Telemedicine is one of the fastest-growing parts of the healthcare industry. According to Research and Markets, the telemedicine market was valued at $29.6 billion in 2017. It’s expected to grow at a CAGR of 19% and reach $64.1 billion by 2025. Many healthcare providers, development companies, and even individual practitioners are thinking about telemedicine app development, as it’s a lucrative business and the competition isn’t too intense yet.
There are currently many telemedicine solutions on the market, but not all of them have done it right: they often lack features, don’t provide enough security, or don’t have a clear and user-friendly UX. In my last article on telemedicine I talked about all this and introduced features of apps for both patients and doctors.
In this article I’ll cover two more vital components of your telemedicine software: the admin panel and the back end. These two parts of the software are responsible for your app’s speed, security, payments, and all the features inside your app. They also give you control over all the processes inside your telemedicine app.
What are the challenges of telemedicine?
There are several challenges in telemedicine development that are connected to the back end.
- Backend infrastructure
- Security issues
- Legal compliance
Backend infrastructure consists of a software architecture, technologies, and third-party components. Because telemedicine is based on chats and video conferencing, it’s vital to choose the right codecs, network type, transmission protocols, bandwidth, databases, and more.
You can use Backend-as-a-Service that’s already HIPAA compliant. It’s a great option for MVP
Third-party libraries for features like mobile payments also require attention. Your web developers should study the documentation and make sure the solutions they choose are secure and compatible with your overall infrastructure.
Note, that you can also use Backend-as-a-Service that’s already HIPAA compliant. It’s a great option for MVP: a HIPAA compliant backend for healthcare companies can save time on development and allow you to test your service.
Telemedicine applications can’t function without user data. Doctors need access to medical records, lab results, diagnoses, prescriptions, and insurance cards to effectively help remote patients.
Because doctor software stores and transfers this kind of data, security is a priority in any healthcare app development. The security of your medical app begins on the back end: you need to encrypt your databases and make sure that third-party components are updated and also built with security in mind.
To protect sensitive patient data, we advise encryption, obfuscation, two-factor authentication, and biometric identification for your doctor app. You should also perform regular penetration and security tests on all parts of your software. This is especially important if you plan to integrate with wearables.
Though this is not a technological challenge, it’s connected to the way your back end works. Different healthcare legislation includes requirements on how your software should work and how it should manage the sensitive data you get from your users.
Here are the primary healthcare laws around the world:
- US – HIPAA
- Canada – PIPEDA
- EU – GDPR (EU) 2016/679 and the e-Privacy Directive 2002/58/EC
- UK – Data Protection Act
- Asia – PIPA, PDPA (Singapore)
To make sure your application is safe and complies with the law, you should study applicable legislation and take it into account when building your back end that will store data on and share data among members of your telemedicine ecosystem. Also, it’s a good idea to check with an expert. If you use open source telemedicine software, make sure it’s compliant with the laws.
Cost of development
Building a telemedicine app from scratch may be costly, especially if you implement real-time video chats. To reduce the cost, you can use telemedicine platforms. To use them, you’ll need to pay a monthly or a yearly fee. Though it’s much cheaper than to develop your own telemedicine software, it may cost more in the long run.
If you need to customize a telehealth technology platform for your own needs, it will be hard to do. A custom solution is always more flexible and you can change it on demand.
Though off-the-shelf telemedicine platforms may cost less, you have little control over their features, abilities and security standards
Now that we’ve talked about the challenges of building healthcare apps, let’s see what admin panel features will help you provide the best service possible and grow your business.
Must-have features for a telemedicine admin panel
A telemedicine admin panel is the web part of your software that allows you to control all processes inside your app. It provides you with the necessary data, access to your users’ profiles, and all the tools you use to monetize your app. Let’s talk about the features that should definitely be present in your admin panel.
Each administrator needs a profile in the admin panel for a couple reasons. First, this will let you see who made changes in the admin panel and applications. Second, it will let you create different levels of access to protect data and keep control over certain features.
A personal profile should contain a name, email address, and role. With this feature, you’ll also need to implement login, signup, and restore password functionality.
Doctor profile management
You can view and manage doctors’ profiles right in your admin panel: get access to all of a doctor’s previous activity, delete an account if a doctor violates your policies, and edit information in a doctor’s profile at the request of a support center.
Patient profile management
View and edit the information in your patients’ profiles. You can get access to their payment history, activity, medical information, and so on.
With analytics inside your admin panel, you’ll always know what’s going on with your app from both the technical and marketing standpoints. See how many people have downloaded your application and signed up for your service. Learn what they do in your app, how much money they spend on appointments, and so on.
With big data technologies, you’ll be able to get a portrait of every user, from their demographic information to their electronic records and activity in your app. This will help you make special offers, send relevant push notifications, and enhance your marketing.
For mobile analytics, we always recommend Google Analytics, Crashlytics, and Flurry
With information from analytics, you can also see how your app performs: if there are any crashes, why they happen, how fast the app loads, if there are any interruptions during video chats.
For mobile analytics, we always recommend Google Analytics, Crashlytics, and Flurry.
Send push notifications to both patient and doctors to inform them about upcoming appointments, updates to your policies, special offers, and so on. You can group users according to their demographics, activities, or other parameters to send targeted notifications.
Through a notification center in your admin panel, you can also automate your notifications and send them at a certain time to a certain audience or after a certain feature is used in your app.
Integration with EHR systems
Integrate your admin panel with an electronic health records system. This will allow you to see the latest updates to a patient’s health records in case there are any questions or concerns. EHR integration requires a focus on security and strong development skills because EHR systems are almost always legacy systems, so integrating them can be challenging.
Because EHR systems are based on a legacy code and technologies, it can be challenging to integrate them into a modern software
See the schedules of all users and doctors and manage schedules when necessary to avoid overbookings. You can also allow walk-in appointments so that a user can find a doctor immediately and the system will put them in a queue.
If your telehealth app allows immediate appointments without bookings, you can add a smart queue that will assign free doctors on demand. This works like Uber: a doctor can accept the request if they’re available.
Video recording management
If you record videos of appointments, you should be able to view and manage them on demand. Sometimes, you’ll need to retrieve important information from a video or provide access to it for patients and doctors in case they need a recap.
Without a video connection it will be harder to compete with other telehealth products on the market
Receive payment from your users and connect your payment gateway to your analytics to receive information about your revenue and business growth.
Support live chat
Implement live chat into your application and answer your users’ questions from an admin panel. Apart from live chat, you can allow users to ask questions that don’t require an immediate answer.
These are just some of the features you might want to add to your telemedicine admin panel. Remember that you can choose some of these features for your MVP and add others later. Another option is to simplify these features. For example, you could implement text chat between doctors and patients instead of video conferencing.
Note, however, that without a video connection it will be harder to compete with other telehealth products on the market.
Now that we’ve talked about the features, let’s see what technologies you may need to implement them.
Backend technologies for a telemedicine app
Your back end consists of four parts: a database, a framework, a server, and an admin panel. Let’s talk about the technologies you’ll need for each of these.
The framework is the link between your app’s interface and the database. It processes requests and initiates processes according to your business logic. Usually, frameworks contain lots of ready solutions for all kinds of functionality, from mobile payments and maps to admin panels and search.
Frameworks are language-dependent. Here we’ll talk about frameworks written in PHP, Python, and Ruby, which are three popular backend languages.
These are the most advanced frameworks for PHP. Symfony is my top choice, as it provides lots of off-the-shelf solutions for admin panels and other functionality. However, Laravel and Zend are also good options for telemedicine.
Django has its own admin panel, so you won’t need to integrate a third-party component. Python is a great language to work with if you plan to integrate AI or big data.
- Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails is an advanced framework with lots of ready solutions. However, its lack of support makes it a bit harder to use. Ruby is a good option for big telemedicine projects with lots of functionality.
A database organizes and stores all the data about your users, including their activity, and the information they’ve shared with your app. Here are the most popular databases:
MongoDB is a very fast database for making dynamic changes to data. It usually works in combination with another database that’s slower but has more storage capacity.
PostgreSQL is a complex database for software that needs non-standard solutions and requires additional abilities.
MySQL is one of the best databases out there: it’s functional, productive, and provides almost everything a telemedicine app might need.
Two additional tools you might use are Redis and Memcached. These are caching tools that help to relieve pressure on the database by storing some data in RAM. This allows the system to access this data quickly without having to send a request to the database.
When it comes to servers, you can choose either a dedicated server or a cloud server. A dedicated server is a separate physical machine that you rent. A cloud server is a virtual server that consists of virtual storage on different physical servers.
My advice is to choose cloud servers for telemedicine. First, you’ll be able to scale your storage quickly, and second, they’re just easier to set up. For highly sensitive information, you can have an additional dedicated server or buy your own hardware.
Here are the most popular options for cloud servers:
- Amazon Web Services
- Microsoft Azure
To process server requests, I advise this web server software:
- Apache HTTP Server
4. Admin panel
The admin panel you choose will depend on the framework you choose. For example, if your framework is Symfony, these are your options:
- Easy Admin
- API Platform admin
- Sonata Admin
All of them are great, and other frameworks have their own options for admin panels.
This is a summary of the technologies you’ll need for your back end and admin panel. I’ve also listed technologies for integrating video conferencing and real-time text chats into your telemedicine app.
|Web server software|
|Real-time text chat|
Now let’s talk about the cost of developing an admin panel for a telemedicine app.
How much does a telemedicine admin panel cost?
The cost of dashboard development in healthcare depends on several factors:
- Hourly rates of developers
- Cost of third-party services
The developer’s hourly rate influences the final cost the most. For example, a complete telemedicine project with Android and iOS apps, a back end, and an admin panel can cost around $40,000 to $55,000 if developed in Ukraine. The same project could cost over $100,000 if developed in the US or Western Europe.
Here I’ll show you the approximate estimate of each feature in hours. This will give you an idea of what an admin panel for a telemedicine app might cost depending on the hourly rate of your developers.
A telemedicine admin panel is a must for controlling your software and getting information that will help you grow your business even faster. To create an admin panel, you need to build a back end. For the back end, I advise PHP or Python, cloud servers, and a couple of databases that each will be responsible for different tasks.
After you build your back end and an admin panel, you’ll be able to view your users, analyze their activity, help them use your software, and promote your services through relevant push notifications.
Want to build a telemedicine app? Mobindustry provides full-cycle development services including back end, mobile, and admin panel development.
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