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Telemedicine App Development: Why opt for it and what challenges to expect

Telemedicine app

Editor’s Note: As more and more of ScienceSoft’s customers express interest in telemedicine app solutions, our Web and Mobile Researcher Anastasia Yaskevich shares her expertise in telehealth apps, reasons to opt for them and peculiarities of their development. Read on and turn to ScienceSoft’s healthcare IT consultants to shape your custom telehealth solution.

I’ve been in healthcare IT for 5 years and I’m amazed at how the industry transforms with IT despite its rigidity. While patients’ portals replace phone calls (42% of users prefer to make an appointment online), EHR systems take place of paper records (87% of office-based physicians already use EHRs to access patient data, Black Book says).

In my opinion, however, the most revolutionary offer is the healthcare app development of telemedicine software. Mobile telehealth apps allow both patients and doctors to avoid the possible inconveniences of a hospital visit and substitute it with remote communication.

Data obtained by C2 solutions shows that almost 75% of hospital visits are very basic and can be easily handled via a phone or a video call. In other words, the time and money that 3/4 of patients spend to arrive at a healthcare facility are a meaningless expenditure.

On the other hand, our customers admit that a hospital visit isn’t always an available option. Many counties face a shortage of certain specialists or of healthcare facilities overall, hence, the constant overload and long waits. In these conditions, it’s common for patients to wait for their appointment for weeks, and for doctors – to work overtime.

For all of those reasons, the majority of ScienceSoft’s customers turn to telemedicine app development as a hands-on alternative to hospital visits. From the feedback we receive, telehealth apps create a better schedule for healthcare professionals, save the time of the 75% of patients who do not need a physical examination, as well as give better access to healthcare for the people who live in underserved rural areas.

Real-time consultation

Real-time consultation

In cases of minor or repetitive incidents, patients may already know the correct diagnosis, so what they need is simply a professional confirmation. Alternatively, when patients are unsure about the causes of their symptoms, they may get paranoid and come up with the gravest conclusions.

When consulting ScienceSoft’s customers, my colleague Alena Nikuliak offers relevant functionality for their telemedicine apps. She believes that getting in touch with a healthcare professional via a telemedicine app can be even more effective than an in-person appointment in both of these cases. Instead of a few days of waiting, travelling and overthinking, it will only take from a few minutes to a few hours for a patient to hear an opinion of a professional.

ScienceSoft, for example, has designed a HIPAA-compliant Android version of the Chiron Health platform. In this app, to book an e-visit, a patient should first answer a few questions regarding their symptoms and then scroll through a list of available doctors who are competent to address the issue. After choosing one of the specialists, a person can book an e-visit or conduct a video-consultation for the most convenient time or take as little as 15 minutes off work to talk to the doctor in their smartphone and put their mind at ease.

Photo-based consultation

Photo-based consultation

The doctors I work with, especially dermatologists, admit that they are able to diagnose a patient within the first two seconds of visual contact. In-person examinations of skin problems, bruises, eye infections and similar conditions with visible symptoms are often unnecessary; a consultation via a store-and-forward telehealth app is more than enough.

The way ScienceSoft’s consultants recommend it to our customers, after a patient fills in a small questionnaire, the app needs to allow them to take a photo of the problematic spot and send it to a healthcare professional. All the requests with photos and additional information are stored on a separate server and can only be accessed from a doctor’s app. While going over these requests at a designated time, healthcare professionals can establish a diagnosis and message it to a patient along with a treatment plan. If a doctor needs more information, they can schedule a video call with their patient or send lab test orders via the app.

Medication advice

As the experience of the health services managers I work with shows, some patients may have questions regarding their medication, especially after having it prescribed for the first time. They may notice some side effects or want to know if they can decrease the dose after all acute symptoms have disappeared. The mere thought of planning a hospital appointment simply to ask these questions may be frustrating enough for a patient to eventually take the risk and make a decision on their own.

I strongly believe that hospitals should provide their patients with a convenient way to get medication advice to prevent any unwanted consequences. We at ScienceSoft usually implement telemedicine apps that allow a patient to send a photo of their medication prescription and either type their question in a message or book a call with a doctor to ask them directly.

Prescription renewal

Health professionals I work with often say that the visits where a patient needs to get a renewed prescription are the most frustrating ones, especially for those suffering from chronic diseases. Although a doctor still needs to inquire about their condition, there’s usually not much new information, and the outcome of the visit usually boils down to the same piece of paper.

To help doctors and patients avoid such useless visits, we design the telemedicine apps that allow a patient to renew their prescription even on the day they’ve run out of medication. After scheduling an e-visit, a patient discusses their condition with a doctor and gets a renewed prescription sent straight to their app. Later, they can print it out or show the electronic version in the drug store.

Ready to get a telemedicine app?

Turn to ScienceSoft’s healthcare IT consultants and get your custom telehealth app.

Telemedicine development challenges

UI/UX implementation

From the use cases above, it’s clear that we usually create two somewhat different apps for each app concept. One is an app for patients, and the other – for doctors. Since they will have different functionality, they should have different user interfaces too. Still, we preserve style consistency and provide great user experience in both apps.

Back-end integration

For both apps to communicate, we integrate them with a back end – a separately developed server that mediates data exchange between patients’ and doctors’ apps. Upon integration, we make sure that both types of apps address encrypted requests to the server in order to send or receive information. In this communication, we use the most secure data exchange protocols for the app to be fully HIPAA-compliant and protect patients’ sensitive data.

Telehealth reimbursement

Currently, all 50 states and DC have some form of telehealth parity laws that allow all healthcare professionals to charge for remote patient care (although the reimbursement extent for telemedicine services is not so clear in some states). To make this process easy for both parties, we create custom mobile apps that offer patients secure card payment or Medicare/Medicaid insurance as well as help doctors with the CPT/HCPCS codes and 95/GT modifiers during billing.

According to the data by the Health Industry Distribution Association, 71% of patients are open to telemedicine. Among those who already had an e-visit once, 95% believe that it was a great experience, with 54% of them even preferring it to an in-person visit. The reason for that isn’t just convenience and the feeling of a condition not being serious. A lot of patients using telehealth apps point out that their doctors are more relaxed and involved during an e-visit.

However, the development of a telemedicine app has a number of peculiarities. To take care of telemedicine app peculiarities including proper UI/UX implementation, backend integration, and telehealth reimbursement, the professional help of an experienced vendor with a background in mHealth app development would be of use. If this sounds reasonable to you, feel free to drop us a line.

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