Given that the telehealth industry is projected to reach a global market value of $559.52 billion by 2027, you wouldn’t be alone in wanting to develop a telemedicine app.
So, whether you’re taking your first or next steps towards launching your app, we can help. Below, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to features, accessibility, security, and other key telemedicine development considerations to point you in the right direction.
Would you like to chat with us about your telemedicine app idea? Contact us today.
What Is a Telemedicine App? And Why Does It Matter?
Telemedicine apps are making healthcare support more readily available to anyone with access to the internet.
Developing telemedicine apps is now a huge priority for any healthcare organisation that wants to improve patient care and provide remote support.
This need has been reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic, where telemedicine apps became central to the safety and wellbeing of the general public.
However, the pandemic is not the sole driving force behind telehealth popularity. The global population is aging, particularly in developed countries such as the UK and America.
According to the Office of National Statistics, the life expectancy at birth in the UK was 79.4 years for males and 83.1 years for females between 2017-2019.
With an aging population comes a widespread need for greater healthcare support. Health and social care provisions are dominating headlines in a post-pandemic world, as demands increase and resources remain highly sought after.
Telemedicine apps offer support to anyone with healthcare needs — but are particularly important to those with chronic or complex conditions, as well as people who cannot leave the house or find it difficult to do so.
They are also hugely valuable to carers seeking convenient care solutions.
How Big Is the Telemedicine Industry?
Unsurprisingly, the telemedicine market is skyrocketing, with Statista projecting the global market to reach $559.52 billion by 2027.
The industry has been growing for the last decade, but new and exciting apps are being launched all the time. If you’re looking for best in class examples of great telehealth companies, the following apps are a great place to start:
- Teladoc: One of the world’s largest video consultation apps, Teladoc aims to offer a greater level of physical and mental health support to a broader group of patients. Founded in 2002, it has now grown to annual revenue of $605.5 million.
- MD Live connects medical and pediatric doctors, patients, and insurers in the US and globally. Charles S. Jones founded the company in 2009 and has reached revenue of $140 million.
- Maple: A telehealth app that boasts the speed at which it can connect patients with suitable healthcare professionals for video consultations.
- Babylon Health: Puts AI at the heart of its patient communications, and claims to use technology to engineer a better model of healthcare for all.
- Doctor On Demand: A US-based app that links up patients with a variety of healthcare specialists. It’s known for its array of desirable features, including upfront pricing, video calls, Healthkit and Google Fit, medication management, and push notifications. The app charges $75 per medical visit, $130 per therapy, and $299 per psychiatry.
Prioritize Accessibility for all Telemedicine Users
It’s essential to cater to all demographics when developing a telehealth app.
The service is only beneficial if anyone in need of healthcare support can truly access it — and with least 1 in 5 people experiencing long-term illness, impairment, or disability, this need will only increase in importance.
Accessibility should be a key consideration when developing any app or website. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (known as WCAG 2.1) are mandatory guidelines set out by the British government that regulate all public sector app development. These also serve as valuable baselines for private sector development.
You can find a complete list of considerations on GOV.UK website, but we’ve picked out the points that may be most relevant when developing telehealth apps.
Accessibility advice falls under 4 main principles:
You should ensure that users can recognise and use your service with their available senses. To do this, you should consider the following:
- Provide text alternatives (‘alt text’) for non-text content, such as images and video
- Provide transcripts and captions for audio and video
- Use the proper markup for every feature (for example, forms and data tables), so the relationships between content are defined properly
- Logically structure content to aid screen reader navigation
- Avoid using color to explain or emphasize
- Use text colors with high contrast to the background colour
- Ensure every feature can be used when text size is increased by 200% and that content reflows to a single column when it’s increased by 400%
- Avoid using images of text
- Use a responsive design
Your content also needs to be discoverable, whether users are using voice commands or a keyboard. Your checklist should include:
- Make sure everything works for keyboard-only users
- Allow users to play, pause and stop any moving content
- Avoid using blinking or flashing content (or allow the user to disable animations)
- Provide a “skip to content” link
- Use descriptive titles for pages and frames
- Offer a logical path through content navigation
- Use meaningful headings and labels that directly correspond to the content
- Usie “active focus” so users know what their assistive device is focusing on
Next, you must ensure users can understand your content and how the service works. Essentially, this principle centers around using plain English. So, you should avoid using overly complex jargon or phrases, explain all acronyms, and keep sentences short.
Finally, you need to make sure your content can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents (including reasonably outdated, current, and anticipated browsers and assistive technologies).
This means you need to do things like:
- Use valid HTML so user agents, including assistive technologies, can accurately interpret and parse content.
- Make sure your code lets assistive technologies know what every user interface component is for, what state it’s currently in and if it changes.
- Ensure important status messages or modal dialogs are marked up to inform users of their presence and purpose — and let them interact with them using their assistive technology.
- Let the user return to what they were doing after interacting with the status message or modal input.
What are the Typical Features of a Telemedicine App?
Online Video Consultation
As you can see by the industry-leading examples listed earlier, this type of software is the most commonly used in telehealth apps. You can’t overlook the value of allowing patients to speak to someone face-to-face. This can be especially important for older users, who are more used to visiting their GP for any healthcare need.
Additionally, if patients have an idea of their issue but need quick confirmation from a professional, telehealth video features allow them to gain this without having to wait for an in-person appointment.
This type of app may allow patients to manage their prescription orders via an app, instead of visiting their GP surgery or pharmacy. This is especially beneficial to those taking multiple medications, as it can provide a breakdown of ordering dates for each item.
PillPack offers additional features such as organizing medicine doses, which may prove valuable for those who struggle to stay on top of a medication routine.
Prescription management apps can also speak to patients’ electronic health records (EHRs) to help healthcare professionals manage their items.
This feature is most commonly used for treatment advice. Online chats may supplement other features such as video consultation.
Telemedicine apps should also offer some, if not all, of the following features:
- Profile Management
- Text chat
- EHR information
- Calendar integration
How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Telemedicine App?
Every developer or development agency will provide you with a different cost, but it’s important to know how much work is required to align quotes with actual productivity timelines.
The team of expertise required for telemedicine app development includes:
- 1 Business Analyst
- 1 UX/UI designer
- 1 Backend developer
- 1 Frontend developer
- 1 Mobile developer
- 1 QA tester
- 1 Project Manager
Developer rates vary from country to country. Whereas typical telemedicine app developers from the UK have an average rate of $70-$150 per hour, developments from Ukraine have an average rate of $30-$50 per hour.
Let’s take the Ukrainian development cost as a base for calculations. Consider where you want the development work to take place, based on cost efficiencies.
You should, however, be wary of choosing developers solely based on cheapness. Your main priority should be working with professionals who have the strongest track record within your specific telemedicine niche. Paying lower fees is only beneficial until something goes wrong and you need to pay heavily to rectify errors.
You should also ensure that security and data requirements will be met regardless of where the app is being developed, as each region has its own requirements.
Estimates can range anywhere from $10,000 to $450,000, so you must speak to a trusted development company and discuss their deliverables according to your objectives.
Essential Security Considerations for Telemedicine Apps
1. Regulatory Compliance
Regulatory standards for telemedicine apps are high and non-negotiable, as these apps handle patients’ health records. Meeting regulations is not only essential to protect patient data but also to optimise information flow while offering maximum cybersecurity.
As mentioned above, regulatory standards vary between countries. If you’re developing for international users, you should be aware of the following standards and legal regulations:
- United States: HIPAA regulations
- Canada: PIPEDA
- Europe: Data Protection Directive 1995/46/EC, the e-Privacy Directive 2002/58/EC/ IEC 62304 and GDPR
2. Data Safety Tools
A variety of telehealth technology tools can ensure data safety when developing a telemedicine app. AES 128 Bit and SHA 256 are commonly used.
In addition to implementing these algorithms, you must also conduct security assessments after every update to search for vulnerabilities.
3. Video Quality
Video quality isn’t just a user experience issue when it comes to telemedicine. Poor video quality may result in communication errors, incorrect diagnosis and poor treatment.
While device cameras significantly impact video quality, you should ensure video is the best it can be by choosing a vendor with solid video conferencing experience within the telemedicine app field. Poor video quality can be a result of poor or invalid code or low bandwidth.
Why Outsource to S-PRO?
S-PRO can fill the role of both technical and advisory partner, with access to the most critical tools in telemedicine app development.
And in addition to our in-depth knowledge in this field, we work in a way that harnesses intelligence and design excellence.
You can expect three key phases when working with S-PRO:
- Product Discovery Phase: The team will collect and analyze information about your project, its market, and your target demographics to clearly define your USP and scope out development. This stage is often really interesting for CTOs and project leads who have preconceptions about the key user benefits but want proof to back up their assumptions. This phase also offers clear deliverables — a must when bringing a telemedicine app to market.
- Product Design Phase: This is a complex multi-step process at the junction of engineering, management, and graphic design. It provides a comprehensive understanding of what the final product will look and feel like. It also defines which tasks the product will handle.
- Product Engineering Phase: Finally, our team will establish the roadmap and create efficient projects backed by the latest technologies and industry standards.