Telehealth Platforms: Build vs Buy

By: Blink Session

Companies looking to stand out in the telehealth, teletherapy, and telemedicine markets often look to build their own platforms, but at what cost? In this article, we will guide you through the aspects and challenges of building a telehealth platform in-house.

Understand What a Telehealth Platform is

Telehealth software is not an app, it is a service - "Software as a Service" (SaaS). SaaS requires more than an app that you install on your phone or computer. Apps that store data and content on your device run without the need for Internet or servers. SaaS requires an infrastructure of servers that enables content to be accessed and people connected Online. Because those servers must run 24-hours-a-day for SaaS to run, it is called a service. It is also called a service because you are paying for a company to maintain the "service" instead of having to install software on your own servers.

It is vitally important to understand that building a telehealth platform is not like building an app. Instead, you are building a service that must serve people 24-hours-a-day. Your company may have the capacity to build such a service, but the you must factor in the reality that you will never stop building it.

The Building Never Stops

In the past three years there have been 25 updates to Goolge Chrome, over 50 Windows-10 updates, and 3 completely new versions of Mac OS X, plus many more server and other updates. If your in-house telehealth system was developed just three years ago and never updated, there is a strong likelihood it dose not work today, at least on every device that it originally did.

Besides operating system updates, software must constantly adapt to changing needs. Since launching Blink Session 1.5 years ago, we have launched eight major features users depend on every day. A plan to build a telehealth platform must include a budget and time for planned upgrades and additional features. In SaaS there is no such thing as finished.

Who Will Build It?

Today, software developers have access to many tools and back-end services to make development easier. That being said, in order to build a functioning telehealth platform, you will need expertise that most developers do not have. For example, the expertise needed to build your company's public website versus a video conferencing platform are like building a sandbox versus a house.

Finding developers or a development company who can build a quality telehealth platform will be challenging. Such people and companies exists, but the labor of searching for the right team must be considered in your budget and time planning. There are countless abandoned software projects initiated by companies who underestimated the talent and budget they would need to build what they wanted.

What Makes Building Telehealth Harder?

Telehealth software's complexity goes beyond the inherit complexity of SaaS. Your company might have a custom-made system to handle things like work orders, accounting, or human resources and although those systems can be complex with many features, they don't connect people live over the Internet.

Telehealth systems are used in real-time between at least two people on different devices. Nerdy people use the tech term "Interoperability" to refer to this. Interoperability is the ability of different systems, devices, applications or products to connect and communicate in a coordinated way. Your company's accounting system connects with a server when you update data, but telehealth systems must communicate with a several servers, the other persons computer, your webcam, and your mic to make it all work.

Telehealth platforms require continual over-site from competent developers and IT personnel to ensure stability.

Sample Cost Comparison

99% of the time, it will be considerably more to expensive to build a telehealth platform in-house, not to mention the time involved. The 1% of times where it could pay off are: 1) Companies with a considerable number of users (25,000+), 2) Critical need for features not found in other products. Below is an estimate of the cost of building in-house vs. subscribing to a telehealth platform service like Blink Session.

Telehealth Subscription Custom Built
Employee Time to Plan Software Build $0 $5,000 - $25,000
Time to Find Qualified Developers or Company to Outsource to $0 $2,000 - $10,000
Initial Development $0 $200,000 - $500,000
Depending on Features
Software Revisions and Bug Fixes $0 $50,000 - $100,000
Subtotal of Custom Build $257,000 - $635,000
Server and Infrastructure Costs Per Year $0 $8,000 - $80,000
Needed Server and Back-End-Code Updates Per Year $0 $25,000 - $60,000
Needed Front-End Updates Per Year $0 $25,000 - $60,000
Minimal New Features Per Year $0 $25,000 - $100,000
User Support Per Year $0 $10,000 - $100,000
Subtotal of Custom Ongoing Yearly Costs $61,500 - $400,000
TOTAL of CUSTOM BUILD + FIRST YEAR COSTS $318,500 - $1,035,000
(depending on number of users)

Look to White Label

In order to help your company create a brand-seamless experience and stand out in telehealth, at Blink Session we have created a White Label Service. Read more about it and contact us to see how we can help your company succeed offering services online.

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