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Telemedicine and App Development Process

Updated on February 15, 2019
Mahmood Anwar profile image

Mahmood is a freelance writer with 5 years of relevant experience. He is also a published author with Oxford University Press (OUP).

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Telemedicine offers a world of convenience for patients and better allocation of health resources. The ability to get professional medical advice from anywhere in the world opens limitless possibilities. Despite the available benefits, telemedicine faces major challenges and there is a defined process for app development. Let's take a closer look.

Introduction

According to Statista, the telemedicine market is expected to reach $40 billion by 2021. Telemedicine app development is an emerging area with huge development potential as it enables patients and doctors to collaborate over physical distances with the assistance of technology. It is highly convenient for people living in rural areas, who have limited access to medical assistance.

Benefits of telemedicine

There are multiple benefits of telemedicine and research is being conducted to identify its application in different contexts. The availability of 4G cellular networks and basic literacy are important pre-requisites for availing telemedicine services. Some important benefits are:

  • C2Solutions shared a report where it was identified that 75% of hospital visits are of routine nature and can be handled through mobile or video call. The commute to and fro from clinic/hospital facility can be easily avoided.
  • Due to increasing healthcare requirements, many countries face a dearth of qualified physicians/doctors and patients have to suffer long waiting lines. The doctors are also stressed due to heavy workload and a middle ground is required.
  • 75% of patients who have routine problems can easily benefit from physicians advice through telemedicine. They can do this from the comfort of their homes and the Doctors’ time can be freed up for crucial patients.
  • Many patients live in remote areas where the commute to the nearest hospital is at least 2-3 hours. Furthermore, weather conditions also play an important role. The convenience to share logged symptoms with a trusted doctor and avail medical advice means a substantial saving of both finances and time.
  • Depending on the in-built features, a telemedicine app can record continuous vital signs and share real-time data with patient and doctor. Exercise, dietary intake and emerging symptoms of illness can be analyzed to take proactive actions and limit/negate possible health damage.

Challenges to telemedicine app development

Following areas present significant hurdles to telemedicine:

  • Healthcare is normally resistant to change as Governments and complex legal requirements are involved. Hospital institutions and insurance companies have control over the prevailing health system and therefore awareness needs to be built.
  • Donor agencies also play an important role, as they need to ensure that their funds are spent in a transparent manner. Such transparency is normally lacking in third world countries, thereby harming possible initiatives.
  • Patients, especially those above 50 years of age, are not well versed with technology usage and are reluctant to adopt telemedicine.
  • Information privacy is a key concern as patients feel their information may be leaked out, thereby causing distress. Telemedicine legislation needs to be passed which ensures data privacy through highly encrypted systems.
  • Patients value trust in their relationship with doctors and want face-to-face meetings as a starting point. Future visits can be conducted through telemedicine apps.

Telemedicine app development

How do you start building a telemedicine app from scratch and which resources do you need to consult. These questions are answered by a step-by-step procedure:

Idea evaluation is the basis of this process because requirements must be crystal clear from a development standpoint. The idea should be viable, therefore you should know why you want to develop a telemedicine app and what is your target market.

Telemedicine app development process

1) Perform business analysis
2) Market research and competitor analysis
3) Create a unique value proposition
4) Prototype creation, testing and results
5) Identifying marketing channels

1) Perform business analysis

If the idea is viable then the customers should be identified, as you need to know who will buy your product. This is the target market and their needs/preferences need to be identified preferably through structured surveys etc. A defined target market could result in a dedicated app for cancer patients.

Telemedicine usage

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2) Market research and competitor analysis

Market leaders need to be researched to understand their price and offering. Their ratings, strengths, and weaknesses need to be analyzed, to get a better idea of how your app would perform. If you have a service with USP then you can set a different pricing strategy.

3) Create a unique value proposition

Me-too strategy rarely works in a highly competitive market and you need to understand your value proposition. Some important features could be:

  • Chat quality

Patients and doctors need to have access to a seamless chat experience. They will be reluctant to use the telemedicine app if chat quality is not up to the mark.

  • Privacy concerns

The database must have a high level of encryption as patients’ health and financial data needs to be secured. Credit card information etc. may be stored on your database and any breach would have disastrous consequences. Trust building is an integral issue.

  • Doctor information

In order to build patient confidence, the Doctor’s qualification, experience etc. should be visible in the app. Patients may also be advised to visit doctors (if available in the same city) for the first time, to build trust. Services like Uber may be engaged to offer a discount for such visits, which will build app loyalty.

4) Prototype creation, testing and results

The prototype cannot be rushed to get an early entry into the business. An app with basic features should be targeted and access is given to a few users to test and provide feedback. The next stage is to build a high-fidelity prototype with all required features.

5) Identifying marketing channels

Heavy advertisements on different channels are outdated. You need to understand where your target market resides and how they ask questions. You need to focus on major social media platforms and reach out to them. Collecting information about the target market’s characteristics will help reach them in the best possible manner.

Telemedicine app features
Telemedicine app features | Source

Conclusion

Telemedicine app development is a rising business avenue, therefore familiarity with legal requirements and emerging technologies is necessary. Knowing your customer and offering valuable solutions to their health problems is the key to success. Trust building and following a structured process will yield optimum results.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Mahmood Anwar

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