It is no secret that telemedicine is a valuable tool for healthcare providers to increase coverage and improve their services. We recently posted about the pros and cons of the technology and below, we bring to you some of the most important aspects to consider when building a successful medical communication software for telemedicine.
So, let’s get started!
Focus on the Process.
This is probably the most important thing to look at: do not focus solely on the technology, but on the process.
Sure, technology is cool: video/audio calls, real-time notifications, messaging, etc. Just keep in mind that these are only building blocks that should be compounded together by a business model carefully designed around organizational needs.
So before adding all the utilities provided by the real-time technologies, set your objectives, involve all the actors (physicians, nurses, patients, etc) and build a foundational process that dictates where these technologies will fit and how they will work.
Once you have defined your process, it’s time to add all the fancy real-time utilities. The trick here is to consider a multi-platform approach compounded by a group of web, desktop and mobile applications; each one fulfilling a specific purpose.
For example, you can have a web application where patients sign in for scheduling and initiating remote first-contact or follow-up telehealth voice/video sessions.
After the initial consultation, patients can download a mobile app that alerts them to take medications and gives them custom recommendations according to his records. The app can be also be consulted by physicians and nurses who follow that patient, in order to check out patient’s in real-time.
A separate desktop app can be used to establish secure chat sessions between patients and physicians.
The above is just an example of what you can achieve by integrating several applications into one big medical platform, but it all depends on your needs. You can choose to start small and then extend the possibilities.
If you want to provide Telemedicine services in the US, your solution MUST implement HIPAA-compliance. In the same way, each country will have its own regulations for storing and transmitting patients’ health information, and even if it is not required or regulated, the security goodies advised by such regulations are worth considering.
In the case of HIPAA, there are two important requirements that every compliant application must follow, these are: encryption at rest and in transit for Protected Health Information (PHI); and an auditing, backups and disaster recovery control system.
Encryption means that information should be stored and transmitted in way a way that even if someone non-authorized gains access to it, he won’t be able to read it. This is done by encoding the information using an encryption algorithm and a key, which will also be used to decode it.
The second requirement is an auditing, backups and disaster recovery control system that allows system administrators know who and when has accessed health information, and create copies of the information that allows the business continuity in case of disaster.
As you can see, it is quite a challenge (but not impossible) to implement HIPAA compliance, however it can also become a powerful tool to attract patients as will make them feel secure about how their information will be stored and transmitted.
An easy way to start is by using some of tools provided by cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, which makes it easy for customers to provision HIPAA-compliant infrastructure for medical applications.
It is a good thing to include patients in the platform by building applications that work on their side. Some examples are applications that reminds them to take medications, exercise routines, medical chat, etc. In this way, the patient will feel more engaged to the suggested treatment and it is highly likely that he will adhere to it more strictly.
Patient-side applications also allows physicians to follow-up the evolution of their patients and make sure they are following the advice correctly.
Allowing the application to integrate with other software and hardware solutions opens a world of possibilities.
Trying to build a complete “one-size-fits-all” solution can be a really difficult task and probably not worth the actual cost.
Instead it is a good practice to develop integration channels with other existing solutions in order to keep the actual medical application as simple as needed by the business model.
A good example of this is that if as part of the business model considers the use of wearable devices for tracking patient’s vital signs, it may be cheaper and equally effective to use the bundled device’s software, integrated with your application using REST APIs than trying to build a software for the device from zero (or even worse, build a custom hardware device).
In the same way, it’s highly likely that your application will need to communicate to and from other medical software, so building a solid integration channel it’s an important feature to consider.
Interested in learning more?
Click here to learn how a telemedicine WebRTC application can financially benefit your hospital, healthcare system or practice, read case studies and testimonials, and even see a telemedicine app in action.
Ready to Build your Medical Communication Application?
Building successful medical communication software is not a trivial task, there is a lot of significant work that requires proper planning, designing, coding and testing processes, but hopefully the above described tips will help you to design the next big thing in telehealth.
Let our experts at webRTC.ventures help you build your custom video and audio telehealth app. We have decades of experience with over 200,000 hours invested in building real-time applications.
Contact us today. We’ll build your user-friendly, HIPAA-compliant app — designed with both the provider and patient in mind.