In 2020, the market for telehealth and telemedicine apps experienced unprecedented growth, which is quite understandable. Massive pandemic lockdowns, increased attention to health problems and the fear of spreading a deadly infection created an acute need to provide medical services at a distance.
What can we observe about the state of telemedicine app development now?
The pandemic is still here, but the whole world is trying to return to normal. The steep rise in demand for telehealth solutions seems to have slowed somewhat. But the adoption of tech solutions in healthcare is still gaining momentum in many countries.
The growth rate has been truly spectacular, especially in North America. In 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak, the global telemedicine market volume was $41.63 billion. In 2020, it hit $60.9 billion. And that figure is projected to grow to $396.76 billion by 2027.
Remote healthcare services have become more efficient, thanks to innovative telemedicine app features. As a result, we can observe improvements in healthcare management, reduction of medical service costs, and increased patient satisfaction.
A little bit of theory
But before we proceed to a closer overview of trends in telemedicine and telehealth app development, let’s clarify the meaning of these terms.
Telehealth: This term describes electronic and telecommunications technologies, tools and solutions used for providing health care services, as well as health information and education services at a distance.
So is telemedicine just a synonym for telehealth? Definitely not.
Telemedicine: This is an approach or method of delivering healthcare services at a distance with the help of technologies. As a rule, telemedicine is based on videoconferencing.
Telehealth covers a broader range of services than telemedicine, and isn’t limited to clinical services.
For example, a consultation between a doctor and a patient is a clinical service that can be described as telemedicine. A video conference between a doctor and medical students doesn’t fit the definition of telemedicine, but it can be referred to as telehealth.
Telemedicine software development: modern possibilities
Let’s have a look at the technologies that are widely used to enrich both telehealth and telemedicine apps.
- Videoconferencing and video streaming. This is one of the most in-demand telemedicine app features. Videoconferencing transforms communication between doctors and patients, as well as knowledge sharing between medical experts.
- Internet of Medical Things (IoMT). Internet of Medical Things features are used for monitoring chronic diseases and the physical and psychological state of patients, as well as management of medical equipment and clinical infrastructure. We’ve already discussed IoMT solutions in a previously published blog post. If you are interested in learning more, please follow the link.
- AR/VR. VR and AR features typically are used in two ways. First, they ensure a significantly higher accuracy for diagnoses made at a distance. Second, they can offer a completely new experience for medical students and help them learn more efficiently and safely.
- Machine Learning. ML tools are used for enhancing the process of chronic disease treatment, for medical data management and streamlining workflows. ML-powered platforms offer a highly personalized experience to patients and help to increase the quality of services rendered by healthcare establishments.
What are the key features of a telemedicine app?
- A user account that contains main information about a patient;
- A patient panel that shows all scheduled visits, medical history and treatment data;
- Communication features, which can include chats, in-app calls and videoconferencing;
- Electronic Medical Records (EMR) that organize and store all info related to the patient’s health condition, optimizing the doctor’s paperwork;
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), which allows patients to share their health conditions with doctors after self-monitoring;
- A Symptom Checker that represents a database of symptoms, helping patients understand their possible diagnoses even before consulting with a doctor;
- A Prescription and Medication Tracker that will inform users about when and how they can pick up medications prescribed by their doctor.
Custom vs. Off-The-Shelf Telemedicine Apps
If you’re planning to implement a solution for remote healthcare services, it’s reasonable to ask whether it’s better to buy or build your own. The market offers a wide range of ready-made software for different needs, requirements and budgets. But is an off-the-shelf solution always the best one?
Let’s analyze these two options by considering the most important parameters you should take into account before making a decision.
- Price. If you compare the average cost of developing a telemedicine app with the monthly license fee you will need to pay to a vendor for using a ready-made solution, it may seem more feasible just to buy an app. But if you look at the figures from a more long-term perspective, you will see a very different picture.
The exact amount you will need to invest in developing a telemedicine app will greatly depend on the features and functionality of your solution. However, on average, investments in development from scratch will fully pay off in 5 years.
- Features and functionality. When you buy a solution, you often get a lot of features that are useless for you, while some that are more necessary may not be included.
What’s more, a “one-size-fits-all” solution doesn’t always allow any integrations. As a result, you may not have the option to integrate a medical system or any other third-party software you use on a regular basis.
With a custom telehealth/telemedicine app, you can easily avoid such problems by sharing all your requirements with your development team.
- Compatibility with your business model. It’s vital to understand whether your telemedicine solution is just a value-added service or a core one that will bring you substantial revenue. In the second situation, it can be risky to rely fully on software provided by a third-party vendor.
Imagine what you may need to do if your vendor decides to stop supporting this app or to quit the market?
With a custom app, you will have more freedom in your decision-making and more stability, as you won’t be a victim of decisions made by others.
- Go-to-market. There’s no doubt that choosing an off-the-shelf app allows you to start working with it very quickly. Yes, you will have to set up your servers, some parameters and maybe change your workflows. But of course, all these tasks require significantly less time than developing telemedicine software from scratch.
Development usually takes up to six months or even more. However, keep in mind that being patient will get you a solution that 100% meets your requirements and fits into your ongoing business processes.
- Maintenance and support. When you use third-party software, that party as a rule supports the app. But based on our experience, we can say that quite often the support services leave much to be desired; after all, the company needs to serve numerous customers at once.
When you order telehealth software development services, your in-house IT team or outsource service provider will be responsible for app support. That means the quality of this individual support is usually significantly higher.
So, what conclusions can we make based on these arguments? A ready-made solution can be cheaper in the short term, and you can start using it significantly faster. However, there are some risks related to your dependence on your vendor and lack of opportunities for customization.
A custom telehealth solution is definitely an investment of time and money, but you will get an app that will fully cover your needs. It can be flexible and scalable enough for your business growth and expansion. Moreover, you are fully responsible for all the decisions related to its use and support.
Our seasoned experts will help analyze your idea more deeply and offer the best solution.
Telemedicine software is one of the fields our team focuses on. One of the projects we are proud of is a cross-platform mobile app for detailed documentation of medical treatment.
The app itself represents an electronic health record. Patients and medical staff can add vital indicators including pulse, weight, pressure, medications taken, and test results. As the app collects all the important details of patient treatment in one place, doctors can quickly and easily study the whole picture and make the right decision based on the provided data. Today the app is available on iOS and Android devices. All medical records are stored in FHIR format.
For more details, please read more about the Patient Diary project on our website.
At Cogniteq, we are always open to new projects and new ideas. You can rely on us in the field of custom software development, and telehealth is one of the business domains where we’ve gained the richest expertise. Contact us and let us explain what we can offer you. Our solutions will help your business hit new peaks.