HED: Avoid these 3 Mistakes in Building Telemedicine Platform

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Take these steps into account in establishing setup for healthcare organization.

Telehealth usage is escalating at a rapid pace as patients across the globe are seeking new ways to connect with their healthcare providers due to the ongoing Coronavirus health emergency.

Not only has the pandemic speeded telemedicine’s adoption, it has also given people good reason to believe that the technology is here to stay and will continue to grow more popular as its functionality improves.

One recent report by McKinsey shows that practitioners provide 50 to 175 times more telemedicine visits now than they did in years prior to the pandemic. It’s no surprise that more and more healthcare organizations and private practitioners alike are looking to build telehealth platforms for their practice.

However, providers have to take into account a number of considerations before getting a telemedicine platform built for their organization. Right from ensuring the platform remains compliant at all times, to achieving the best user experience and deciding on the appropriate tech stack — the list truly is never-ending!

Ensuring that you can steer clear of these three common mistakes can surely take you close to achieving perfection:

1) Not establishing a concise development process

Despite the fact that a considerable number of development decisions will need to be made through iteration and experimentation based on your business’ unique value proposition, asking your developer to establish a telemedicine app development process to follow can help take some of the guesswork out and save up all those crucial development hours. It also ensures that the end result meets or even exceeds industry standards.

One also needs to understand that even after your developer has planned out all the steps and stages right from initial scoping to launch well in advance, as development enters its later stages, the progression isn’t always going to be linear.

A few procedures will be requiring more than one iteration before the result finally looks acceptable, while others can happen at the same time without waiting for the previous step to reach completion. Several crucial decisions in the development process come way before a single line of code is even written.

Here are a few things you need to consider when finalizing on a development plan include:

  • What platforms will be supported by your app?
  • What features are going to be absolutely essential, and which of them need to be built from scratch?
  • With patients’ confidential information on the line, how will you reassure them that compliance and security considerations have been incorporated from the ground up?
  • What sort of customer support are you willing to provide? Are you looking at getting a chatbot integrated with your platform?
  • Are you also looking at getting your app mobile support? If not, what exactly is your developer planning to do to make it responsive?

Even on a tight deadline to deliver, a little extra thought invested toward making these decisions and implementing them correctly can save exponentially longer delays at a later stage.

Whatever you do, make sure that the app development company you choose has a strong portfolio and proven expertise in the said domain. This is especially important because only people who are truly invested in your vision can get you the results you desire within your budget.

2) Not choosing the right Telemedicine API and SDK foundations

Today, the vast majority of telemedicine apps require component functions like a live chat window alongside the video call, end-to-end encrypted video calling and an in-app messaging function that works just like an email for delivery of secure messages and prescriptions.

For most developers, it would be a comparatively costly and time consuming affair to build such components right from scratch, especially since cost-effective, sophisticated solutions already exist in the form of third-party API (Application Programming Interface) and SDK (Software Development Kit) products.

With robust SDK and API foundations to build on, the developer’s teams will have to spend comparatively less time getting the basics right. They will, instead, be able to devote more time and effort toward optimizing the features that make your product stand above your competitors.

Here is some commonly used core APIs you’ll want to evaluate, ensuring that your choice of foundation in every category is compatible with your choices in the other categories:

  • Video Calling APIs
  • Chat and Messaging APIs

When evaluating SDKs and APIs for your telemedicine platform, try and be sure to prioritize proven, highly scalable solutions. This gets us to our next common mistake:

3) Failing to determine if the model is going to be truly scalable

If you want your solution to stay relevant and appeal to your patients for a long period of time, you need to constantly look at ways you can innovate in telehealth.

One of the most common mistakes that occur when getting a telemedicine app developed is failing to determine if the model is going to be scalable for it to be able to accommodate changes in your workflow at a later stage.

For instance, if your team develops an app that is functioning perfectly well, only to realize later that it gets unacceptably buggy or crashes completely once concurrent users start using it post deployment, it’s going to be nothing short of a nightmare to fix. This problem can also often require a complete rebuild of the initial codebase.

Scalability requires a deliberate commitment from and understanding between you and your developer from day one, with the latter’s teams thinking past the initial MVP model and coding to accommodate retroactive expansions and tweaks every very often.

Furthermore, as your telemedicine platform expands, a dedicated DevOps team should be assigned to handle maintenance, scaling, and troubleshooting of your pipeline and existing infrastructure.

Scalability is the key to quickly adapt and stay ahead of your competitors.

The future of telehealth and how successful it truly will be in the care continuum depend on taking necessary steps in the right direction. Being on the lookout for state-of-the-art technologies that you can integrate into your telemedicine workflow to optimize your operations is the only way to excel moving forward.

So, observe, contemplate, integrate and innovate often.

After all, a solution can only be as effective as you want it to be!


Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder and president of Arkenea, a digital health consulting firm. Rahul has been featured as a technology thought leader across Bloomberg TV, Forbes, HuffPost, Inc, among others.

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