6 Capabilities Every Telehealth Video Streaming Application Needs to Satisfy
by Greg Batenburg, on December 18, 2019
Building a specialized telehealth application with video streaming capabilities can be time-consuming and cost-intensive. The last thing any telehealth developer wants after investing valuable time and resources is to deliver a sub-par streaming experience to their users, so how do you choose the right live video streaming tools the first time around?
A client of ours, Virtual Physical Therapists, spent months researching the right live video streaming tools for their use case. Taking the necessary time to carefully assess their video streaming needs enabled them to choose the optimal solution that best matched each of their key selection criteria. When they released their platform to the public in 2017, their tele-rehabilitation platform's capabilities exceeded their users' expectations and ultimately met all their performance criteria. As a result, the platform quickly expanded to all 52 states, with over 75 physical therapists serving thousands of patients.
Here’s what they considered:
Criteria #1: HIPAA Compliance
Is the video component HIPAA compliant now, and will it remain compliant?
Amongst many things, HIPAA regulations require all patient data to be fully encrypted to ensure data privacy and security. By extending this requirement into the domain of video conferencing, live audio and video transferred across a network should also be encrypted to ensure maximum security. Hiring an external developer to fortify an existing non-compliant live video application can be expensive and maintaining the level of security once the platform is released can add unforeseen costs. Because Virtual Physical Therapists understood the challenges facing their in-house team, they chose a live video streaming product that already offered full video and audio encryption and as a result did not need to worry about this aspect of HIPAA compliance.
Criteria #2: Breaking Changes
When browser vendors (i.e. Chrome, Safari) update their software stack, would my development team need to spend hours adapting and solving bugs?
Browser updates are inevitable. When Google pushes updates to Chrome, or Apple releases a new version of Safari, will your video conferencing application break? It can be costly for your in-house development team to debug client-side code themselves and every second spent fixing bugs is time taken away from developing new features that make your customers happier. Virtual Physical Therapists understood the value of a WebRTC vendor that would proactively monitor these browser vendors' early release channels and update their client-side SDKs ahead of any breaking changes. Because of this, it was important that their preferred choice for a live video streaming SDK came with assurance that any browser vendor software updates would not affect their operations or impact their platform’s up-time.
Criteria #3: Development Support
Would expert support be available when my in-house team needs it?
Incorporating live video components into an application can be complex even for the most talented developer. Developing for legacy systems and cross-platform compatibility is a challenging undertaking for many development teams, so Virtual Physical Therapists decided that the availability of expert support by their WebRTC vendor before, during and after launch was a critical selection criterion. As a result, they leveraged the great minds at Frozen Mountain’s Professional Services team to shorten their development timeline by creating a pilot application that became the core of their iOS, Android, and web browser-based tele-rehabilitation application.
Criteria #4: Video Quality
Can the healthcare professionals on my platform perform accurate evaluations from their devices?
Video quality can make or break any telehealth application. In fact, current criticism(1) about telehealth occasionally revolves around the accuracy of video-based diagnoses. In some cases, patients and doctors have yet to switch to telehealth due to previous poor video conferencing experiences. Knowing the skepticism they faced, Virtual Physical Therapists invested in a video streaming solution capable of providing their users with a superior experience that rivalled the clarity of in-person visits. Their network of professional physical therapists could use the platform’s crystal-clear video and audio to evaluate and assess their patients and provide accurate diagnoses on any device from the comfort of their homes.
Criteria #5: Reliability
How well does the live video SDK support connections under all conditions?
Having a live video feed that can perform under all network conditions is important for telehealth. Patients and therapists may join calls from rural communities, and others may not have the latest flagship phone or fast LTE network to handle high-resolution video. Therefore, Virtual Physical Therapists needed a video connection that would still be accessible to patients and doctors no matter where they live, or what devices they use. Read more.
Criteria #6: Scalability
Can I scale as my telehealth network grows?
Virtual Physical Therapists had scalability in mind long before they launched their application. Scaling their video streaming platform to reach millions of Americans across all 52 states meant choosing a flexible SDK that could enable them to grow. Virtual Physical Therapist chose IceLink to meet their immediate needs, but when they’re ready to scale, LiveSwitch would be there for them, with competitive pricing and capabilities that can unlock new business models for practicing physical therapy in the future. Built with similar APIs, their development team would be familiar with the codebase enabling them to deploy the next generation of their platform quickly and easily.
Choosing the right live video streaming component for your telehealth application is no easy task. Like Virtual Physical Therapists, you may spend months researching your criteria and evaluating live video streaming vendors for capabilities such as HIPAA compliance, breaking change support, video quality/reliability and scalability. Want to get off on the right track developing your telehealth application? We’re here to help - talk to our Professional Services team to see how we can help you build your live video platform right the first time.