Should You Build or Buy Your Telehealth App?

Should you build or buy your telehealth application? How much will a telehealth application cost? How much time will it take to implement? There are often many choices to consider. This post explores a range of options, from those that require the least amount of custom software development, to those that require perhaps the most complex development and integration efforts.

Starting from the least upfront IT effort and increasing to the greatest amount of complexity:

  1. License an existing solution  

    • Pro: Minimal upfront effort, and the IT vendor handles the compliance/security issues
    • Con: Most expensive typically, and limited ability to customize to business processes or integration points.
    • Timeline: days or weeks
  2. Build on an enterprise conferencing platform

    • Pro: Likely to have strong video quality based on existing conferencing tools
    • Con: Not usually “pure WebRTC” solutions, these will not take as much advantage of the Peer to Peer (P2P) architecture of WebRTC. These solutions typically use WebRTC as a gateway into their proprietary video conferencing solution
    • Consider vendors like,
    • Timeline: 2-6 months
  3. Build on a WebRTC CPaaS

    • Pro: Very customizable APIs and building blocks that are targeted to developers, these give you a lot of flexibility in how you implement video in your application.  Often have the choice between using pure P2P WebRTC solutions or the IT vendor’s media servers for more scalable and higher quality calls.
    • Con: HIPAA compliant solutions may come at a higher cost than normal pricing. The APIs and servers are controlled by the vendor and you are basically renting the use of them. The latest WebRTC features may take time to be implemented in their APIs.
    • Consider vendors like Tokbox, Twilio Video, Xirsys, PhenixP2P
    • Timeline: 2-6 months
  4. Build on top of a media server

    • Pro: You control all the server hardware. This means you get to manage the systems and can certify to your users that you have complete control over all the security and infrastructure of your application.  But you aren’t building completely from scratch – you can license a media server or start with an open source implementation. This also offers lower per-minutes costs than the CPaaS solutions. You don’t own the Intellectual Property of every piece of your solution, but you own most of it.
    • Con: You control all the servers, which means you also have to implement all the security and regularly update your media server to implement the latest WebRTC standards improvements. This will have large ongoing development and application maintenance costs.
    • Consider media servers like SwitchRTC, Kurento, Jitsi
    • Timeline: 2-6 months
  5. Implement your own WebRTC solution

    • Pro: You control it all, and can build your own custom media servers. You own all the intellectual property associated with your solution.
    • Con: You have to build it all. This will be expensive and time consuming. You need a really good business reason to try and re-invent a better wheel.
    • Timeline: 1 year

The path you choose among these options will vary widely, and the lines between the options are not always clear-cut.  

Your results may vary, of course, but you should begin by considering the tradeoffs listed above and balance them against the funding and timeline constraints of your telehealth initiative.

Think a Telehealth Solution may be right for your healthcare business? Need help in determining which option best meets your needs?

The heathcare industry has its own unique set of needs for communications applications, and we are experts in building secure and HIPAA compliant video applications for medical providers.

We can help you decide whether you want to build a custom telehealth application or want to enable a telehealth starter kit that already includes the most common features our clients need, and which can be licensed, customized, and rebranded for your unique medical or mental health practice.  Contact us today.

Related Posts:

Why You Should Consider WebRTC Video for Telehealth?

How to Implement a Telemedicine Solution

How to Make Sure Your Telehealth Video App is HIPAA Compliant

Which CPaaS Provider Alternative is the Best Choice for Your Application? Tokbox, Vidyo, Temasys, Twilio & More

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