Telemedicine in Rural Areas: Key Features, Success Factors, Investments
ScienceSoft brings in 16 years of experience in healthcare software development to design and implement telemedicine software for care delivery to rural residents.
Telehealth software enables end-to-end healthcare services for rural residents with such functionality as videoconferencing, messaging, and patient monitoring. It provides access to necessary healthcare services (e.g., primary, acute, specialty care, chronic disease management), improves self-monitoring, and reduces avoidable travels to a healthcare provider’s office. Telehealth software costs vary between $150,000 and $400,000 and are impacted by the system complexity (e.g., advanced features, legacy software integrations).
App for rural patients
- To schedule and visit online consultations with medical staff (a physician, a nurse, etc.).
- To consult a doctor on disease symptoms (e.g., cough) via messaging.
- To log vitals and symptoms in the app.
- To access and use educational materials on self-monitoring, home care, and rehabilitation.
- To schedule necessary offline screenings and tests, etc., and receive notifications about them.
App for medical staff (physicians, nurses, etc.)
- To conduct online appointments and regular health checkups for rural patients.
- To manage patient treatment and medication plans.
- To schedule remote consultations with other specialists for rural patients.
- To monitor patients’ health state.
Video streaming server
For real-time audiovisual communication between medical staff and patients.
Cloud data storage and processing module
- Patient-doctor video appointments history and recordings.
- Messaging history.
- Shared images (e.g., photos of wounds).
- Patient data (e.g., health parameters remotely collected by medical devices, logged symptoms and vitals), and more.
Admin web panel
For hospital supervisors, telehealth program administrators, etc., to:
- Process emergency care requests from rural residents.
- Edit the list of rural telehealth app users (e.g., add users from new service regions).
- Manage access rights of rural telehealth app users.
- Manage medical staff’s schedules, etc.
Rural emergency care
- Emergency in-app ambulance call in case of an acute condition like hemorrhagic stroke, etc.
- Patient’s GPS location sharing with an emergency medical dispatcher or the paramedic team.
- (after the emergency call) Sharing a list of supporting activities with a patient / a caregiver waiting for the paramedics.
Communication between rural patients and medical staff
- Conducting scheduled video appointments for primary and specialty care, chronic disease management (e.g., diabetes, asthma, behavioral diseases).
- In-app text messaging (e.g., to consult on new symptoms, medication side effects).
- Image sharing (e.g., for a patient to send a photo of rash, for a doctor to send an instruction on bandage changing).
- Pre-appointment questionnaires to collect necessary information on a patient’s condition.
Medication and treatment management (for doctors)
- Treatment planning using customizable templates.
- In-app medication prescribing.
- Scheduling of online consultations for rural patients with other medical specialists.
- Scheduling of screenings and tests (e.g., complete blood count) for rural patients.
- Dashboards with patients’ treatment progress (e.g., recent vitals, treatment plan adherence).
Medication and treatment management (for patients)
- In-app medication plan.
- Requesting in-app prescription renewal to avoid lengthy travels.
- Prescription sending to a selected rural pharmacy.
- Notifications on and rescheduling of scheduled medical consultations, screenings and tests.
Home rehabilitation of rural patients
- Online rehabilitation sessions (after stroke, heart attack, surgery, etc.).
- Home care training sessions for a rural patient’s caregiver (e.g., a relative).
- Follow-up appointments with a doctor or a nurse to check the home recovery process (e.g., after a surgery).
Continuous health self-monitoring
- Logging symptoms (e.g., headaches, shortness of breath) and vitals (e.g., blood pressure, temperature) collected manually or via connected medical devices.
- Medication intake tracker with alerts and notifications.
- Daily activity, lifestyle, and nutrition log.
Patient knowledge base
- Interactive map with ERs and pharmacies nearby.
- First-aid instructions (e.g., for minor wounds, burns).
- Self-learning materials (e.g., articles, videos) on chronic disease prevention, management, healthy diet, and lifestyle.
Rural population health monitoring and management
- Notifications on upcoming immunizations (e.g., against COVID-19).
- Alerts on public health emergencies and natural disasters in the region with safety instructions provided.
- Recruitment of respondents for clinical trials, medical studies, researches.
- Multi-factor authentication for rural telemedicine app users (patients, nurses, doctors, hospital administrators, etc.).
- Role-based access management.
- End-to-end data encryption (e.g., of PHIs, appointments recordings).
- HIPAA and HITECH compliance.
- For an integrated view of rural patients’ medical history (chronic conditions, allergies, etc.).
- For automated visit logging in EHR for streamlined billing.
- For EHR-enabled integrations with accounting software, e-prescribing software used by pharmacies in the service region, etc.
Smart medical devices or biosensors
- To enable collection and processing of rural patient’s vitals (e.g., blood pressure, body temperature).
- To enable in-app monitoring of rural patients’ vitals by medical staff.
Medical imaging software
- For in-app access to patients’ medical images by medical staff.
Laboratory information system
- To provide doctors and patients with direct access to patients’ test results (HbA1c level, blood glucose, etc.) issued by any partnering local laboratory.
Practice management system
- To enable in-app access to medical specialists’ schedules for an administrator, a doctor, or a patient.
- For automated medical services billing, accounting, etc.
– to tackle remote communication disadvantages in the rural regions and ensure efficient remote consultations. For instance, if the internet connection is poor, software should be able to switch to audio communication using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) or cellular network. If the audiovisual communication is still poor, the doctors can opt for consulting via messages.
Smooth integration with healthcare IT systems
– to provide medical specialists with integrated health data view and timely access to all needed information from EHR, LIS, medical imaging software, etc., for remote diagnosing and efficient care delivery to rural patients.
Enhanced telehealth software usability
– to enable both expert and novice rural users to get remote healthcare services without training on software use.
The development costs of telemedicine software for rural areas with a general feature set (video appointments, audio calls, text messages, treatment planning, medication tracking, etc.) start from $150,000. The advanced features like patient data analytics, remote patient monitoring via connected devices/sensors, etc., impact the necessary investments and can increase them to $400,000. Depending on the number of telehealth visits, the number of medical staff members offering telehealth services, rural telehealth solutions can reach 100% ROI in ~6 months.
Key financial benefits
Expanded service area due to the ability to deliver care to hard-to-reach population groups, underserved regions, etc.
Decreased length of postoperative hospital stay for rural patients and lowered readmission rate due to telehealth-supported home care and rehabilitation.
Mitigated medical staff shortage in the service regions due to improved medical specialists’ efficiency, optimized schedules and decreased travel time.
Reduced operational expenses per rural patient (including efficient bed allocation) for hospitals due to decreased hospitalizations of remotely monitored patients with chronic diseases and other conditions.
Improved visit attendance (for patients with chronic conditions, mental health conditions, etc.).
Functionality tailored to the needs of a healthcare organization and rural patients
Software covers a wide array or a specific set of healthcare services and precisely fits into the healthcare organization’s workflows.
Advanced data analytics
Analytics of patient symptoms and vitals to predict the course of the disease, potential complications, and risks, optimize the set of required telehealth services for rural patients.
In healthcare IT since 2005, ScienceSoft has gained first-hand experience in healthcare software consulting and development and is ready to design and implement telemedicine software tailored for the needs of rural residents.
Consulting on telemedicine software for rural areas
- Requirements elicitation for rural telehealth software.
- Elaboration on telehealth software features.
- Design of architecture, integrations with the healthcare IT environment (e.g., EHR, practice management software).
- Reliable tech stack selection.
- Development investments and ROI estimation.
- Design of a project risk mitigation plan.
- Mapping regulatory compliance requirements for rural telehealth software (e.g., compliance with HIPAA, HITECH regulations).
Implementation of telemedicine software for rural areas
- Business and operational requirements gathering for rural telehealth software.
- Software features mapping and prioritization.
- Architecture design for rural telehealth software.
- User journeys planning and UX design.
- Sleek UI design of rural telehealth software.
- Implementation of integrations with healthcare IT systems (e.g., EHR, LIS).
- Telehealth app development and testing (featuring performance and HIPAA, HITECH compliance testing of the app).
ScienceSoft is a US-headquartered international IT consulting and software development company founded in 1989. With 16-year experience in healthcare IT and ISO 13485 certified quality management system, ScienceSoft is ready to deliver reliable telemedicine solutions for efficient care delivery in rural areas.