HOW TO START A TELEHEALTH BUSINESS
Feb 02 2021
At a time of the global COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine app development is changing the whole industry’s face. As recent research says, not less than 82% of patients think that digital software is the best option to monitor health conditions The world needs innovative solutions to provide quality remote services to everyone, and a telehealth app is a perfect example of it. Is it profitable to start a telehealth business in 2021? Absolutely. The demand for such services is extremely high and increasing, while the market niche is still available because just a few of such apps can satisfy customers’ needs and expectations. Reading this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the telehealth/telemedicine industry and the ways to develop big-time software to fix your customers’ pain points effectively and succeed in the market.
Table of contents
What is Telemedicine
Telemedicine as a Business Idea
Telemedicine Software Development
WHAT IS TELEMEDICINE
Telemedicine vs. Telehealth
Are telemedicine and telehealth inherently different or not? While some specialists use these terms almost as synonyms, there are some peculiarities.
The Telemedicine industry is an integral part of the Telehealth field
Telemedicine is a sphere that uses all kinds of secure long-distance communications (text chats, video or audio calls) to provide healthcare and educational services. The main focus is on consultations and treatment without in-person visits.
The top popular services in mobile telemedicine include:
- chronic illness monitoring;
- medication monitoring;
- doctor’s consultation;
- follow-up visits, and much more.
Components of Telemedicine
Telehealth is different from telemedicine in terms of scope. It refers to improving the whole system of healthcare services, providers, and organizations. Telemedicine is an integral part of telehealth. Other prominent components of mobile telehealth include:
- public health and health promotion;
- training for healthcare providers;
- medical education;
- healthcare information protection;
- administrative meetings, etc.
Components of Telehealth
Exceed Team’s experience: Which law regulates this industry? We advise you to visit the website of American Telemedicine Association to learn the legislation and recommendations for telemedicine platform development, patients’ data protection, doctors training uploads, and other information to help you provide professional medical services.
Types of Telemedicine Applications
The main purpose of this industry is to link patients with healthcare providers via various kinds of technologies. For instance, a phone consultation is already telemedicine. If you’re planning to start a business, it’s best to know the different areas that are out there. When it comes to telemedicine platform development, you can typically find the following types of services. Remote monitoring / IoT-based – using medical equipment and digital software to monitor a patient’s condition and transmit the data to a doctor periodically; App-based – implementing a wide selection of features to give patients a thorough telemedicine experience from their mobile devices; if you want to learn more on how to build a fully-fledged telemedicine app check another article in our blog. Store-and-forward – sharing test results, X-ray images, MRI, and other clinical data between a patient and a specialist who will analyze this data. Real-time interaction – enabling two-way communication between a physician and a patient with the help of video conferences or phone calls. Telemedicine networks – creating EHR systems to connect different clinics and specialists; you can use our blog post as further reading.
Pros & Cons of Telemedicine
What good can bring mobile telemedicine to patients, doctors, medical facilities, and our society as a whole? Here are the most important pros:
- mobile telehealth technologies are quite accessible, convenient, and cost-effective for patients;
- doctors can work from home and have more clients, also saving time and doing more efficient medical record keeping;
- clinics get less administrative work and reduced cancellations while receiving additional income;
- incredible social benefits, such as helping faraway areas or decreasing the spread of diseases (which is crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic).
Though telemedicine app development has lots of benefits, there are some disadvantages. They include, for example:
- dependence on the Internet connection and up-to-date technology devices;
- limitation to some diagnoses;
- security risks, etc.
Telemedicine is helpful for all parties, though it has some drawbacks
You should consider these pros and cons when doing a risk assessment for your startup.
TELEMEDICINE AS A BUSINESS IDEA
Success Stories of Telehealth Businesses
One of the essential strategies in business planning is analyzing your competitors’ experience and learning from it. Let’s discover some interesting and successful examples of telemedicine app development in different parts of the world. PlushCare is a US-based telehealth app that works in 50 states, employing over 100 doctors and providing healthcare to over 100,000 patients. Physicians solve different kinds of issues, from primary care to chronic illnesses. They also manage prescription renewals and give doctor's notes for work or school. Telemedico is a telemedicine app launched in 2014 in Poland. Today, it provides real-time medical consultation in ten languages, including English, Portuguese, Arabic, and Russian. The business has already received $6.7 million in funds, attracted over 900,000 patients, and started to collaborate with over 600 doctors.
Telemedico is a Poland-based telehealth app
iCliniq was founded in 2010 as a domestic telemedicine app for India. As for today, it handles more than 600 daily patient queries processed by 3,500 doctors with over 80 specialized areas working from 190 countries. The app also receives requests via Telegram and Slack. Doctor on Demand is a successful app founded in San Francisco in 2012. As a startup, it received $86.75 million from multiple investors, including Google. Today, the platform offers consultations from more than 700 healthcare professionals and provides various diagnostics via laboratory integrations. It’s available on all popular devices and mobile platforms. Teladoc was founded in 2002 in the US and expanded globally by making lots of acquisitions. In 2019, the company’s revenue was $553.3 million. The platform provides professional consultations and services from physicians with various specializations, including mental health problems.
Teladoc is a telehealth app working across many countries
Exceed Team’s experience: All these examples of telemedicine app development are available on multiple mobile platforms, making them more accessible for users.
Your Place in the Telemedicine Industry
Even before the worldwide pandemic, Zion Market Research predicted that mobile telemedicine will increase up to $38 billion by 2022. The services are becoming widespread around the globe and attracting both healthcare professionals and patients, specifically the younger generation. Before entering this domain, you should study the main trends and tendencies.
- Regulations and insurance – in 2020, the US government lifted all restrictions on professional mobile telehealth platforms. The range of services was expanded in response to the pandemic, and the insurance offices began providing compensations for the services received via telehealth apps.
- Big data – the healthcare industry produces lots of information, from medical records history to doctors’ training uploads. Modern technologies allow to proсess big data for many purposes, including EHR systems, improvements in diagnosing and treatment, medical research, cost reduction, etc.
- IoT (the Internet of Things) – mobile telemedicine software can connect to various kinds of equipment, including smartwatches, cameras, tablets, medical kiosks, and much more. IoT enables tracking, analysis, and emergency response, which provides better care.
- Public secure networks – technologies like WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications) enable the use of mobile telehealth software safely, conveniently, and at affordable prices.
- AI (Artificial intelligence) and chatbots – it’s becoming hard to find a telemedicine app without these technologies. Other similar examples include voice recognition, language processing, machine learning, etc.
- Data security – storing and sharing patients’ medical records is a critical part of telemedicine app development. For example, data encryption is an integral part of HIPAA compliance; we have already touched on this topic in another article.
Knowing the industry’s tendencies will help you determine your application’s type and features. What kind of telehealth startup can you choose? There are currently a number of options on the market:
- connecting health app users with doctors and other healthcare providers;
- providing solutions for self-monitoring (e.g., smartwatches) or in-home monitoring (e.g., cardiovascular condition or oxygen level tracking);
- organizing preliminary medical consultation via chatbots and similar technologies;
- offering encrypted communication services (e.g., video conferencing software);
- providing healthcare data analytics;
- building EMR/EHR systems and transferring secure medical information between institutions.
Promotion & Monetization of Telemedicine Apps
Before you start telemedicine platform development, it’s crucial to elaborate a strategy for the future. How will you promote your application? You can follow these major steps:
- Choose an app’s type and study its potential audience (geography, demographics, typical time for appointments, urgent care categories, etc.).
- Promote the product within your medical staff and collect feedback to make improvements.
- Make partnerships with other organizations.
- Enhance access to the telehealth app (make it available on iOS, Android, and the Web, work on user-friendliness, etc.)
- Build a rate and review system and encourage people to share their opinions in app stores (most new users will download your mobile telehealth application after reading helpful feedback about it).
- Use various tools of content marketing (webinars, educational articles and videos, e-books, etc.)
How do popular apps make money? PlushCare, for example, uses a monthly subscription model. Doctor on Demand, in contrast, charges a fee for each appointment.
To sum up, the common revenue models include:
- Consultation fees, when a user pays for each minute of consultation or pays fixed costs with specific percentages.
- Subscription, when patients or doctors purchase the membership on the telehealth app.
- Advertisement, when you place paid ads for healthcare providers to promote their services to your audience.
- Franchising, when your business distributes mobile telehealth software to other countries as a franchise.
- SaaS, when mobile telemedicine businesses provide software as a service to medical organizations.
The price range on telemedicine apps is usually from $49 to $250 per month. You should know your business model by the time you speak with telemedicine software developers about the product’s features, technical requirements, architecture, and design. Moreover, think about the scalability of your telehealth startup. Decide how you’re planning to grow from an MVP to a complex solution and think about technologies (e.g., databases) for this future growth.
TELEMEDICINE SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT
Features of Telemedicine Applications
Successful apps usually provide the functionality for various connections between a patient and a physician, including photo-based consultations, real-time consultations through text chats and audio- or video calls, electronic prescriptions and prescription refills (renewals), etc. There are two major lists of features to implement – one for patients, the other for doctors. Some options are essential for both types of telemedicine app’s users.
|What to build||Exceed Team’s Recommendations|
|Registration||Two-factor authentication (SMS, voice),
Social login (Google, LinkedIn, Facebook)
|Secure text and video chats||Encrypted protocols for messaging and video conferencing|
|Calendar||Checking and managing doctors’ availability;
scheduling, viewing, and canceling appointments
|Notifications||Reminders about appointments, tests, medication, etc.|
|Cloud data storage||Storing and managing EHR, lab test results, MRIs,
X-rays scans, etc.
Features for Patients:
|What to build||Exceed Team’s Recommendations|
|Patient profile||Quick access to healthcare records and personal information|
|Search||More filters like rates, specialization, language, proximity|
|Payments||Secure gateways like PayPal, Stripe, Braintree, etc.|
Features for Doctors:
|What to build||Exceed Team’s Recommendations|
|Doctor profile||Quick access to healthcare records and personal information|
|Dashboard||Treatment plans and progress on each patient|
|E-prescription||Study your area’s laws, enable prescription refill for the chronically ill, make integrations with local drug stores|
Telemedicine app development also includes building an admin panel, typically web-based. It provides lots of opportunities, such as monitoring of the in-app activity, managing all content, and viewing analytics for any given period.
Technologies Used in Telemedicine Apps
Since there is a lot of protected information processed via healthcare apps, developers apply a wide range of technologies for data analysis and security. How can you choose a trustworthy tech partner to develop your telemedicine app? For instance, you can follow these steps:
- Define your project scope, the list of features and software requirements. Start looking for application developers experienced with technologies in the telemedicine industry. The easiest way is to discuss those requirements with several IT companies and choose the one that can build a dedicated team for you.
- Study HIPAA compliance rules and certification for your product. Make a plan to integrate new telemedicine software into your current practice. Ask your technology partner how they can help.
- Decide what kind of post-launch tech support your app will need. Make agreements with your technology partner, including hours, costs, and the means of communication.
During the process of telemedicine platform development, coders and designers use a selection of tools. Interested to learn more about them? Look at a few examples of Exceed Team’s technological stack.
|What to Build in a Telemedicine App||Technologies to Develop It|
|UI/UX Design||Figma, Adobe Creative Cloud|
|Big Data Analysis||Hadoop, Cassandra, Storm|
|Cloud Data Storage||Amazon Web Services (AWS)|
|Databases||MySQL, Amazon RDS, MongoDB|
|Real-Time Analytics||Google Analytics, Hadoop|
|Payment Integration||PayPal, Stripe, credit/debit card|
|Push Notifications||Push.IO, Amazon SNS, Twilio|
|Email communication||Mandrill, Amazon SES,Twilio|
|Video Conferencing||WebRTC, Twilio, CometChat|
|Chatbots||Python, spaCy, TextBlob, Gensim, CoreNLP|
Telemedicine App Development Cost
Telemedicine software prices usually include business analytics, design and prototyping, and then – building everything from an admin panel to patient/doctor functionality. When you outsource a development team, the roughly estimated cost will be from $50,000 to $110,000 (per one platform, Android or iOS). In terms of time, it takes approximately 3-6 months. If you wish to develop a new telemedicine app, pay attention to these pricing factors:
- Type and complexity. They determine the functions, architecture, and the number of third-party APIs.
- Platforms. If you want an app for both iOS or Android, multiple the development cost by two.
- The team – size and location. It usually takes 7-8 specialists to work on a single telemedicine product. The most favorable hourly rate ($30-40) you’ll find in the Eastern European countries, where there is also a huge pool of software development talents.
FINAL THOUGHTS – WHAT MAKES A TELEHEALTH BUSINESS SUCCESSFUL
Having an app idea is not enough. You have to make sure it will bring value to potential users, and that means innovation. Invest time and other resources in studying the telemedicine industry and your audience’s needs so that you can understand what kind of innovative solution to offer. Here at Exceed Team, we’re watching telemedicine trends and news very closely. It helps us constantly enhance our development strategies and tools, working as a reliable tech partner for startups and businesses. Ready to tell us all about your project? We’re excited to collaborate! Let’s build some new and helpful telemedicine software.
GOT AN IDEA? LET'S DISCUSS!
Share your project’s scope, time scales, technical requirements, business challenges, and other details you consider necessary. Our team will study them and contact you soon.
Let’s make an exciting product together!