Vladimir Makeew CEO of Surf

    Telemedicine Software Solutions: Key Trends and Challenges in 2022

    Any method of using technology to communicate remotely with your doctor is referred to as telemedicine. It can be a video or regular calls or text messages. By 2028, the size of the worldwide telemedicine market is planned to reach $636.38 billion, growing at a CAGR of 32.1%. The rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus will be fought by increasing the use of telemedicine services, which will be crucial in driving market expansion. In 2020, the market had a value of $144.38 billion.

    Four types of telehealth solutions

    • Live video (synchronous). Using audiovisual telecommunications technology provides a two-way interaction between a person (patient) and a doctor. This kind of service can take the place of in-person consultations, diagnostic tests, and therapy sessions. For instance, a patient could use real-time telemedicine to consult a doctor remotely and receive medical advice, a referral, or a necessary prescription if they need rapid treatment but have troubles with visiting  a doctor. It can be feasible using tablets, computer monitors, and, obviously, smartphones. 
    • Store-and-forward (asynchronous). Transmission of a patient’s recorded medical history (for instance, pre-recorded videos and digital images like x-rays and photos) to a practitioner who will use it to assess the situation or provide a service without a need for a patient to visit a clinic. In contrast to a real-time visit, this service offers access to data that has already been gathered and makes use of secure email as a communication method.
    • Remote patient monitoring (RMT). RMT implies collection of a patient’s health and medical information in digital format in one location and transmitting it to a provider in another location (often via a data processing service) for use in care and related support. With this kind of service, a practitioner can track  a patient’s medical information after sending them home or to a care facility, which lowers the rate of hospital readmissions.
    • Mobile health (mHealth). Patient participation, patient education, and public health initiatives are delivered via mobile communication devices like cell phones, and tablets, and it can also be called ‘‘mobile health’’ (mHealth). Applications include targeted text messages that encourage healthy behavior, widespread notifications about disease outbreaks, and apps that assist patients in self-diagnosing ailments. Due to the increase in smartphone use, mHealth is one of the telemedicine options that is expanding swiftly.

    Surf has been developing mobile applications for various industries for 12 years. We have experience working with fintech and banking applications as well as food tech and healthcare software. In this article, we’ll tell you about trends in the telemedicine software market for 2022.


    Trends for telemedicine software in 2022

    There is no doubt that COVID-19 boosted many shifts in improving the quality of our lives regarding health issues. We have already written an article about the trending technologies in telemedicine that you should pay attention to. Let’s briefly discuss what is important to know about each trend and how it can benefit your company:

    Data security with blockchain

    Blockchain-powered solutions  are very difficult to be changed or hacked. Using blockchain increases the level of security for healthcare companies which is the key priority for this kind of organization and their customers.

    Blockchain and IoT for supply chain traceability and anti-counterfeit protection

    The problem with fake drugs is vital for medical services now and was especially relevant when COVID-19 appeared. Looking for ways to solve the situation brought specialists in the field of healthcare to the decision of integrating blockchain and IoT for improving supply chain transparency and preventing distribution of fake goods and medicines as well. 

    IoT-based remote patient monitoring

    Remote patient monitoring helps each patient to keep in touch with a healthcare professional online. It can be a basic test to undergo or get the results via the platform without an additional need to go anywhere.  

    Smartwatches that track your health and fitness

    This trend is easy to understand for everyone who wears  a smartwatch everywhere. They can track patients’ activities and information related to their heart, check blood oxygen levels, and encourage them to move more or drink more water. 

    AI chatbots for patient support

    In cases when a patient needs prompt basic support, chatbots can help out. They don’t offer special highly qualified assistance, but can suggest what to do in common situations and can save the information provided earlier by the customer.

    AI for drug development

    It is another trending technology that targets improving the quality of drugs and the development and production speed. Artificial intelligence helps to reduce the number of trials and errors and offers a simplified visualization preserving all the important details. 

    Telemedicine for remote health care

    And now we are finally approaching the main trend of this article. The popularity of remote self-care significantly increased during the pandemic and still attracts users all around the globe. The main difference between remote patient monitoring (RPM) mentioned above and telemedicine is that telemedicine is much broader than RPM and includes different parts of the entire industry and the technologies used for this kind of service. Now let’s go deeper into details and focus on the challenges that the telemedicine industry faces in 2022. 

    Challenges for telemedicine software in 2022

    Poor UX\UI

    95% of healthcare apps are either never or only opened once. Companies must consider the importance of developing an excellent UX/UI design for their app and be aware of what motivates users to come back to an application again as they work to improve this reality. The underestimated problem that most telemedicine companies face when it comes to mobile app development — the UX\UI design for healthcare apps is unique and cannot be just copied from retail or other kinds of industries. It doesn’t mean that experiences of other companies are not relevant: the idea is to mindfully implement the used techniques adapting it to the healthcare specifics. 

    What is the solution for it? First of all, each company has to bear in mind that telemedicine apps’ audience is still not examined completely. The first stage of building a telemedicine application that we recommend our clients to start with is a Customer Journey Map research. Surf can assist you with this service and suggest the best innovative healthcare solutions for your project and its audience. Customer Journey Mapping helps to better understand the users’ needs, their reactions, and their behavior patterns, which help to create the most user-friendly and easy-to-navigate mobile applications. It is a relatively fast (5 non-consecutive working days) process that never goes in vain and brings you really meaningful insights that we will help you to implement afterward in a mobile application that will remain on your users’ list of the most frequently used ones. 

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    Privacy and security of patient data

    For many reasons, the healthcare industry has historically been one of the top targets for security threats. Healthcare organizations handle extremely private patient information that is highly valuable on the underground market. To stop hackers or other criminals  from stealing personal healthcare information data, communication tools and techniques must be maintained securely. And it is crucial to ensure the confidentiality and privacy of patient data and telemedicine privacy protection.

    What is the solution for it? One of the solutions is to carry out an external audit to identify and eliminate the lack of security and privacy before adopting a new IT-based process. 

    The business will fail if any data vulnerability is discovered. Consequently, a reliable app hosting company with cutting-edge security measures is quite important. Significantly, the right servers must be rented based on the size of the company and the volume of traffic. To give a seamless and uninterrupted service, dedicated servers with cutting-edge multi-layer security measures are advised. It costs more than shared hosting services, though. In addition, companies which comply with regulatory standards such as HIPAA, GDPR, or PIPEDA (depending on location and specifics) not only gain the trust of their customers, but also get guarantees that data is secured as much as possible. 

    Lack of accessibility

    This challenge may be divided into three aspects.

    • The first one comes from the disability perspective. 26% of people living in the USA have any kind of disability which makes this problem even more relevant. This is telemedicine that brings a huge undeniable impact on the improvement of the quality of life of people with impairments and their families. Telemedicine solutions have reportedly helped people with disabilities save money on healthcare and transportation, communicate better about drug reconciliation, be less exposed to infectious diseases , especially during pandemics, and less often apply to hired personal assistant services. Nevertheless, it may be still challenging for people with disabilities to accomplish the movements and positions required for a physical examination and at the same time, people with intellectual disabilities may not be able to describe everything that bothers them online. 
    • The second is a challenge  for older people to be able to use telemedicine due to the complexity of technologies.  25% of adults ages 65 and older report never going online. Thus, for such people, it is still a problem to get connected to the Internet even though this age group may need such services more than anyone else.
    • The third aspect of the accessibility challenge is a limited access to reliable broadband or satellite since live video requires high-quality Internet. According to the report Life in Rural America conducted 2019, 21% of Americans living in rural areas confessed that ​ access to high-speed Internet is still a problem for them and their families. This is a relevant issue, according to Kaspersky Healthcare report 2021, 34% of telemedicine providers reported cases when a diagnosis was wrong due to poor video or photo quality.

    What are the solutions for it? Each part of the challenge reveals the problem in society that should be solved to bring noticeable changes to our lives including in the telemedicine field. Nevertheless, each healthcare company can try to solve any issue through their services (both online and offline) to the extent it is possible.

    Let’s take the case with accessibility for older people as an example. It makes sense to improve UI/UX for this category of the audience. Keeping the specifics of their perception in mind, here are some of the points that are extremely important:

    Large and contrasting font is the key. Vision loss problems are a common situation among the elderly. To take care of them and make your application attractive to this segment of the audience, it is better to use a large contrasting font.

    Clear explanations and instructions. Things that are intuitively understandable for young people can cause questions for the older generation. If the young audience skips all the manuals, elderly people prefer to read everything carefully first.

    Less automatic settings. It is a follow-up suggestion for the previous point. Familiar and simple functions where everything is transparent and clear is the best solution for older generations. 

    How to cut healthcare software costs

    Another challenge for those planning to develop software for telehealth is undoubtedly the cost, especially when it comes to custom development. Let’s see what factors affect the development cost of mobile apps and what are the ways to minimize it:

    Apps complexity (features and functionality)

    The more complicated features an application has, the more expensive it is to develop and test them. The idea is to reduce the number of functions to a necessary minimum and eliminate unnecessary integrations with third-party services. It may not be easy to calculate which functions are really needed in a healthcare application in your particular case: there is a temptation to add everything that competitors or applications of other industries already have.

    The good news is that  we already know how to help you. Surf has developed a service Design sprint that helps to get an idea of the finished product concept, obtain supporting materials, and estimate the scope of work, terms, and budget for a specific project. As a result, you will understand which features you definitely should include in the first version of your app and get well-reasoned MVP composition, and risk review.

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    App development company

    The location of your business or development team is crucial. For instance, software engineers in the US charge over $100 per hour whereas those in the Eastern Europe  charge $35 to $45 without sacrificing the quality of their work. Hiring developers abroad is a smart decision for a US-based startup or business because it will significantly reduce costs. A solid app development company would have resources with knowledge in a variety of fields and would provide exceptional service. 

    Tech stack

    Native app development is a usual way for those who plan to have apps for both Android and iOS. But we recommend using Flutter cross-platform development where the code is written only once and it reduces the cost.

    Surf is one of the first companies to have started working with this framework in 2018 and our experience with Flutter is impressive. Surf has several large-scale projects and successful cases of working with Flutter. For example, we have developed 6 apps for a large pharmaceutical chain (both iOS apps and Android for 3 brands under the chain). We had a single code base that we reused and saved 40% of the project’s original budget. Isn’t this fantastic? 

    App updates and maintenance

    Mobile applications require updates and bug fixes to retain full compatibility with the newest devices and remain user-friendly. This is the reason why even after the application has been launched, it still demands time and resources. A rough estimate for maintenance is between 15 and 20 percent of the app’s annual development cost. 

    development cost components

    Summing things up

    Analyzing all the benefits and challenges for the telemedicine industry in 2022 it can be concluded that although telemedicine still faces many problems it has an undeniable impact on the quality of life of people and it has a future. The only question is how to maximize the effectiveness of Telemedicine Software in each unique case and save the most money on a budget.

    ​​To properly plan and develop your project, it’s worth starting with pre-project activities and a Customer Journey Map research for your mobile application with further MVP development, launch, maintenance, and extension. Surf can assist you in each stage of mobile app development and find the best solutions for your telemedicine application.