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A new connected healthcare industry provides a decent response to unexpected global changes and shifted customer values. Both patients and healthcare providers cultivate maximum benefits from remote care delivery services. Telemedicine solutions can complement many healthcare functions, from real-time remote patient monitoring to reliable clinical data storage and asset management.
In a global sense, this affects the quality of healthcare services, which results in improved patient experience and quick mitigation of urgent health concerns. In a business sense, this can serve as a powerful distribution channel for expanding healthcare services, lowering healthcare costs, and optimizing time and resources.
It’s not surprising that so many healthcare facilities, large networks, and private practitioners invest in telemedicine software development and will keep doing so. According to the latest market forecasts, the telemedicine market size is estimated to reach almost $432 million by 2030.
As an expert telemedicine software development company, our core mission is to help you uncover all crucial business and technical specifics. So, we’ve prepared an expert guide to telemedicine software development. Below, we will discuss the relevant standards and technical requirements, top features, costs, and current industry challenges. Also, we will share our in-house experience and guide you through the development process, as well as give you an idea of what you need to get started.
Who needs telemedicine software development?
There are many ways healthcare facilities can benefit from telehealth software development. Whether you decide to build custom healthcare applications, modernize legacy systems or upgrade your existing products, you’ll be able to address current business challenges and meet most of the customers’ needs.
Let’s review the list of healthcare facilities that might need to hire an expert telemedicine software development company.
Small healthcare facilities
Although your business can be small, you should find a way to sustain and remain competitive among healthcare market leaders. The best way to bypass limited resources and budget is to know your target audience and keep them satisfied. Thus, by turning to a professional healthcare software provider, you can develop an MVP solution or rework the functionality of your existing system affordably and most safely.
Below guides can serve you as a cheatsheet to come up with an optimal solution to meet your core needs:
About turning your idea into a viable product: How To Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)? [Startup Case Studies]
About upgrading a legacy system: How to Modernize Legacy Applications in 2023? [a Step-by-Step Guide]
About healthcare web app development: A Step-by-Step Guide to Healthcare Web Application Development
One of the biggest challenges for medical laboratories is the need to analyze large volumes of data and securely store the data. We can develop a high-performance and reliable telemedicine solution to address medical laboratories’ core needs using cloud capabilities and other modern technologies. Thus, medical laboratories will be able to produce accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive data to improve patient care.
Practicing telehealth, pharmacies can enable long-distance clinical health care via connecting to a network of professional healthcare providers. Such solutions can help them provide medication management services and ensure the safe use of medicines at a distance. In turn, this can help treat patients in a safe and cost-effective way. Plus, government authorities and doctors can easily monitor prescriptions added by pharmacists.
Large clinics and medical networks
For large clinics and healthcare networks, efficiency is key to staying afloat and managing resources wisely. So, telemedicine software development is the solution that can be fully aligned with business needs to achieve the required efficiency in multiple internal processes.
- Building booking and scheduling systems to facilitate the routine processes
- Patient relationship management to boost patient retention and increase loyalty
- Health records systematization to organize the records smartly, reduce human errors and reduce the time for processing
- Paperwork management to reduce paperwork and save money
Various solutions can penetrate an existing healthcare system to improve efficiency and ensure intelligent resource utilization and management.
Key requirements for telemedicine software development in 2023-2024
Telemedicine software requirements are the backbone of high-quality, secure, and compliant telemedicine software. As an expert telemedicine software development company, we prioritize strict adherence to the following requirements.
Regulatory compliance and standards
To ensure compliant and secure telemedicine software, we ensure strict adherence to the following list of regulations and standards:
- GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) – For the EU market, GDPR-enabled telemedicine software is an essential standard for collecting, processing, and securing personal data.
- FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) – This standard describes data formats and an application programming interface for exchanging electronic health records.
- HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) – Mandatory for the US market, these regulations include privacy and security, enforcement, and breach notification rules for healthcare products.
- DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) – A standard protocol for managing and transmitting medical images and other related data that facilitates patient diagnostics.
- SNOMED (Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine) – A standardized vocabulary that provides codes, terms, and definitions used for the electronic exchange of clinical health information.
- CCDA (Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture) – A markup standard to create documents and templates for electronic health records.
More info about other healthcare standards and regulations: Healthcare Software Product Development: Vendors, Standards, and Real Cases
Security and data safety
To ensure hack-proof security and sensitive data protection, we implement the most workable practices to protect telemedicine software.
Some of them are as follows:
- End-to-end data encryption to decrease the possibility of data loss and cyber attacks via AES 128 Bit and SHA 256
- Multi-factor authentication protection to get to the private user details
- Full compliance with all local regulatory standards
- SSL and AES-256 encryption to exchange data over secure HTTP protocol and secure patients’ ePHI
- An expiration policy for a login retry request within a specified time period
- Trusted data center to store sensitive patient information in a secure AWS data center that applies multiple forms of data encryption
- Secure media streams with WebRTC technology
- Automatic backup functionality to prevent data losses and corruption
Video and audio conferencing
A high-quality, secure, and uninterrupted user experience is imperative for all healthcare facilities. The most optimal technologies to meet this core requirement are:
- RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol)
- WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication)
- HLS (HTTP Live Streaming)
A solid streaming experience is a vital attribute the Northell team has in-depth expertise in. For example, for one of our recent projects, we implemented secret messaging and high-quality video conferencing using WebRTC streaming protocols.
EHR/EMR/CRM software integration
EHR software integration with existing telemedicine systems can ensure seamless health records exchange and enrich the app with new functionality. Also, telemedicine software can be a standalone solution with its own CRM/EMR features, video consulting, scheduling, and other features.
Integrating the EHR/EMR/CRM systems provides healthcare facilities quick and secure access to electronic health records from any authorized device. That can help address multiple challenges: reduce paperwork, enable more intelligent patient records management, improve clinical decision-making and patient diagnosing, update sensitive patient data in real time, and more.
At Northell, we build telemedicine software by utilizing secure messaging and encrypted file transfer protocols. This way, we ensure seamless and reliable sensitive data exchange, such as test results and biometric data (or teleradiology images).
Mobile telehealth app development
Mobile applications for telemedicine can be divided into the following categories: apps for patients, apps for healthcare providers, and apps for medical professionals.
- For healthcare providers, using mobile devices, tablets, or wearables is essential to access vital clinical data and streamline patient communication quickly.
- For patients, telemedicine solutions need to be portable when there is a need to track vital health signs and receive alerts when they are out of range.
- For healthcare providers, mobile apps can be helpful for emergency medical care, inventory management, and workload management from a hands-on device.
At Northell, mobile telemedicine solutions are a part of telehealth app development. For one of our recent cases, we developed a mobile telehealth solution that allows users to maintain mental health. The need to build such solutions depends on the unique customer requirements and problems they seek to solve. Using such apps result in more accurate diagnostics and faster clinical decision-making.
Telemedicine software development [Top features for patients]The list of features may vary depending on our customers’ unique product goals and business requirements. However, based on our experience, we’d like to highlight a feature list with the crucial functions most required for patients.
An authorization form allows patients to register and sign in to the telemedicine platform conveniently and securely. Two-step authentication will ensure the proper level of data security. For the login option, we recommend adding additional social registration features via Facebook, Google, and Apple so that users can easily access the app.
Patients should be able to add crucial data to their profiles, such as age, health concerns, contact details, address, location, emergency number, etc. Upon our customer’s request, we can display information about previous visits and the user’s EHR when developing similar solutions.
Medical records storage
Patients should have the capability to upload and download medical records. This feature facilitates effective communication between doctor and patient and speeds up the delivery of medical care.
Real-time communication is the main feature on which the telemedicine solution is based. Patients should communicate with doctors and get effective medical care. Thus, built-in video and audio conferencing and live chats should be of appropriate quality and strong security.
To ensure a stable connection, optimal sound level, and high-quality image transmission, we implement such streaming protocols as:
- RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol)
- WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication)
For our telemedicine project, we have implemented online video conferencing and messaging so that radiology students can communicate with their mentors during the education process and enjoy high-quality video lectures.
Booking and scheduling tools are essential to let patients make, change and cancel an appointment with a doctor. We can integrate a custom calendar or use a built-in calendar (Google Calendar API) for automated scheduling. We also set up automatic notifications that serve as appointment reminders for both patients and medical staff. For example, as soon as the doctor approves the changes, the patient will receive a notification from Google Calendar.
The following important feature is payment gateway integration. Patients need a safe and secure way to make financial transactions.
Focusing on high-level security, we can integrate custom payment systems or third-party systems (Stripe, Braintree, PayPal, etc.). In the latter case, an additional fee will be added for each payment transaction. Thus, we recommend creating custom payment systems, despite the complexity and time required.
Telemedicine software development [Top features for doctors]The feature list for doctors is different from the feature set for the patient. Let’s consider the most common features that we recommend implementing on the doctor’s side.
Similar to patients’ profiles, a doctor’s profile should display all important data: the job title, education, specialization, experience, and more. This helps patients find the specialist they need and builds trust in doctor-patient interactions.
Doctors should be able to manage and approve the appointments requested by patients. They also need to change the schedule based on availability and request priority.
Direct access to the patient’s EHR records provides crucial information for the healthcare provider. Doctors can accurately diagnose patients’ conditions at a distance based on electronic health records. From a technical standpoint, ensuring consistent and secure access to sensitive patient data is paramount.
Telehealth app development implies two-sided communication between patients and doctors. With the help of in-app chats, audio and video conferencing, doctors can remotely provide medical services, detect patients’ symptoms of illness, or monitor the treatment process. So, ensuring the high quality and security of sensitive data transmission is a must-have requirement that a telemedicine software development company should follow.
The core feature essential for doctors to provide healthcare services is prescribing medicines to patients. As a professional software provider, we can integrate telemedicine software with local pharmacies and prescription software to make it possible to write prescriptions.
Telemedicine software development [Top features for admins]
Telehealth software development can also imply the admin’s function list. Administrators are given the most control over many administrative functions in a healthcare organization.
By creating own user profiles, administrators can track who makes changes to the system and set different access levels.
Patient profile management
Admins must also access patient profiles to edit information, view their financial status, and upload new medical records.
Doctor profile management
Having access to doctors’ profiles, admins can monitor doctors’ availability, schedule appointments, or deactivate an account if needed.
Admins also require access to see and manage the financial history of patients or send alerts.
Admins can get an essential insight into the telemedicine platform’s performance via the analytics dashboard. Admins can track the number of virtual visits, revenue, and other vital performance indicators.
EHR system integration
Admins should be able to manage the telemedicine software with the EHR system and solve related problems if required.
Another vital feature for the admin’s side is the ability to manage the app’s notification system. This way, admins can notify doctors and users of upcoming appointments and set up alerts.
Telemedicine software development process in 7 steps
Depending on telemedicine software functionality and scale, the telemedicine software development process may differ. However, we’d like to focus on core development and show you how this process works at Northell as a whole.
Step 1. Requirements gathering and software planning
During the initial stage, the first step is to decide the primary goal of the future product or the value the telemedicine solution will bring to end users. For example, when working on the telemedicine project, our primary goal was to create an online telemedicine platform for effective and high-quality remote education in interpreting x-rays and patient diagnoses. Therefore, the core value is an improved learning process and an all-in-one online solution for remote knowledge sharing and advanced training in radiology.
So, depending on the problem our customer intends to solve, we identify the next steps.
For product companies, we thoroughly identify the target audience and conduct in-depth market and competitor research. We carefully analyze the target audience to understand what software features will help address their needs. During competitor research, we analyze the direct competitors’ weak and strong sides to find a solution that will stay ahead of the market competition. For healthcare organizations, we first identify core business needs and elicit our customers’ requirements for telehealth software development.
In telemedicine software development, it’s vital to list and prioritize the main software features like real-time video interaction, advanced analytics, etc. The other crucial things to consider are high-level integrations (e.g., EHR, Health Information Exchange, etc.), compliance requirements for obligatory regulations (e.g., HIPAA, GDPR, etc.), tech stack selection, and required software licenses.
Step 2. Business analysis, project planning, and documentation
In the following business analysis and project planning stage, the business analyst checks how the project concept matches our customers’ business goals. Then, they identify the project scope and prepare a project specification that covers:
- Project iterations and milestones
- Development methodology
- Team structure
- Risk mitigation plan design
- Core features
- Telemedicine design specifics
- Third-party integrations
- Tech stack
Our team can estimate the project’s budget and schedule based on this project specification. After that, we set up a meeting with our customer to approve further development.
Step 3. Custom UI/UX design
After agreeing on the project and software concept, our UI/UX designers come into play. They start with planning and picturing user experience. First, designers define the primary app personas (e.g., radiology student, radiology mentor, and admin, as in our NDA project).
Next, they identify user scenarios, visualize the main features for telehealth app development and map out the convenient customer journey for all app personas (e.g., patients, doctors, nurses, etc.). Designers create UX wireframes and conduct user testing to identify gaps in logic and make improvements early on.
The following vital design part is to develop UI prototypes to visualize how the app will look and perform. During the UI design stage, Northell’s design team creates all graphic interface components, including the choice of the primary color palette, typography, iconography, logos, and images.
Step 4. Development
The core development stage entails the diligent work of high-skilled software engineers. Depending on the project’s scope of work, we assign (2+ developers) to implement the server side of the application, APIs, and business logic and transform UI design into a functioning user side.
At Northell, we adhere to the Agile methodology to make the process flexible to changing customer requirements and, at the same time, meet strict deadlines. We perform continuous testing once the feature is ready to deploy to reduce the development costs and time to release.
Step 5. Testing
As mentioned, we run the testing simultaneously with telehealth app development. During this process, we check functional requirements, spot defects, verify software security, and test for regulatory compliance like HIPAA. We also perform software stability checks and usability testing within our UX lab. Our testers use the UX Eye Tracker to prevent usability gaps by exploring user behavior while interacting with the product.
QA engineers record test results in a bug report and transfer them to developers to improve the software.
Step 6. Deployment
Once the testing stage is over, the development team gradually deploys the product to the focus group (e.g., a group of patients or doctors) and all project stakeholders for testing and acquiring feedback. During deployment, we achieve honest feedback and keep improving the telehealth app accordingly if needed.
Besides, by choosing to create a minimum viable product (MVP), you can protect your business from potential losses. At Northell, the process is simple: we develop core app features with a simple UI/UX design, test the app, gather feedback, and move on to implementing advanced functionality if the idea is profitable.
Step 7. Maintenance
Telemedicine software requires ongoing attention and support due to its complex nature. So, it’s better to continue productive cooperation with a telemedicine software development company.
Northell is ready to offer continuous post-release support in fixing revealed bugs, performing regular telehealth software security audits (e.g., PHI security, HIPAA compliance, etc.), rolling out new features, improving performance, and upgrading the software.
Telemedicine software development [Software architecture and data flow]
A telemedicine system architecture can be split into four major components: clients, communication components, APIs and business logic, storage and infrastructure. Let’s describe each layer in detail.
A client is an interface, telemedicine app, or software a user interacts with. For example, the telemedicine platform has at least three clients – patients, doctors, and admins. Choosing a technology to build these “clients” depends on what platform we build – web, mobile, cross-platform, or several options.
The core feature of telemedicine software is real-time communication via video streaming, audio, live chat, or both. For the US market, since any type of communication between a patient and a medical practitioner is considered PHI (Protected Health Information), it is subject to HIPAA compliance.
HIPAA compliance is a federal law that protects sensitive patient information from unauthorized disclosure without the patient’s consent. Therefore, the telemedicine platform should follow all security measures to meet HIPAA requirements or other local regulations.
APIs and business logic
The clients we discussed above should be able to communicate with each other, back-end databases, and third-party software.
This is done via API and business logic layers, encompassing many different microservices. The internal microservices are each responsible for various tasks: video communication through WebRTC or Websocket protocol for web apps, identity authorization through an SSO (Single Sign On) service, etc. Back-end developers can also use microservices to implement relevant and useful external APIs to make the software functionality quicker and more effective.
The business logic layer is responsible for communicating between the client and server. This logic determines how data is transformed, calculated, stored and how it is routed. The APIs and business logic also imply telemedicine software integration with third-party systems like the EHR.
Storage and infrastructure
The storage and infrastructure services usually consist of cloud-based services such as AWS, Azure, or IBM Cloud. The cloud-based services host the API and business layer, store data, and manage IT infrastructure.
It is important to note that choosing a HIPAA-compliant cloud service, for example, is crucial due to the storage of secure patient information. To such cloud services that have robust security settings and meet the HIPAA compliance requirements, we attribute AWS and Azure.
Telemedicine software development [Tech stack]
The choice of a telemedicine software architecture design and technologies largely depends on the software requirements, available budget, and the development team’s experience. Based on our experience in a healthcare niche, we prioritize using the below technologies and tools for efficient telemedicine software development and secure PHI storage and processing.
|Product requirements||Discovery workshops with G-Suite representatives|
|Design and prototypes||Figma|
Frameworks – React.js, Vue.js
|Back-end development||Programming languages – Python, C++, PHP, Java, Go
Frameworks – Node.js, PHP (Laravel), Express
|Cross-platform app development||Programming languages – Kotlin, Swift, Dart
Frameworks – React Native, Flutter
|Native IOS app development||Programming languages – Swift
Frameworks – Core Data
IDEs – Xcode
|Native Android app development||Programming languages – Kotlin, Java
Frameworks – Android UI
IDEs – Android Studio
|Database||MongoDB, MySQL, Redis|
|CMSs||Drupal, WordPress, SharePoint, Pimcore|
|Telehealcth and secure messaging||Twilio|
|Payment and insurance||Stripe, Braintree, PayPal|
|Architecture designs||Microservices-based, service-oriented, cloud-native, traditional 3-layer|
Contact us so we can tailor the tech stack to suit your unique project goals and financial capabilities.
Challenges in telehealth software development
In building telemedicine software, our main goal is to oversee potential complexities that can arise in the process. Technical limitations, security gaps, and legal restrictions are subject to our prior review. Let’s consider what challenges telemedicine software providers commonly encounter.
Insufficient data security
Problem: Dealing with tons of personal and medical patient data requires using trusted technologies, proven frameworks, and regulatory compliance. Otherwise, neglecting security and compliance requirements may result in illegal data exploitation, security breaches, and huge law violation penalties.
Solution: To ensure robust protection of sensitive patient data and strong software security, we adhere to such practices:
- During software planning, we analyze the list of regulatory standards the telemedicine solution must comply with (e.g., HIPAA, HITECH, FDA, etc.)
- Use high-level encryption to prevent data loss and cyber attacks
- Conduct regular checks for potential vulnerabilities during software upgrades
- Provide highly secure authentication methods
Lack of scalability
Problem: The scale of telemedicine software development can often be a challenge for a team with little experience. That’s why we should always anticipate the growing user demand.
Solution: We recommend collaborating with the development team after the official release so that they can regularly analyze and optimize the code and automatically scale server resources.
Complex backend implementation
Problem: As we discussed above, the backend side of the software is responsible for rapid and successful data synchronization. Preventing this will result in poor performance and software inconsistencies.
Solution: Ensure you have a team of seasoned back-end developers to ensure they studied software architecture and third-party integrations before the development begins.
Misuse of streaming protocols
Problem: The next possible challenge is a poor video and audio quality. The invalid code and bandwidth issues can result in poor video quality or low sounds level. In the worst case, this may result in incorrect symptom interpretation and diagnosis.
Solution: Make sure you work with an experienced IT vendor to ensure solid streaming quality and proper use of the streaming protocols.
Outsourcing to a telemedicine software development company [Pros & cons]
Below, we’d like to highlight the pros and cons of each outsourcing model to help you find the best-fit cooperation model.
In-house telehealth app development
Сhoosing to create an in-house team requires substantial time, financial resources, and complete control over the project. If you employ an in-house software development team, you’ll need to take care of multiple aspects: monthly payroll, office expenses, social package, sick and vacation payments, legal issues, etc.
By outsourcing telehealth app development partially, you can augment your existing team with the required specialists. At the same time, you can hire self-organized, committed, and experienced professionals from a specialized development agency or online platforms with less effort and expenses.
Full outsourcing for a telemedicine software development company
Fully outsourced telehealth app development prevents you from being directly involved in recruitment, management, and development. In other words, the outsourcing company takes full responsibility for team hiring, management, and project delivery.
Find out what the hiring and recruiting process looks like in our recent guide: How To Hire An App Developer Without Mistakes? [Complete 2023 Guide]
About hiring a dedicated software development team: How to Hire a Dedicated Software Development Team?
Work with an expert telemedicine software development company [Northell’s case]
Our telemedicine project is the training department of one of the largest clinics in Western Europe, providing expert teleradiology and telepathology services. The customer reached out to Northell to build a feature-rich online telemedicine platform that helps individual students and other medical clinics diagnose patients by interpreting x-rays.
Our team collected all the entry requirements from our customer and identified specific challenges for further work:
- Redevelop and implement a fast and reliable x-ray interpretation process
- Provide a scalable architecture to seamlessly adapt to traffic load
- Ensure high application security and data privacy
- Create an easy-to-use, intuitive user interface and engaging user experience
- Comply with the GDPR’s key regulations and requirements
As the result of cohesive teamwork, we’ve built such features:
- Easy log in/sign up in two quick options: via login and password and by email
- Radiologist dashboard where diagnosticians can view several sections: radiology sections, image reporting simulator, microlearning simulator, webinars, and online video courses
- Image reporting simulator where users can practice on real anonymous cases online
- Webinars library for easy user access
- Online video conferencing and messaging to connect students with radiology mentors via reliable communication protocols
- Text chat for more accessible communication and site navigation
- A payment system that allows users to securely pay for purchases through the platform by card or bank transfer
- Quiz or questionnaire users can take to check how well they have understood the material
As a result, with the help of our team, the online platform was transformed into a fully-fledged, feature-rich, and high-quality telemedicine solution with LMS functionality and reliable streaming options. Beginners, practicing radiologists, and clinics can quickly upskill qualifications in radiology and x-ray interpretation using this innovative online tool while enjoying user-friendly design.
How much does it cost to develop a telemedicine app?
The next questions to answer are how much does it cost to develop a telemedicine app and how long does it take to release. So, the cost of building telehealth software depends on numerous factors:
- Healthcare software type (web, mobile, or desktop)
- Functionality scope + the number of supported platforms (IOS, Android) and complexities of features
- Telehealth software integration with other third-party systems ( e.g., EHR) or remote monitoring devices
- Storage capacity
- Scalability and performance requirements
- Location of your development team
At Northell, we divide the development process into four major phases where our customers often need professional help. In the picture below, you can look at rough costs based on the project stage and team location.
The total healthcare software cost may start at $50,000.
For more information on project timelines, below you can also see Northell’s timeline calculations based on project size and stage.
In any case, the Northell team is ready to calculate the cost of your telemedicine software and provide its ROI. Get a project estimate.
Telemedicine software development: Key takeaways
Telemedicine software development is a multilayered process that implies thorough preparation and analysis of the crucial business and technical aspects. Despite the problem your business seeks to solve or the value you’d like to provide, there are specific telemedicine software requirements you need to meet to ensure the solution is legally compliant and secure and delivers a high-quality streaming experience.
As a company specializing in the healthcare niche, security, and compliance, we are ready to become your official telemedicine software provider. We help businesses of any scale, demand, and need. We can consult you or develop the telehealth solution with a tailored set of functions for virtual care delivery from scratch. Get a consultation and launch the project!