Telehealth is booming, and 2020 is the perfect opportunity for you to establish your place in the market. Forrester Research predicts that virtual health-care interactions will top 1 billion by the end of the year, and Rock Health reported that over $3 billion had been invested in telehealth in the first quarter.
The coronavirus outbreak, advances in software and video technology, and acceptance from the healthcare industry have all contributed to an unprecedented spike in demand for telemedicine apps. Proper execution is crucial to beating the competition and you need to get your telemedicine platform up and running smoothly as soon as possible. If you already have a solution in the market, then expanding functionality and features will help you stay competitive.
This article covers what it takes to build a telehealth app quickly and efficiently, while still producing a high-quality product that provides value to both patients and healthcare providers.
Team augmentation is a staffing strategy where outsourced talent is brought into a project to support an in-house development team. The outsourced talent may or may not work in the same location as the internal team, but current remote work technology has made that a non-issue.
If handled properly, team augmentation can benefit the project in several ways:
Instantly expand the size of your team. Veteran augmentation teams will be able to join a project with minimal onboarding as they are used to hopping in and out of client projects midstream. The project manager can assign them work appropriate to their experience level, thus spreading the work more evenly on the shoulders of more people, and reserving internal teams for the most important or challenging tasks.
Accelerated project timeline. Because the augmentation team is working alongside the existing team, more work gets done at a faster pace. There may be additional quality checks required to guarantee code compatibility, but there should be an overall increase in the project’s pace if you outsource to the right partners.
Broader app experience. An outsourced team will have experience working on a wider variety of projects in a range of different industries. This experience allows them to bring an outsider’s perspective into your project and may possibly uncover better ways of doing things or expose something you’ve overlooked in your own planning.
Of course, these benefits only apply if you choose your outsourced team wisely and give them work that they can reasonably take on. Tasks that require a deep familiarity with the rest of the project or internal company workings will be more difficult for a newcomer to run with.
Skill set extension
Another way to boost the pace of development is to extend your current skill set.
In-house teams may not always have the level of expertise necessary to develop a complex or highly niche project. This is especially likely for health tech projects, which are regulated by HIPAA and thus have stricter security and encryption requirements, or for projects that use a specific technology like video conferencing.
You may also require more people to fill out dedicated team roles, such as product management, quality assurance, design, or development functions. While there are people who can wear many hats, doing the work of other specialists reduces the time they spend on their actual job.
Augmenting your team with external specialists helps you overcome these technological and market challenges to make the best possible product for your customers without needing to hire.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if too many patients accessed the platform at once? Would it run just as smoothly as before, or would there be an interruption of service or degradation in performance? Either can have a serious impact. If you haven’t properly designed your platform to scale, you’ll have to scramble to apply ad hoc changes to your code to accommodate the flood of new users. This will trigger a chain of unforeseen problems as the band-aid solutions are slapped on to the platform.
If you’re building a platform vital to patients or providers, then this sudden failure could cause serious problems at an inconvenient moment.
When you design your back-end for scalability, you’re giving it room to grow with your user base. It requires more front-loaded effort on your part and may take a little time, but it’s an investment that will pay off in dividends once more users start getting on board.
Software teams frequently debate the effectiveness of different development practices; particularly that of waterfall and agile. While waterfall is a proven methodology that has distinct advantages, our experience has shown that the agile methodology is best suited for the rapid development of complex software projects.
Agile is an iterative development process that prioritizes flexible planning, independent teams, and rapid product development. It divides the project into small phases called sprints that last 2-4 weeks each. Each sprint’s goal is to release a usable component of the product and build upon that with every additional sprint for as long as the project is active.
Working with Agile methodology has many advantages:
Faster time-to-market. Because each sprint results in a usable version of the platform, patients, providers, and their staff will be able to access new features sooner and spread word of the product faster.
Immediate feedback. The development team will be able to collect user comments and suggestions with each new release, instead of working on the project for months and only getting feedback when the final project is completed.
Greater customer value. Agile’s iterative nature helps ensure that the development team is working on features that give users the most benefit. Also, developers can quickly address bugs or design flaws thanks to how quickly users can provide feedback.
As beneficial as the Agile methodology is, it’s very easy to get wrong. You need developers who are experienced in working in an iterative environment and senior team members who know how to function as scrum masters and product owners.
If you don’t have these people in your organization, it may be better to outsource the development of your telehealth platform to a third party that has more experience working in an Agile environment.
Getting to the finish line
Many other companies have already developed or are currently developing their own telehealth platform. The best way to differentiate yourself is to invest the time, effort and funds required to develop your platform properly. Getting a product out the door quickly means nothing if the features don’t meet users’ needs and the competition ends up with a better product.
There are a number of cost-effective ways you can improve your development process, whether it’s adopting a new product management methodology, investing more effort into a scalable design, or augmenting your team’s capabilities.
If you want suggestions on how to boost the development of your telehealth project, reach out to us.