to get access and support.
Hudson Medical + Wellness
Hudson Medical + Wellness is a medical practice based in New York City. Since its opening in 2010, the main goal of Hudson Medical + Wellness has been to revolutionize healthcare. With this goal in mind, Hudson Medical + Wellness sought out ways to elevate its patient experience, which led to the implementation of this project.
The client sought our services to make upgrades related to the clinic’s patients and staff management, and appointment bookings. They also needed a user-friendly mobile application for IOS and Android.
As a result of our collaboration, Hudson Medical + Wellness has many new features added, including:
- Third-party services integration
- Admin system for the clinic staff
- Web and mobile applications
- Pain submission feature
- Appointment booking
- Appointment requests
- Clinic Wait Times online queue
To sum up, telemedicine software is now extremely in demand. Millions of dollars are invested in software that offers the best functionality, unique propositions, and, most importantly high healthcare services by top specialists.
Obviously, the consequences of COVID-19 have skyrocketed the need for telemedicine services and telemedicine apps. Nevertheless, it is not something that comes and goes. These types of software proved themselves to be very efficient, useful, and profitable.
Before building a telemedicine app, decide what features your software is going to have. However, the most important thing here is to make sure that your telemedicine solution complies with the county’s / state’s regulations. Furthermore, choose the best-fitted way for your telemedicine development.
As for software development, we’ve built a unique ready-made solution that can be used for a telemedicine software. This solution enables you to customize and save 2X on costs along with launching faster than your competitors.
Book a consultation to find out more about our white-label telemedicine software solution.
Frequently Asked Questions
What technologies are used in telemedicine?
Mobile health apps, live video conferencing, “store and forward” electronic transmission, and remote patient monitoring (RPM) are some of the technologies used in telehealth.
How long does it take to create telemedicine software?
The time it takes to build telemedicine software depends on lots of factors such as the expertise of developers, the number of features, and technologies used.
How much does it cost to build a telemedicine platform?
The price will depend on several factors including the type of application, its complexity, the kind of team, its technical level, and the hourly rates of the experts.
Who needs to be hired to create a telemedicine app?
To build a telemedicine app, you need to hire a dedicated web development team which usually consists of a business analyst, project manager, UX designer(s), developers, and QA. Finding this expertise can be very challenging. That is why it is advisable to hire the services of a software development company with these experts readily available.