Telehealth Software: How Medicine Is Disrupted By The New Trend
For a long time, telehealth has been considered a controversial concept. Some think distant consultations lead to the dehumanization of care and depreciate the role of brick-and-mortar medical institutions in the healthcare industry.
However, now we see that the world is urged to be remote-friendly, and many life activities are moving online. Healthcare is no exception.
In fact, telehealth software is a new way of connecting patients and caregivers through the effective and highly-organized network and modern means of communication.
The interest in the telehealth market is piqued by the coronavirus events. In response to COVID-19 threat, the Trump administration removed telehealth regulations to expand virtual healthcare services for free to those with Medicare.
One of the critical points of the new regulation is that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has temporarily loosened HIPAA privacy restrictions. Doctors can use FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts to connect with patients during the coronavirus outbreak.
Uninsured people can benefit from low-cost doctor visits via telemedicine apps such as Amwell, HeyDoctor, or PlushCare. These companies are reporting the exponential growth of online appointments since coronavirus arrived.
The stats shows that telehealth software development is likely to increase even further. The need for staying home and getting qualified help apart from the coronavirus, will rise.
The reason is simple: remote medicine is very convenient, you get the same doctor’s opinions and follow-ups yet not being tied to any place in the world.
Hospitals, in their turn, may benefit from lesser load and fewer no-shows caused by rescheduling or quarantine. This helps healthcare organizations to grow their revenue and expand the reach of their care.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is the application of technology and communications to provide remote care for patients.
The ultimate goal of telehealth software was to help in emergency situations where there’s no access to medical institutions. For example, when a doctor is on an emergency home visit and needs advice from a narrowly focused specialist, doctor, he can get a remote help with the help of video streaming apps and connected devices.
It’s natural to think of telehealth as remote consultations. However, it expands over that and includes online therapy, teleneurology, teleradiology, teledermatology and more.
Telehealth app development is popular in medical practices now for a number of reasons:
- Worldwide availability of medical services.
- Fast and convenient medical care delivery.
- Unified medical record keeping.
- Efficient scheduling and time management.
- Standardized patient monitoring system.
- Organized administrative task management.
What types of telehealth apps are there?
As I have mentioned, the most common case for the telehealth app is video conferencing with a doctor. Such a solution incorporates web or mobile apps with audio-, videostreaming or CTI, along with the messaging system and the ability to share files and connect to the wearables.
Ultimately, telehealth platforms can be broadly divided into three groups:
Remote patient monitoring platforms
Remote monitoring includes sharing and storing patient data collected by connected devices. Most of the solutions rely on cloud-based workflow.
Asynchronous telehealth platforms
This software needs to have features like patient profiles, messaging, EMR storage, payment processing. It’s critical that patient data transfer channels are secure.
Synchronous telehealth platforms
These solutions are known for the ability of real-time interaction with a client or online networking with another specialist.
Common telemedicine app features
Analyzing the telehealth solutions on the market, I tried to choose the most useful and effective features for virtual care appointments and remote medicine. Here’s what I got:
1. Videostreaming and audiostreaming
Remote treatment is impossible without video visits, and real-time HIPAA-compliant video and audio calls have proven to be more effective than recorded ones. They are used in two common cases:
- Virtual doctor-patient consultations through audio/video conferences with multiple participants.
The important feature here is the ability to save or download video consultations. These files can be added to the patient’s personal profile and used to track the progress of the clinical record.
- Doctor-to-doctor telenetworking that allow one physician to refer to the relevant specialist.
The remote collaboration between doctors is a great way to ensure that a patient gets the right remote treatment. Physicians can exchange working materials remotely. The right specialist reads the right study, analysis or picture to and reply with a relevant diagnosis or recommendation.
2. Text messaging
Usually, telemedicine apps have a standard one-to-one messenger for communication between doctors and patients. This functionality could be enough for an MVP, but a fully functional telemedicine platform development should include advanced features, such as:
- A multi-user chat.
- A chatbot with FAQ and rapid scheduling.
- File sharing, video and image sharing.
3. IoT and connected devices
Remember that implementing a messenger in a healthcare app requires more effort and time than the usual one. It needs to comply with security regulations and protect communication and data sharing with high-standard security messaging protocols.
IoT and wearable technology
Telehealth concept is very similar to the Internet of things. They both have a network of physical objects for collecting and exchanging data.
However, even though doctors can see some visual symptoms of illness remotely, they cannot measure a patient’s temperature, blood pressure or level of blood sugar. If a patient has a certain level of competency to measure this metrics by himself, telehealth is ever more powerful with connected devices.
That being said, the main advantages of IoT in telemedicine solutions are:
- Access to the results from wearable for remote patient care and monitoring.
- Personal patient education and faster, fact-based generation of prescriptions.
4. EMR/EHR Integration
EMR (Electronic Medical Record) or EHR(Electronic Health Record) is a must-have feature for tracking and managing patient records and medical history in the specific healthcare institution or in general.
In the telehealth software system, these records allow doctors to fill in patient’s information right after the remote visit. Patients, in their turn, can visit an integrated patient portal and view what has changed since the last visit, there.
5. Payment system integration
Reimbursement for a telehealth treatment is a complicated process. Anyway, any telehealth software solution should have an advanced medical billing system in place.
Integrated medical billing systems help healthcare providers to generate electronic bills and manage patient payments and co-payments.
6. Analytics and Reporting
One of the main challenges for telehealth software companies is managing huge volumes of data that come from various sources.
An ideal telehealth management solution should have predictive analytics, that is built on the previous patient history and historical events. Predictive analytics algorithm should define data relationships and make the system can predict potential medical outcomes.
Gametech is quite a new trend that is widely adopted by multiple telehealth software providers. The most popular use cases include educational games for patients and health workers as well as motion and nutrition tracking apps for telefitness or remote rehabilitation.
8. Virtual reality
VR technology is widely used in telehealth for the imitation of physical presence during the remote appointment. Other use cases include remote or augmented surgery, medical visualization, and rehabilitation in neural psychology.
Monetization of Telemedicine Software
There are several healthcare app business models that allow for monetization in a broad range of ways, from advertising and in-app purchases to sponsorship and donations. We’ll overview the main of them:
One of the most popular ways to monetize a healthcare app is through the subscription model. Doctors and/or patients pay for membership and the app publisher gets their fees.
The doctor can charge their fees per minute or per visit. In this case, the app charges some percentage, like in Uber-like apps.
For telehealth consulting, such a fee can vary depending on the specifics of provided services, doctor specialization or duration of the consultation.
A telehealth platform can also be distributed as a franchise. This is especially relevant to those software products that have a lot of competition on the local market so that they are willing to sell their apps overseas.
Software as a service model is a great fit for product development companies in the health tech industry. A lot of representatives from healthcare establishments are googling how much it costs to develop a telemedicine app.
You can offer them a telehealth platform in the form of service and charge per account/per user.
If you decided to launch a telehealth app, you definitely need an experienced medical software development company. Our team will help you to provide good quality for your product.
Our team has worked on a couple of healthcare software development projects following best practices in the industry and innovation technologies.
It’s obvious that telehealth apps are the new reality of modern medicine. People are urged to obey social distancing, yet get quality health care and be in touch with their doctor.
Coronavirus crisis has shown a strong gap in the patient demand to get remote help and the online availability of doctors. That’s why there’s much for the health tech market to offer.
If you need any telemedicine or other healthcare software solutions, let us know, we’ll help you with custom healthcare software development!
And take care of yourself!
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