Telemedicine App Development: Planning, Sourcing and Costs
In software development since 1989, ScienceSoft uses 16-year expertise in healthcare IT to advise on and develop reliable telemedicine software.
Telemedicine app development in brief
The development of a telehealth app MVP may take around 4-8 months for the development, including steps like requirements engineering, project planning, UX and UI design, app development and launch. The project requires a team of a project manager, a business analyst, a regulatory consultant, UI and UX designers, front-end and back-end developers, QA and DevOps engineers, and the development costs start from $150,000.
Depending on a telemedicine application’s specific features and scale, the development plan steps and their duration may differ, some of them may overlap with each other. Below we present a generalized process outline.
Step 1. Telehealth app requirements engineering and software planning
Duration: from 4 weeks.
- For product companies: Telemedicine app market and competitors research, target customers identification, and a telehealth app idea productization.
- For healthcare organizations: Business needs specification and telehealth software requirements elicitation.
- Listing and prioritizing telemedicine software features (e.g., symptom-based doctor search, real-time video communication between doctors and patients), creating user scenarios for patients, doctors, admins; for telehealth products – splitting features into subscription plans.
- Gathering compliance requirements for applicable regulations (e.g., HIPAA, HITECH) and standards.
- High-level integrations design (e.g., with EHR, Health Information Exchange, Laboratory Information System), preliminary HIPAA-compliant software architecture design, tech stack selection, identification of needed software licenses.
- For telemedicine products: Customizations design – to define telehealth app capabilities allowing the customers to modify certain app modules.
- Preliminary budget planning.
The phase deliverables include:
- General telehealth software requirements specification.
- Telehealth app feature list.
- High-level telehealth app architecture design.
- Preliminary budget.
Step 2. Project planning
Duration: from 2 weeks.
- Project scope.
- Software development life cycle model (e.g., Agile methodologies such as Scrum, Kanban, are effective for complex projects requiring team flexibility).
- Budget plan.
- Project schedule, iterations, milestones and KPI plan.
- Software development risk assessment and a risk mitigation plan (covering such risks as delays in the development, third-party medical software integration issues, etc.).
- Assessment of the telehealth software usage risks (e.g., potential app misuse, risks to patients’ health) and mitigation plan.
Step 3. UX and UI design
Duration: from 2 weeks (may run simultaneously with project planning).
– identifying main user scenarios (e.g., video appointment scheduling, prescription renewal) and visualizing the core functionality of a telehealth application (e.g., patient-doctor messaging, vitals’ tracking), mapping convenient user journeys (for patients, physicians, nurses, administrators).
– to visualize how the telehealth app will look.
– to create attractive graphic interface elements.
The phase deliverables include:
- UX wireframes.
- User interface design document (all screens, assets, and source files).
Step 4. Telehealth application development and launch
Duration: starting from 2-6 months for the minimum viable product (MVP).
Back-end and front-end development of the telehealth app – to create the server side of the application and APIs and transform UI design elements into a functioning user side.
Testing – runs simultaneously with development to check a telehealth app’s functional requirements, identify and fix software defects, verify telehealth software security and HIPAA compliance, test usability and stability of the application.
Revision of software usage risks – addressing the new risks, and actualization of the mitigation plan.
Revision of telehealth software documentation – if the requirements changed during the app development.
App certification according to relevant standards – e.g., 21 CFR 11 – for apps dealing with electronic prescriptions, IEC 82304-1:2016 – if the app presupposes integration with medical sensors or devices.
Pilot roll-out – to present the fully developed app to the focus group (e.g., a group of doctors and patients in the healthcare organization), get their feedback, and improve the telehealth app accordingly.
Telehealth app launch
ScienceSoft’s tip: If your telehealth app needs early stakeholder or market validation, we recommend starting with MVP (minimum viable product) development. You may develop core intended app functionality with simple UX and UI design, and then adjust the telehealth app MVP (e.g., enhance user experience) and prioritize developing secondary features based on stakeholder or user feedback.
Development phase deliverables include:
- Developed and deployed telehealth application.
- Detailed architecture design.
- Application’s source code.
- Test documentation
- App setup guide, admin guide, support guide, user guide (for patients and for doctors).
Step 5. Telemedicine software maintenance and evolution
- Telehealth software and underlying infrastructure support and maintenance – to mitigate incidents, fix revealed defects and facilitate smooth work and evolution of the app.
- Telehealth software security audits – to regularly verify PHI security, test the application and its infrastructure for HIPAA compliance.
- Telemedicine software evolution – to roll out new features and improve software based on the analyzed feedback from clinical staff and patients.
Creates a telemedicine app project plan and supervises it, assigns tasks to the project team, monitors delivery timing and budget, mitigates risks (e.g., lack of resources or capabilities, delays), and ensures smooth communication within the team.
Elicits telemedicine software requirements, outlines features, tech limitations, defines necessary app integrations with other healthcare software (e.g., EMR, practice management software).
Designs end-to-end user experiences and interactions with a telehealth app based on the UX research, creates wireframes and prototypes, tests telemedicine app usability.
Designs an attractive visual interface of a telemedicine app.
Builds the server side of a telehealth app.
Creates the user side of a telehealth app.
Creates a test strategy, designs, executes, and maintains test cases according to it, reports telemedicine software defects.
Sets and maintains the telehealth application development infrastructure, automates software development and delivery, monitors telehealth application security, performance, availability, etc.
Advises on the software architecture components, optimal technologies, development process, and project documentation management to ensure HIPAA and HITECH compliance.
In-house telemedicine app development
Pros: Telehealth app development is fully under your control.
Cons: High risk of delays or quality issues due to the lack of necessary resources or expertise.
Part of technical resources is outsourced
Pros: Easy access to high-profile healthcare IT expertise (e.g., in remote patient monitoring, IoMT) while retaining high control over the telehealth app development process.
Cons: Need for establishing smooth communication and cooperation processes with the outsourced talents.
All technical resources are outsourced
Pros: Cost-effective resource allocation, well-established communication within the team and availability of necessary technical capabilities.
Cons: Coordination of the team (often geographically dispersed) and risk management are on your side.
Fully outsourced app development
Pros: Full responsibility for the telehealth app development process and resources lies on the vendor.
Cons: High dependency on the vendor and increased vendor risks.
According to HIPAA, if you opt for outsourcing any development activities, you should sign a Business Associate Agreement with a vendor having access to PHIs (protected health information) to ensure data security, solid encryption methods, security practices documentation, and emergency protocols.
If you want to incorporate Software as a Medical Device features (e.g., heart-rate monitoring using a smartphone) into your telemedicine application, we recommend paying attention to FDA registration of your software and checking if your vendor works according to IEC 62304:2006/Amd 1:2015 and ISO 13485 standards.
To develop an efficient telehealth application, we suggest you choose a HIPAA-compliant cloud platform that allows secure PHI storage, processing, analyzing, and sharing.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Best for: hybrid cloud and IoMT
- AWS has been recognized as a Leader in Gartner’s Infrastructure & Platform Services Magic Quadrant for 10 consecutive years.
- A wide array of HIPAA-compliant cloud services (e.g., for telehealth, PHI storage, IoMT device management, analytics, data sharing, etc.) for cost-effective app development.
- Services to seamlessly align the on-premises and cloud infrastructure (e.g., AWS Outposts).
Best for: IoMT and machine learning
- Microsoft holds the second place in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services.
- HIPAA compliance is ensured by ISO/IEC 27001 certification.
- Numerous HIPAA-compliant services for PHI storage, data management, machine learning, IoMT, etc.
Google Cloud Platform
Best for: highly variable telehealth app load
- Google Cloud Platform is on the third place in the Leaders category of Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services.
- 90+ HIPAA-compliant cloud services (e.g., Google Cloud Load Balancer, Google Drive, Cloud IoT Core, Cloud SQL, Cloud Storage) for streamlined telehealth app development.
Costs to build a telehealth application vary depending on the following factors:
Here are sample costs for telehealth software development (excluding infrastructure costs):
Healthcare organization (with 1-50 doctors)
Healthcare product company
ScienceSoft has 16-year experience in developing software for healthcare and knows how to create a telemedicine application for safe and convenient care delivery.
Telemedicine app consulting
- Defining telehealth app features based on needs analysis.
- Selecting telemedicine app tech stack and designing architecture.
- Suggesting relevant advanced technologies (IoT, AI, machine learning, etc.).
- Helping comply with healthcare industry regulations (HIPAA, HITECH).
- Planning a telemedicine app development roadmap.
Telemedicine app development
- Telemedicine software requirements elicitation.
- Drawing up a holistic feature set.
- Designing UX and UI.
- Telemedicine application development and testing.
- Designing and implementing integrations with third-party software (e.g., EHR, CRM, practice management software).
- Telehealth application launch.
- Telehealth application support and evolution (if required).
ScienceSoft is a US-based international IT consulting and software development vendor. Our 32-year experience in software development and 16-year expertise in healthcare IT helps us create telemedicine applications aimed at providing reimbursable care remotely.