Telehealth video conferencing: key factors to consider
Video APIs allow telehealth providers to integrate programmable video, voice, and SMS into their existing platforms.
By Michelle Bonsu
Telehealth appointments accounted for 13-17% of all U.S. patient visits in 2021 and this number is expected to continue to grow. Many businesses want to be a part of this growing market, but designing a telehealth video conferencing solution requires attention to four important factors: quality, user experience (UX), regulatory compliance and pricing. In this guide, we’ll explore these factors and how telehealth providers can build a successful video solution with video APIs.
Your patients may not know the ins-and-outs of your telehealth application, but they’ll immediately notice when your audio and video quality isn’t up to par. In a 2021 telehealth survey, dissatisfied patients listed technical issues among their top concerns. Common technical issues in video conferencing software—including lag, jitter and packet loss—are typically found in out-of-the-box (OOTB) solutions that use a mainly public cloud infrastructure. These issues interrupt calls and are frustrating during business meetings; they’re even more disruptive in healthcare settings where practitioners often communicate sensitive information to patients.
Providers may need to prioritize video over voice quality, especially when dealing with low bandwidth. In other cases, healthcare practitioners may turn to voice calls over face-to-face communication, depending on the appointment type. This is where APIs come in. In contrast to OOTB solutions, APIs are flexible and customizable, enabling providers to build telehealth video conferencing solutions according to their patients’ needs.
However, not all APIs will provide high-quality audio or video. When searching for a software provider, consider partnering with providers that own and operate their Internet Protocol (IP) connectivity. Providers in this category use a private network and can easily troubleshoot connection problems. A private network is also more secure and bypasses congestion on the public internet, resulting in higher quality calls.
2. UX and customization
Another factor to consider when developing telehealth software is UX. Many different end-users—including people with auditory, visual, physical and other disabilities—will use your solution; as such, your platform design must remove and prevent barriers to accessibility.
According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology Educational Book, “universal design principles recognize that systems, services, and technologies should cater to the needs of people and users rather than the other way around.” This especially applies to telehealth platforms. Simple interfaces and alternative tools like closed-captioning address and reduce barriers to telemedicine. Businesses can apply these design principles more effectively with video APIs.
Video APIs, unlike OOTB solutions, give you complete control of your telehealth solution. API flexibility allows you to build features that improve your patient’s experience, such as the ability to configure waiting rooms and offer support for additional participants (like caretakers or interpreters) through video or dial-in options. APIs enable interface customization so you can develop software without unnecessary buttons or features that clog up the screen. Browser-based solutions—which are supported with video APIs—also make it easier to access appointments without having to download an app.
Although these functionalities exist in some OOTB products, they take a one-size-fits-all approach and opportunities to personalize features are often limited. With customizable Video APIs, you only use and pay for the features you need.
3. Regulatory requirements
As with anything healthcare-related, regulatory compliance must be top of mind when building your telehealth platform. HIPAA, short for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is a federal US law that provides guidelines to protect and manage sensitive patient information. Under this law, both health plans and healthcare providers—including telehealth entities that meet this criteria—must be HIPAA-compliant.
In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid temporarily approved 80+ new services as telehealth services expanded in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the rapid expansion of virtual care, telehealth providers must remain cognizant of state and federal regulations, and build software platforms that protect patient information and are compliant with existing laws.
This is easier to accomplish with HIPAA-eligible APIs. A great video API provider also helps you navigate other compliance concerns to ensure your telehealth software adheres to regulations.
Many OOTB video conferencing solutions use a per- user or host pricing model, forcing businesses to pay for licenses for each user. Most patients won’t attend a telehealth appointment every week so this pricing model may not be well-suited for telehealth businesses. An alternative is the pay-as-you-go model. Flexible and commitment-free, this pricing model allows you to only pay for what you use and the features you implement.
Build your telehealth solution with the Telnyx Video API
As virtual care continues to grow, healthcare providers need tools to reduce patient wait times and support care volumes. The Telnyx Video API enables businesses to integrate programmable video, voice, and SMS into their existing platforms. Our industry-leading HIPAA-eligible APIs deliver high-quality communication without compromising security.
From accessibility features to drag-and-drop tools, to pay-as-you-go pricing, the Telnyx Video API offers customizable solutions so you can personalize patient care. Our platform is built on our private IP network, ensuring your video and audio connection remains private, secure and crystal clear.
Ready to build the telehealth solution of your dreams? Get started right away with our developer docs or reach out to a member of our team.