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Bhaskar Banerjee
Bhaskar Banerjee

Once the pandemic hit, demand for virtual consultations spiked. While many leading healthcare organizations had their digital medical platforms, they required upgrades to meet the unanticipated demand. Healthcare and life sciences organizations responded by investing in research and technology to upgrade their telemedicine services and provide healthcare access to patients without the risk of infection.

Days into the pandemic, the world realized the need for effective telemedicine platforms that offered consultation and treatment without stepping out of the house. For healthcare and life sciences organizations, it was a defining moment. Those without telemedicine facilities started conceptualizing their platforms. Those with existing telemedicine platforms saw the need to upgrade them.

For instance, a leading Indian pharmaceutical company realized the need to create a digital platform that allows doctors to interact with patients seamlessly and faster. Besides understanding the customer concerns and needs, developing the platform needed tech expertise. The pharma company onboarded Nagarro to develop a mobile and web-based practice management application that allows doctors to set up a virtual clinic for patients and seamlessly manage appointments.

The app was designed using Angular, Ionic, Javascript, Typescript, and Power BI technologies and leveraged some of the core Azure services for storage, API management, and notifications. The app also catered to the need for self-learning through personalized access to journals, eBooks, and webinars and built a social network in the medical community. The doctors and customers benefited from the app alike as it was a one-stop platform for doctors to suffice all their needs with more convenience.

Multiple other organizations from the sector turned to technology to upgrade their offerings fast enough to keep up with the outbreaks. A leading Indian healthcare brand took its entire gamut of services online, including consultations, diagnostics, and pharmacy services. They use Azure, MySQL, Node.js, and Drupal services to manage their omnichannel pharmacy, offline/online consulting, personal health record management, and content management. Nagarro supported them with its tech wizardry and ensured secure and reliable online transactions, standardization & digitization of patient health records, and a robust physical and digital ecosystem.

Advancements in technology, relaxation of regulatory restrictions, increasing pressure on providers to serve ever-rising patients, lack of specialists in behavioral health and specialty care, and a rise in-home care for patients with chronic conditions have increased the adoption of telemedicine. According to a McKinsey report, in April 2020, overall telehealth utilization for office visits and outpatient care was 78 times higher than in February 2020. And it stabilized at 38 times pre-covid levels in 2021.

The same research states that “between 40 and 60 percent of consumers expressed interest in virtual health solutions. However, a gap has historically existed between consumers’ expressed interest in digital health solutions and actual usage. It is, therefore, important to create a seamless consumer interface and break down silos in care provision with improved data integration and insights and proactive consumer engagement to sustain and grow virtual health consumption.

What makes a successful telemedicine platform?

Our experience of working with global companies in the sector tells us that a telemedicine platform’s success depends on the following factors:

  • Reliability: High-quality connections, Fast connection speed, Adaptive video for low bandwidth
  • Simplicity: User-friendly, Simple design, intuitive navigation, personalized
  • Synergy: Consuming EHR data from various providers and data from wearable devices on the platform
  • Secure: Compliance with a legal framework and healthcare regulations
  • Futuristic: Quick to adopt new technologies such as AI for remote patient monitoring and intelligent diagnoses. AR/VR for personalized user experience and better diagnosis

How do you develop a successful telemedicine application?

A telemedicine application must have features/ attributes customized to the user segment to ensure good patient adoption and sustained growth. If patients are the targeted users, the platform must be developed to enable them to interact with doctors, explain their medical history, and access healthcare that fits their budget anywhere and anytime. Such a telemedicine platform should have the following capabilities:

  • Patient profile details, including vital health-related information
  • Advanced search and filters to find a doctor based on symptoms, budget, location, language, expertise
  • Appointment scheduling with the capability to integrate with their calendar.
  • Secure Payment GW with multiple options for payment
  • Integration with Insurance providers, Labs, and pharmacy

If developing a telemedicine platform for doctors, organizations must ensure that they can interact with the customers at their convenience, understand their concerns and history, and prescribe the best possible treatment. This requires the following features:

  • Physician profile details, specialization, competencies, experience, training, publications & research
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Secure access to EHRs
  • e-prescription & smooth payout for consultation
  • e-learning tools

The capabilities for a telemedicine platform catering to hospitals must have Integration with the EHR system, monitoring discharged patients and managing their recovery, and scheduling in-person visits. Similarly, telemedicine platforms must be tailored to meet the needs of caregivers and other users from the healthcare sector.

Technologies enabling telemedicine

After the segmentation and user need analysis, organizations need to find the right technologies and the technology partner that can help them build successful telemedicine platforms. For instance, if you need to build an application to assist patients in finding doctors and setting up appointments, an AI-based chatbot will serve your needs. Health bots are already helping customers worldwide access healthcare conveniently.

Beyond chatbots, AI is also being used in teleradiology, telepathology, teledermatology, and telepsychiatry. The application of AI goes beyond just identifying the diagnostic needs of the customers. It is also helping cut down the pressure on the healthcare sector by automatically translating prescriptions into Electronic Health Records (EHRs).

IoT in the telemedicine field is rapidly being used as well. IoT-powered wearables and other medical devices, such as blood pressure or sugar monitors, help keep track of vitals in case of high-risk patients. Care providers can further monitor the data from these devices to ensure prevention and timely treatment. Physicians can use IoT devices to monitor their patients, and insurance companies to track health data from these devices and use this information to settle claims.

Is it time to hop on the telemedicine bandwagon?

Telemedicine platforms can ensure seamless healthcare services due to better collaboration among doctors, nursing staff, and patients. These digital platforms make routine healthcare more convenient and accessible, reduce the cost of care for providers and patients due to a decrease in travel/wait time and optimize medical facilities, improving the experience for patients, especially those with mental and chronic health conditions.

The pandemic has triggered the much-required behavioral change for telemedicine adoption, and it will only grow stronger from here. A report by Fortune Business Insights titled “Telemedicine Market, 2020-2027” mentions the market size at USD 79.79 billion in 2020 and anticipates the global telemedicine market size to reach USD 396.76 billion by 2027 with a CAGR of 25.8%. With these growth avenues in sight, healthcare and life sciences organizations must adapt to the changing telemedicine landscape and leverage the right technologies to create future-forward business strategies.