August 24, 2021

A Software Developer’s Guide to Telemedicine App Development

Nabeel Keblawi

A Software Developer’s Guide to Telemedicine App Development

Telemedicine is a new and emerging field, and one of the most important factors in determining its success will be how well it fits into people's lives. Developing a successful telemedicine app is a complex process that takes into account many variables, including the selection of your target user groups, building the right backend architecture, choosing a robust development framework, and everything in between. 

There are many important decisions to make before even the first line of code is written. To help you with the decision-making process, this guide will give you all the information you need to develop your own telemedicine app.

We'll start with an overview of telemedicine apps currently on the market, and then we'll dig into some considerations before you decide to build your own. We'll follow that with a detailed process for developing your own telemedicine application. 

Introduction to Telemedicine Apps

Telemedicine apps are an emerging vital development for the healthcare industry. With a telemedicine app, patients can connect and communicate with doctors remotely while away from their clinic or hospital.

It is important to note there are three primary user interfaces for these apps: for healthcare providers(doctors and nurses), patients and healthcare administrators, such as billing.

Top Three Telemedicine Apps

The following are examples of the best telemedicine apps currently on the market. Available on both iOS and Android, these have been used by thousands of people, including both patients and doctors.

1. Doctor-on-Demand

Doctor On Demand is a U.S.-based mobile healthcare app offering board-certified physicians for in-home video consultations in non-emergency situations such as upper respiratory infections, sports injuries, allergies, back pain, and pediatric problems. People using this app can access doctors for prescriptions and answers to their health questions. One of its most useful features, HealthKit, allows doctors to virtually check the vitals of their patients such as blood pressure and temperature.

2. Teladoc

Most mobile telemedicine apps give you access to doctors, but specialists with expertise on specific ailments are hard to find. Supported globally, Teladoc solves this issue by connecting its users with a doctor or surgeon certified in their field, including neurologists and radiologists. One of the most useful aspects of Teladoc is that it allows users to seek a second opinion from a qualified specialist.

3. PEPID

As a cloud storage and digital solution for pharmacies in the U.S., PEPID is one of the best telemedicine apps that allows easy communication between patients and their pharmacists and for prescription processing all through the mobile application. PEPID aims to make medical information more accessible by connecting pharmacists with their customers to make filling prescriptions easier and more convenient for everyone.

Types of Telemedicine Apps

As not all telemedicine apps are created equal, note the different types of apps available before deciding to develop one for your own business or organization. There are three main types of telemedicine applications currently on the market:

  1. Interactive Apps
  2. Remote Patient Monitoring Apps
  3. Click-and-Send Apps

Interactive Apps

These are exactly what they sound like — telemedicine apps like Amwell, SnapMD and others that enable audio and video consultations between medical professionals and patients anywhere in the country.

Interactive telemedicine apps work best for use in cases such as:

  • Preoperative consultations
  • Post-discharge surgical follow-ups
  • Post-injury patient monitoring
  • CBT and other mental therapies
  • Lactation consultation for nursing mothers

Remote Patient Monitoring

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) employs the latest technologies to gather, store and analyze patients’ medical data remotely. RPM apps use IoT to automatically monitor and record patients’ vital signs and medical data. In this way, healthcare providers can identify patterns affecting their patients’ health.

For example, Dexcom sells continuous glucose monitors to help diabetic patients proactively work with their healthcare providers to treat their conditions. Another example is enabling hypertensive patients to share daily blood pressure data with their monitoring physicians. 

Click-and-Send

Including interactive features in a telemedicine app can become expensive for individual practitioners or small clinics. This is where click-and-send telemedicine apps come in. For instance, they allow patients to send photos or videos about their health issues. Doctors can quickly scrutinize these and offer a medical remedy enabling patients to save money on consultation charges.

One click-and-send app, GoodRx, empowers patients to manage their prescriptions, compare drug prices and save on their refills.

The Future of Telemedicine Apps

Many underlying trends, including in-app chat and video conferencing, are here to stay, and thus the market for telemedicine apps of different types and purposes is growing. 

Telemedicine was already on the rise before the pandemic but has surged throughout 2020 and early 2021. Thanks to the technological advances that birthed telemedicine, we found that 75% of in-person doctor visits turned out to be unnecessary and could have been handled over video. 

In short, telemedicine has a healthy future with an increasingly robust telemedicine app market lowering our out-of-pocket medical costs while increasing the efficiency of the overall healthcare system.

Latest Technologies Used in Telemedicine Apps 

Recent telemedicine app development trends show that emerging technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and IoT are making in-roads with the latest telemedicine apps.

The following technologies show much promise or are already being used in telemedicine apps through certain APIs and frameworks:

Artificial Intelligence

AI is increasingly being added to telemedicine applications. Language processing, chatbots, voice recognition, and machine learning are making healthcare services more personalized than ever before.

As AI analyzes medical records and patient healthcare data, it can help doctors make predictions about the well-being of their patients, develop personalized treatment protocols and enhance preventative care through telehealth. One virtual reality nursing application, Sense.ly, checks on patients’ vital signs and uses embedded AI technology to record and funnel the results back to their doctors. Another app using AI is ADA, where it asks patients simple questions to help classify their symptoms and assist doctors in making a diagnosis (SwissCognitive, 2021).

Machine Learning

Data mining and machine learning algorithms are increasingly being used to identify signs of cancer or other diseases early, leading to improved patient outcomes. WebMD also uses machine learning in its popular ‘symptom checker’ feature as well as drug interactions, conditions, side effects, and obtaining physician-reviewed information on demand (SwissCognitive, 2021).

Machine learning can utilize convolutional neural networks to analyze images such as x-rays, CT and MRI scans to quickly diagnose uncommon and rare diseases without putting patients through a battery of tests.

Big Data

Medical records are becoming increasingly difficult to manage. Teladoc uses big data analysis on electronic medical records (EMRs) to improve healthcare systems and reduce errors in medical diagnoses, treatments, and billing. In the long term, this cuts costs for both providers and patients while improving health outcomes.

Blockchain

Blockchain technology is a great tool to store and securely exchange medical data as opposed to paper records. Medical records using cryptographic hashes as block identifiers, as opposed to personally identifiable information, would be immutable and tamper-proof, thus providing more patient protection. One telemedicine app built in France, Blockpharma, uses blockchain to help patients verify that medicines are not counterfeit before taking them.

“A large portion of today's telehealth and telemedicine systems are centralized and fall short of providing necessary information security and privacy, operational transparency, health records immutability, and traceability to detect frauds related to patients' insurance claims and physician credentials” (NIH, 2021). 

However, blockchain can facilitate information access while protecting patient privacy and preventing fraud, according to Dr. David Randall at the American Research and Policy Institute.

Internet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT) devices for telemedicine equipment include wearables, tablets, medical kiosks, digital cameras, and smartwatches, etc. IoT technology underpins the basis for remote patient monitoring (RPM).

IoT interacts with the human body to track vitals, helping patients adhere to medication, enabling doctors to monitor treatment. IoT devices like wearables can be integrated into telemedicine app development for personalized patient care. In one example, BabyScripts is a mobile app that utilizes IoT-based remote monitoring tools to reduce the number of in-person prenatal visits while filling in the gaps of maternity care for at-risk populations.

Features of a Telemedicine App

You can choose to develop an app for patients only, in which case, you'd include features that only patients would need. However, to develop an app that includes different groups of users, you will need to include telemedicine app features that cater to these groups in the healthcare system: physicians, patients, and healthcare administrators.

Features for Doctors

For physicians, you will want to include telemedicine app features for doctors like scheduling an appointment, requesting patient information, uploading images or documents and entering patient data, including diagnostic and procedure codes in their EHR system.

Features for Patients

Telemedicine app features for patients can include sharing medical histories and health information with their physicians, scheduling appointments, and attending video consultations with their doctors.

Features for Healthcare Administrators

For general hospital staff or healthcare administrators, an app can be a great way to enable search for a patient’s record and past visits and request medical records from other doctors in the area. They would also be able to securely share important information with both doctors and patients, including changes in schedules, setting up appointments, emergency alerts, facilitating co-payments, and much more.

Factors to Consider Before Building Your Own Telemedicine App

Before you start building a telemedicine app, you need a product strategy and roadmap and a development strategy since there are several factors to consider. 

First, you need to decide on your budget and the type of app that will work for your telemedicine practice. There are three different types:

  • Apps used by medical professionals without patient interaction
  • Patient-facing apps
  • Hybrid apps used by both providers and patients

Once you decide on the type of app you want to build, you’ll want to explore the following factors before you begin the development cycle:

  1. User needs and challenges
  2. Market and competitor research
  3. Core value proposition and differentiators
  4. Decide on a single app or separate apps for doctors and patients
  5. How to monetize your telemedicine app

1. User Needs and Challenges

As a doctor's needs are different from a patient's, this can create a discrepancy in what they need from their app user interface. Doctors are often concerned about running their practice and managing the health of their patients, so they need an interface with more menu options and additional workflows than the average patient might require for their day-to-day use of the app.

The features patients need when using the telemedicine app may depend on how much they know about their health. For example, patients won't need to know the procedure codes for diagnostic and billing purposes, but they will most likely need to see their prescriptions and refills. It's important to consider these differences when building your telemedicine app for both doctors or patients.

2. Market and Competitor Research 

Before developing your telemedicine app, do some market research on your competitors in the current telemedicine app market. Understanding the competitive landscape and building on your strengths will give you an advantage in building your app. 

One of the most important factors to consider is whether or not there actually is demand for what you're building. Pre-development market research will help you gauge the needs of potential users, know what they want from a telemedicine app and identify key features to include in your own product.

You may be able to find gaps in features being offered by other telemedicine apps and use these to differentiate your product, or you may find that the market is saturated with very similar products. For example, you may find that nearly every app offers video consultations, but too few offer locator directories of specialists for a specific health condition, providing an opportunity for you to offer a feature that the market lacks.

3. Your Core Value Proposition and Differentiators

To build a successful telemedicine app that carves out a permanent place in a fast-growing marketplace of telemedicine technologies, make your app stand out with some unique differentiators and a strong value proposition.

Here are five questions that are worth exploring before you proceed with your app development plan:

  1. Will your app have a certain feature not offered by any other app? 
  1. Will it have a revolutionary user experience that simplifies healthcare? 
  1. Will it be exclusive to a specific user segment? 
  1. What are the core values you want to incorporate into your telemedicine app? 
  1. What makes your offer unique compared to other similar types of apps? 

Insights from these questions will allow you to help your potential market become familiar with your app and help them understand the scope of your offer. 

As potential users evaluate different telemedicine apps based on their own needs and objectives, they could find several things about how you do business that makes you unique.

4. Should You Build Separate Apps for Doctors and Patients or a Single App?

If you're considering the option of building and maintaining two separate apps — one telemedicine app for patients and one for doctors — be aware of the pros and cons of doing so.

Pros

  • Simpler to design
  • Fewer features to build
  • Clearer value proposition for each set of users

Cons

  • Can be costly and time-consuming
  • Needs separate updates for both apps
  • Creates an interaction barrier between patients and doctors

Building a telemedicine app exclusively for doctors may be easier because some physicians may still be uncomfortable with technology, or their hospitals or clinics don't yet use electronic health records (EHRs). Additionally, your app will need to offer different features and functions than an app designed for patients.

Best of Both Worlds?

If you want to build a single app but also keep different functionalities for doctors and patients, you could do one of two things:

  1. Build two separate apps united by a single infrastructure backend, or
  2. Create two types of profiles in a single app.

Your choice depends on the architecture of your app, and you can choose what’s best with the help of your developers and business analysts.

Case Example: Kokilaben Hospital’s App Caters to Both Doctors and Patients

At the Kokilaben Hospital in Mumbai, doctors held virtual visits with patients during the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to a new telemedicine app launched in December 2020 with the help of CometChat’s Chat SDK. This app allowed both doctors and patients to connect while keeping conversations and medical information private, secure and confidential. 

5. Monetization Strategies of Telemedicine Apps

How do telemedicine apps secure revenue streams? Finding the right monetization strategy for your telemedicine app can be tricky, as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution despite the contextual similarities.

Generally, some strategies to monetize telemedicine apps include paid subscriptions, in-app billing or advertising. Some apps use a combination of these strategies. For example, they might allow free downloads supported by ads and also provide in-app purchases or premium upgrades paid by monthly subscriptions.

App monetization models typically fall into three categories: free, freemium and premium.

  • Free apps are either purely ad-supported or are used as a promotion vehicle for a larger company.
  • Freemium apps are free to download with additional in-app purchases, ads or paid subscriptions.
  • Premium apps simply mean that apps need to be paid for prior to installation. They can still include in-app purchases and paid subscriptions but are typically free of ads.

Free and freemium models are ideal for introducing your app to the market or expanding your market share. Once your app is more established, however, the subscription model is an excellent choice when you have a strong demand with returning users. Subscription-based models also give you the additional advantage of being able to project revenue forecasts.

Telemedicine Application Development

This section covers all aspects of telemedicine app development including the frameworks, process, prerequisites, tools, design, security and compliance.

Introduction to Telemedicine Software Development

The process of telemedicine software development includes careful planning and a variety of user interface considerations, including:

  • Defining prerequisites for the project, including business needs and desired features.
  • Deciding how to design the application, choosing an appropriate framework or designing from scratch.
  • Developing an implementation plan.

Phases of Telemedicine App Development

The telemedicine app development process can be divided into discovery and development phases:

Discovery

The pre-development stage in the app life cycle includes discovery, which entails the following:

  • Market analysis to inform what features are needed
  • UI/UX design
  • Backend architecture planning

Development

Once the development phase begins, the project team turns their focus to:

  • Product design
  • Backend architecture
  • Development using SDKs, APIs, and other frameworks

Iterative Testing

Although the development and iterative testing processes are often inseparably intertwined, the testing and the debugging process are highly critical to the success of the app upon launch. In this phase, developers focus on the following:

  • Quality assurance
  • Iterative testing
  • Debugging

In more detail, we'll cover features, latest technologies, product and technical design, UI/UX, ensuring reliable performance and scalability while staying compliant with HIPAA and other data security regulations. We'll also cover the potential costs of developing a telemedicine app and the pitfalls to avoid.

Product and Technical Design of Telemedicine Apps

Telemedicine app design includes user personas, user flows, wireframes, prototypes, and UI design.

User Personas 

Telemedicine apps are typically used by three types of people: doctors, patients, or healthcare personnel. When designing a telemedicine app, it's worth considering the different roles these users may have at different stages in their life.

User Flows 

User flows, aided by UI wireframing and prototyping, defines how a user navigates through an app, what they can do with it, and steps that need to occur before other features are unlocked. It is a critical part of telemedicine app design because it helps you create a roadmap of how users can interact with your telemedicine app.

System Design and Architecture of a Telemedicine App 

Before writing a single line of code, it is important to take into account the most pressing issues, such as:

  • What platforms will your app support?
  • What features are needed, and which ones need to be made from scratch?
  • How will you ensure data security and compliance?

Telemedicine app architecture includes technical components such as databases, web servers, and API integrations. System design and architecture planning help you choose the right API integrations, SDK foundations, and backend databases that would best serve your telemedicine app.

Interface and User Experience of a Telehealth App 

A telemedicine app must have an intuitive UX simple enough for anyone to use. Some people do not have much experience using new technology or digital interfaces, making it difficult for them to understand how an app works or what buttons they should tap. Building your telehealth app in such a way ensures that everyone can find their own answers while using the app without assistance.

Considerations on telemedicine app UX include the following:

  • Text readability with color contrast between background and font
  • Mobile responsiveness on different device types such as Android and iOS
  • Navigation menu organization layout
  • Balancing complex workflows with the number of taps
  • Ease of updating and maintaining user account profiles, including billing and payments

There are proven UI/UX kits available for both Android and iOS telehealth apps, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel at this stage of app development.

Technology Stack for Telemedicine App

What technologies should be used for an app or website for delivering remote healthcare services? There are many different options available, and we will cover them in this section.

Frameworks and Programming Languages 

We use various telemedicine app development frameworks, programming languages and third-party tools such as cloud storage platforms. Below is a list of what developers use to develop telemedicine apps and for which app platform:

iOS

  • Swift
  • WebKit
Android
  • Java
  • Kotlin
  • Retrofit
Cross-platform
  • React Native
  • Flutter
  • Xamarin
Databases and backend infrastructure
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Java
Web-based apps
  • ReactJS
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Django (python)
No-code/low-code platforms
  • BuildFire
  • AppyPie
  • WebFlow

For the best reach in the mobile app market, choosing a cross-platform framework maximizes the number of device types your app can support. To make the right choice between these cross-platform frameworks, you can read about the reasons to use React Native Framework and how Flutter compares to React.

No-code and low-code platforms are ideal for bringing an app to the market quickly or testing demand. However, low-code may be limiting in terms of customization or building new features. For maximum customization with extra features, it is worth building the app from the ground up using popular frameworks such as Swift for iOS or Java for Android with python for the backend.

APIs and SDKs for Building Your Own Telehealth App 

There are many telemedicine APIs and SDKs with microservices that cater to the healthcare industry. We list them below:

APIs

There are countless APIs available to help you build a telemedicine app. Most of these are RESTful APIs, such as Stripe, EC2, S3, SendGrid, and Firebase Cloud Messaging, to name a few. To make your decision-making process easier, we list the top telemedicine APIs for your healthcare app.

Cloud platforms
  • Google Cloud
  • AWS (Amazon Web Services)
  • Microsoft Azure

While there are many cloud providers, Google and Amazon are among the most popular and cost-effective, especially if you plan to scale your business usage through your telemedicine app.

Videoconferencing

Using WebRTC protocol and TURN servers, telemedicine apps can be used across most medical devices, even on secure public networks. You can develop this using either open-source or paid APIs, which give you granular control over your app. Telemedicine apps can also use the XMPP chat protocol when extensible markup language is needed for chat functionality, or the MQTT protocol for machine-to-machine telemetry if remote patient monitoring is being used.

We also provide a complete step-by-step guide to building video chat into your telemedicine app.

In-app chat

There are many use cases for chat in telemedicine apps. Whether or not you develop chat using third-party tools or from scratch, it is critical for telemedicine apps that real-time chat functionality and automated chatbots must be HIPAA compliant

Database
  • MySQL 
  • MongoDB
  • Postgres

Many healthcare systems use computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems. Therefore, it is vital to not only explore using a database backend to support your app users, but also to provide a centralized location for healthcare providers to add treatment information, prescription orders, visit notes to patients’ medical records and track changes made to those records by others.

Other healthcare-specific microservices

You could also include other microservices in your telemedicine app specifically designed for the healthcare system. Among these are:

Ensuring Reliable Performance and Scalability 

For a telemedicine app to be considered reliable, it needs to meet the following conditions:

  • The app does what the user expects
  • The app gracefully tolerates all software faults, hardware failures, and human mistakes
  • The app prevents unauthorized access
  • The app prevents breaches of personal information and medical data
  • The app performs well with good latency under high loads and data volume

With respect to scalability, the last point above is a salient one. Developers can build a scalable app by writing the code with scalability in mind. For example, in keeping with the service-oriented architecture structural style, developers can use microservices along with well-built APIs and generous cloud storage. 

If using video or live chat, developers need to ensure that enough bandwidth is available through their cloud platforms to support multiple video calls across the entire user base of both doctors and patients. 

Over time, it’s not just about securing enough bandwidth for the app to work but also ensuring the app can handle ever-increasing volume as it scales. To ensure your app is scalable, build it using these guidelines:

  • Choose the right technologies, including the programming language, databases and cloud platforms
  • Avoid single points of failure by running backend code on multiple servers with load balancing
  • Allow clients to run the logic to reduce the server load
  • Use caching to execute client requests to keep primary database queries to a minimum
  • Keep your APIs stateless to further reduce the server-side workload

Compliance and Data Security Regulations 

Numerous regulations stipulate that your telemedicine app must be privacy and data security compliant. Among these regulations are HIPAA, GDPR, PIPEDA, SOC 2 and ISO, to name a few. 

ISO

ISO standards are agreed on by experts at the International Organization for Standardization. These are like formulas or recipes for how to do something, such as making products, managing processes, delivering services, supplying materials, or, as you guessed, developing apps. 

More specifically, the standards most relevant to developing telehealth applications are stipulated in ISO 27001 and ISO 13131, both of which have recently been updated in 2021. In particular, the ISO 27001 standard provides requirements for a data security management system. This standard enables telemedicine app creators to manage security on financial information, intellectual property, employee details, or information entrusted by third parties, including medical information.

SOC 2

The System and Organization Controls for Service Organizations (SOC) establishes the gold standard in customer data privacy and security controls. Ensuring SOC 2 compliance entails certifying that the best industry practices for data security and privacy are being adhered to. There are five pillars of SOC 2 compliance that your telemedicine app should uphold:

  1. Security
  2. Availability
  3. Confidentiality
  4. Processing integrity
  5. Privacy

To help develop your app with SOC 2 in mind, we provide a detailed SOC 2 compliance and certification guide.

GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), passed into law in 2018, protects the privacy and rights of EU citizens by strictly levying fines on any organization worldwide for noncompliance. If an EU citizen ever uses your app, it is vital that it complies with the GDPR. 

We provide a guide on building GDPR compliant apps with chat functionality.

HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed in 1996 to protect personal health information from being shared with others without a patient’s permission. HIPAA compliant app development needs to ensure that personally identifiable information must not be breached or made public when doctors and patients use email, chat messaging or intra-hospital communications within the app. 

We have a general guide on HIPAA, and we also discuss building HIPAA compliant chat into your telemedicine app in the next section.

PIPEDA (Canada)

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act can be viewed as Canada’s cousin of HIPAA, but with some key differences. If you are developing for Canadian users, your app must also comply with PIPEDA

Building a HIPAA Compliant Chat for Your Telemedicine App

Developing a HIPAA compliant chat app for telemedicine requires a series of decisions on how information is shared across what pathways. 

Building with third-party APIs

You may decide to use third-party APIs or build from scratch. If you choose to use third-party APIs, you also need to make sure that those APIs are HIPAA compliant. We provide tutorials on building a HIPAA compliant telemedicine app to assist with your decision-making process:

Tutorial: Building a HIPAA compliant app for iOS

Tutorial: Building a HIPAA compliant app for Android 

Tutorial: Building a HIPAA compliant cross-platform app

Building chat and messaging 

Using Chat SDKs with built-in HIPAA compliance saves you from the headache of building chat from scratch. CometChat provides a Chat SDK and API for real-time chat, so you don’t have to build it yourself and risk a costly security breach. 

We also provide UI kit documentation on how to build chat into your app using our UI Kit knowledge base based on the framework of your choosing. When you select your preferred platform, our knowledge base takes you to the relevant how-to guide for your app.

Building video and voice chat 

Under “Calling” within each framework, we provide instructions on how to add video calling and voice chat to your telemedicine app:

  • Setting up video and voice calling in iOS apps
  • Setting up video and voice calling for Android apps
  • Setting up video and voice calling using React Native for cross-platform apps

Whichever platform or framework you choose, you can be assured that CometChat’s platform is already HIPAA compliant rather than having to build your own chat functionality while addressing hundreds of security concerns. 

Building a Telemedicine App MVP 

Building a minimum viable product (MVP) is essential for testing your market and getting valuable feedback from your user base. Otherwise, you may waste precious time and resources building features that your users don’t need. 

For telehealth specifically, an MVP telemedicine app might consist of only basic but important features that make up the core functionality of your use case. As mentioned above, you may choose one of the following three use cases:

  • Remote patient monitoring apps 
  • Click-and-send telemedicine apps
  • Interactive real-time apps

If you’re building a remote patient monitoring app, it will at least need data storage and transfer protocols for sharing and storing the data collected by connected devices. 

Click-and-send apps will need a way to transfer patient data securely. 

An interactive app, which is more complex, will need — at minimum — patient profile creation, electronic medical record (EMR) storage, calling and messaging, and payment processing.

Only when you test your app on a set of users and gain some feedback can you begin to add more features, functionalities, and microservices that your users actually want. Here are some tips on how to scale from an MVP to final product.

Telemedicine Software Development Budget and Cost 

The cost of telemedicine app development can vary widely depending on the type of app and your approach to building it. Many factors go into the total cost of the app, including pre-development discovery through post-development maintenance and updates. In addition, ensuring compliance with applicable regulations also adds to the cost. 

On the lower end, where simpler use cases or functionalities are built, a telemedicine app may cost around $60,000-150,000 over 3-6 months to develop for one platform. 

Feature-rich apps with more complex functionalities such as interactive chat or video or development for multiple platforms will likely cost at least $300,000 upwards to $425,000 or more over 9-12 months, according to a 2018 report.

These cost ranges assume that these apps are built using existing microservices, third-party SDKs and APIs, which is still likely to be cheaper and significantly save more time than if you decided to build everything independently.

Developing a hybrid app with a cross-platform framework, even with complex features, may save money as the development work won’t need to be repeated for multiple native apps. However, since native apps often are well built and thus perform better, deep development expertise, which can be expensive, is necessary to get a cross-platform app to match their performance.

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building a Telemedicine App 

Building a telemedicine app is fraught with complications and pitfalls. If not proactively addressed from the beginning — even before writing one line of code — these will leave your app languishing in the unreachable depths of the app store.

So we will list seven common mistakes to avoid:

1. Not validating the app idea with potential users

It’s important to do a competitive analysis to see how similar apps are faring in your target market before creating your app. Using a product strategy framework to validate your solution with your target users will save you from redoing the app later, which can be costly.

2. Not hiring the right professionals

Not only should you hire professionals to help create your app, but you also want to hire the right professionals with the correct framework skills and domain knowledge in healthcare. 

3. Neglecting to make the design more intuitive 

People of all ages and backgrounds are in your target market in the healthcare system, and many skillfully developed apps will be vying for their share. For your app to gain traction, its UI needs to be intuitive and easy to use for all users.

4. Not thinking about security, privacy, and compliance

This is a common mistake with remote patient monitoring apps associated with wearables. We tend to perceive wearables as leisure items, but they store highly sensitive data that must be protected and therefore, fall under stringent privacy and data security regulations.

5. Not choosing the right SDKs or APIs

When considering different SDKs and APIs for your telemedicine app, be sure to prioritize the most proven and scalable solutions that will be around for years to come. This leads us to the next mistake:

6. Failing to build scalability into the app

You could build an app that functions well during testing and debugging, only to become slow and buggy when higher loads are placed upon it by thousands of people using it simultaneously. In such scenarios, developers had to rebuild the app completely with an entirely new codebase.

Making the app scalable is an initiative that needs to be committed to from day one. It also requires a highly available and resilient backend infrastructure setup. The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and you can use one of the major cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure.

7. Focusing too much on hardware based dependencies

If you rely on devices and hardware to develop the app, you will create a dependency between the app and specific hardware. This raises the risk to your app that the hardware becomes obsolete in a few years. By eliminating such dependencies, your app can grow and thrive even when the hardware changes.

List of Telemedicine App Development Companies to Help You

Several telemedicine app development companies have built apps for doctors, health facility administrators, and patients. To name a few, here are some companies that have a track record of creating telemedicine app development solutions that are used today: 

1. Codiant

Codiant is an end-to-end software development partner for all kinds of apps across almost every industry, including healthcare. Codiant developed the Teledocto app, where patients can consult doctors for both emergencies and routine checkups.

2. Mind Bowser

Mind Bowser provides app development solutions for both entrepreneurs and larger businesses. They have expertise in iOS, Android, React, Python, and full-stack development. Mind Bowser developed a HIPAA compliant telehealth platform centered around patients with a multi-way group calling that allows primary care physicians to invite specialists to virtual appointments. 

3. Esferasoft

Esferasoft is a dedicated development team that provides custom cross-platform app development services. They built Clinic App, a telemedicine app with an integrated platform connecting patients with specialists to schedule appointments with world-class experts within their specific diagnoses. 

4. MLSDev

MLSDev is a web and mobile app development agency that built several apps, including Idana to reduce misdiagnoses, Myostats that collects and interprets personal health data and Doctorate that helps patients choose their doctor based on reviews and ratings.

5. Smarther

Smarther provides on-demand telemedicine app development services for clients within industries including healthcare. Based in India, they developed Hellopil, a medicine delivery mobile app that helps users eliminate pharmacy visits by ordering their prescription medications online. 

Conclusion

Feel free to use this guide for information about the most popular technologies, frameworks, and APIs for developing telemedicine apps. Be sure to avoid common mistakes when building a telemedicine app by making sure you validate your idea, hire professionals, make accurate cost and time estimates for your development plan and build with scalability in mind.

Just as importantly, take all the steps to ensure data security and privacy compliance from day one by reviewing all regulatory requirements from HIPAA, GDPR, and other standards.

If you want to get started with a proven SDK framework with reliable API integrations, sign in to the CometChat dashboard and start building text voice & video chat for your telemedicine app for free. CometChat also supports cross-platform development with regulatory compliance built-in.

About the author

Nabeel Keblawi, a deaf entrepreneur, runs a Content Marketing and SEO agency that helps B2B SaaS companies grow organically in their industries around the world. His previous work experience involved software development, renewable energy, and cloud computing. In his personal life, Nabeel loves to go hiking with his family, and dust off his skis to hit the slopes given the chance. He is also an avid reader of fictional history.

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