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Last updated: Apr 20, 2020

Top telehealth app upgrades to make in 2020

Author: Maria Tsarouva
Last updated: Apr 20, 2020
What's inside

A report by Mordor Intelligence predicts that the telehealth industry has grown exponentially and achieved a compound annual growth rate of 18% in the last year alone. This trend of growth means two things: increased competition and an essential need to stay ahead of it.

Regardless of the success of your telehealth app, it's imperative that it continues to improve and add new features regularly. With the high number of new users to onboard, it’s crucial to ensure that your app remains user friendly and easy-to-use and supports multiple devices.

Not only will this help to ensure that your app stays competitive, but it allows your app to evolve to meet the needs of your client base — healthcare providers.

This is especially important in the wake of COVID-19’s global impact. Healthcare providers are looking for ways to improve their patient care practices to ensure that they are providing the best care possible and keeping their patients and themselves healthy.

Now is the time to plan and implement telehealth app upgrades that will bring value to the healthcare industry. That said, you need to know where to start. Ask yourself this critical question: What features could make your telehealth app better?

Look no further for the answer! Here are all the essential upgrades for telehealth apps in 2020 and how they can benefit healthcare providers.

AI diagnosis


Healthcare workers have been scrambling to provide the best care for all of their patients, even as they are battling the onslaught of this deadly disease. This has given rise to many problems — namely limiting in-office visits to decrease the risk to patients and healthcare providers alike.

To mitigate this problem, your telehealth app should have a powerful and intuitive AI diagnosis feature. Enabling patients to be assessed and diagnosed before an in-office visit results in more efficient patient care and prioritizes the safety of everyone involved.

Most recently, Microsoft has rolled out its AI chatbot software to aid in the fight against COVID-19. The chatbot, named Corey, allows patients to run through a self-assessment questionnaire to help determine the next steps for patients who have concerns about being infected with the virus.

Corey has handled almost half a million messages and has effectively reduced the overwhelming demand on the healthcare providers and their servers at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. Implementing tech like this across multiple hospitals can result in a similar decrease in demand on a larger scale and allow hospitals to better control the influx of patients.

Dialogue, a Canadian-founded telehealth app and our proud client at the same time, is another prime example here. This app helps businesses give employees access to multiple healthcare benefits, thus empowering them to be more proactive about physical and mental health. The goal is to reduce employee sick days so that the business flow doesn’t lose momentum.

It has certainly worked, as Dialogue has enjoyed exponential growth since its founding in 2016. One of the most recent updates is that Dialogue and Sun Life, a well-known life insurance company, have joined forces to offer virtual healthcare services to an additional 3+ million Canadians.

One of Dialogue's secret recipes of maintaining the highest levels of service during those large client inflows is using AI. AI techniques are used for gathering data to output smart recommendations to the medical team and identifying high-risk patients. The latter includes a chat-based AI-driven triage system, offering a series of questions intended for identifying red flags and signs of serious conditions.

Remote monitoring of medical implants

One of the newcomers to the telehealth space are implants that can be monitored via app. Typically these implants utilize Bluetooth to collect data via a patient’s smartphone and send the information to the patient’s healthcare provider at regular intervals.

Not only will this allow you to provide a unique feature to healthcare providers and patients, but it will also put your telehealth app ahead of the curve when it comes to supporting this burgeoning technology.

Abbott, a California-based telehealth company, has cornered the market of remote monitoring of medical implants. In 2017, the FDA approved the company’s product Confirm Rx, an Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM) and since then the company has rolled out a variety of products that allow doctors to provide quality care to their patients even from thousands of miles away.

Tighter cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is one of the most essential telemedicine app features. All telehealth apps should be equipped with security features that keep patient and doctor information safe. However, the best telehealth applications go above-and-beyond when it comes to ensuring that their cybersecurity protocol utilizes best practices and is kept up-to-date.

Basic telehealth cybersecurity in the U.S. should be in compliance with HIPAA laws and the HITECH Act which aims to protect patient information in the digital age. Increased cybersecurity will encourage health providers and patients to use your app and feel safe.

Most importantly, your cybersecurity protocols should be ever-evolving. Patient information sharing for telehealth technology enforced by HIPAA regulation has changed in the wake of the recent events.

Telehealth technology users will not be subject to violations in the event that they have been using telehealth in good faith to provide patients the best care possible. Healthcare providers won't be punished for utilizing non-HIPAA telecommunication products, so long as they aren't public-facing. In short, apps like Tik Tok or Facebook Live are not permitted, while apps like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or Skype are in the clear.

Interactive voice response (IVR)

IVR utilizes simple technology: a keypad and speech recognition. The tech enables companies to increase their efficiency and service to their customers by allowing them to access services via phone call. Typically, IVR is used when customers need help, services, or other information. It may also be a preferred method of communication for those who are visually impaired.

Why add this upgrade to your telemedicine app?

IVR can enable patients to access a range of services from making an appointment to giving them the latest information about their prescriptions. Users can make payments, get valuable information about their accounts, and be directed to a representative that can help all with a single phone call. These systems keep the phone lines as clear as possible and effectively address patient concerns.

Google Fit and HealthKit Integration


Data from the Pew Research Center shows that 21% of Americans use fitness and health tracking technology via app and wearables. Even more impressively, fitness tracking apps have seen a sharp rise in use. For example, the Nike Training App has doubled its weekly users in the U.S. within the first three months of 2020 according to a report.

Not to mention, people have been buying more health tracking wearables than ever before. Just last year Apple sold more Apple Watches than the entire Swiss Watch industry in 2019 according to a report from CNN.

Google Fit and Apple HealthKit are services that work on the two major mobile operating systems to collect health data from multiple apps and information that a smartphone collects. These apps help patients gain better insights into their wellness and lifestyle habits. These trackers collect and process important patient data including:

  • Activity Goals
  • Calories Burned
  • Calories Consumed
  • Heart Rate
  • Ovulation
  • Mental Health

Health tracking apps can allow healthcare providers to gain a fuller picture of their patient's health and how they can improve their care. Integrating these tools into your app maximizes the amount of valuable information your app provides.

Doctor accessible medical prescriptions and pharmacy database

One of the most important aspects of patient care is what happens following diagnosis. In many cases, a patient is prescribed medicine to treat their ailment. That said, hospitals and doctor's offices often bypass a traditional pharmacy and supply the medication to patients via their own stores.

The priority is to ensure that they are prescribing patients the best medications and enabling them to use it safely — that's where a pharmacy database comes in. A pharmacy database allows doctors to queue up essential information before prescribing a drug. Doctors can see patient allergies, a patient’s medication history, and the effectiveness of a medication.

Additionally, a pharmacy database is utilized by a team of professionals within a hospital or clinic. Pharmacists, researchers, and health information professionals utilize data found in databases to conduct valuable studies and track important trends regarding the use and distribution of medication.

Utilizing this information, doctors can share medication history, find providers for consults, give referrals, and calculate a patient’s dosage, it’s an all-in-one feature. Health providers can access this information on the go, whether they are using their tablet, laptop, or smartphone.

Cloud-based e-record storage

Cloud-based e-record storage supports healthcare providers on the go, they'll have access to information on the cloud when they need it and won't be limited to a single device. Whether they need to look up a client’s medical history or simply need to access a prescription date, this information is made readily available through an e-record system.

Additionally, healthcare providers can update records and add pertinent patient care information, so everyone on their team has all the necessary information to provide the best care.

Waiting room and scheduling features


Help patients improve their visits to the doctor's office! Adding features that decrease the wait time for patients and make it easy to change or make an appointment allows your clients to run things more efficiently.

This upgrade should allow patients to arrive in-person to their appointments and allow them to sign in, fill out questionnaires, and update any of their personal information all the while waiting for their provider.

On the patient's side, virtual waiting rooms can not only reduce in-person visits, but it allows patients to "see" a doctor when they are available for remote urgent care services. This can occur via video chat, phone call, or messaging. Patients get the professional opinion of a healthcare provider without the in-office visit.

No robust telemedicine app development is complete without these features. Consider adding Apple Calendars and Google Calendar integrations.

The Bottom Line

We are facing a health crisis that is unprecedented in modern times. Healthtech is an essential part of the healthcare industry and can reduce the overwhelming strain on hospitals and healthcare providers. We have already seen examples in which the telehealth industry has responded immediately and effectively to aid healthcare providers.

Telehealth apps have already risen to the occasion, from chatbots to remote urgent care, these apps have had to develop and evolve rapidly in the wake of an exponentially increased demand. However, there’s always something to improve on and new ways to better support patients and healthcare providers.

Now is the time to upgrade and grow. Even major platforms are doing their part to help. Plug and Play has developed a COVID-19 Accelerator to aid and expand healthtech, enterprise tech, and supply chain innovation. We're helping startups from Plug and Play's accelerator programs to scale and do our part in the fight against the global pandemic. We are all in this together!

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