Audio-Only Telehealth: Benefits & Four Use Cases for This Feature on Your Healthcare App
Learn why and how you should integrate audio-only communication capabilities into your Telehealth app.
In today's rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, telehealth app product managers are constantly looking for innovative ways to drive profitability while improving patient outcomes. One way to do this? Audio-only telehealth features.
Audio-only telehealth opens the door to providing equitable healthcare access to individuals in rural or remote areas, those with limited technology, and even patients with disabilities.
From reaching untapped markets to reducing operational costs, audio-only telehealth is a strategic asset that empowers product managers to boost revenue and revolutionize healthcare accessibility and delivery.
Benefits of Offering Audio-Only Telehealth Visits
By incorporating audio-only features into your telehealth apps, you can harness a host of benefits that enhance patient experiences, extend healthcare accessibility, and optimize operational efficiency.
Provides Telehealth Options to People Without a Camera
Not everyone has a smartphone or computer with a camera, which can make standard video-based telehealth inaccessible to some people. Nearly a quarter (24%) of households that make less than $30,000 don't have access to a smartphone and 41% don't have a laptop or computer, according to Pew Research Center. With audio-only capabilities, they don't need access to a computer or smartphone; they can just use their phones.
Increases Access to Healthcare in Remote and Rural Areas
Access to healthcare in remote and rural areas has long been a challenge, with limited medical facilities and long distances to travel. One solution has been telemedicine — 73% of people in rural areas use telemedicine options. And when video isn't available to residents in these areas due to slow internet or other connectivity issues, audio-only options give them more equitable access to healthcare.
Empowers People With Disabilities
Some people have mental or physical disabilities that don't allow them to visit a physical medical office. Some patients may feel insecure or self-conscious about sitting in front of a camera because of their illness. Or they may be blind or visually impaired, and a video call isn't preferable for them. Voice calling functionality allows these folks to seek medical advice and engage with healthcare providers without the need for physical visits. Product managers can play a pivotal role in reaching and serving this population by incorporating audio-only capabilities into their telehealth apps.
Considerations for Audio-Only Telehealth Features
There are three primary considerations product managers can make to create an app that instills confidence in healthcare providers and patients and delivers seamless telehealth calls.
Compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is crucial when developing audio-only telehealth capabilities. Product managers need to ensure that their apps adhere to HIPAA regulations to protect patient privacy and data security and avoid financial penalties and other legal consequences. This includes implementing appropriate safeguards like multi-factor authentication and secure storage for patient information. Adhering to HIPAA allows product managers to mitigate legal risks while fostering trust among healthcare providers and patients who rely on their telehealth services.
Product managers must prioritize the security of audio-only telehealth interactions to protect patient information and maintain confidentiality. To enhance security, consider implementing robust encryption protocols, secure data transmission, and stringent access controls. By safeguarding sensitive data from unauthorized access or breaches, you can build patient trust and avoid reputational damage from data breaches, which can potentially jeopardize the success and viability of the telehealth app.
Ensuring high-quality audio connections is essential for effective telehealth consultations. Product managers should focus on optimizing audio performance, minimizing background noise, and addressing potential issues such as latency or dropped calls. The app should allow patients and providers to easily join the call at the designated time. Implementing robust audio compression algorithms, conducting thorough testing, and leveraging technologies that prioritize audio clarity enhance the overall user experience and the effectiveness of healthcare interactions.
Four Audio-Only Telehealth Use Cases
There are a few different use cases that benefit most from audio-only telehealth functions. Through these use cases, product managers can provide enhanced accessibility, convenience, and quality care for patients across diverse healthcare scenarios.
1. Follow-Up Calls
Audio-only telehealth allows for efficient and convenient follow-up care without the need for in-person visits. Patients can take the call from anywhere and don't have to worry about having access to a camera. After an initial consultation, healthcare providers can conduct follow-up calls with patients to monitor their progress, answer questions, and provide the necessary guidance.
Within a telehealth app, follow-up calls should offer a seamless process for healthcare providers to connect with patients and track their progress. Consider also adding features like appointment scheduling and reminders so it's easy for the patient or provider to follow up.
2. Continuing Care Calls
For patients managing chronic conditions or undergoing long-term treatments, audio-only telehealth offers a means of regular check-ins and ongoing care. Providers can assess symptoms, adjust treatment plans, and address any concerns, ensuring the continuity of care in a way that minimizes the disruption to patients' day-to-day lives.
The app should enable patients and providers to schedule check-ins, assess symptoms, plan treatment adjustments, and address concerns.
3. Mental Health Visits
Audio-only telehealth is well-suited for mental health services, providing a confidential and accessible platform for therapy sessions, counseling, and support. Ninety-three percent of patients who use telehealth for psychiatric appointments feel they can present the same information over the phone as they can at an in-person visit.
Mental health calls or psychiatric calls on a telehealth app should provide a secure and confidential platform for therapy sessions and counseling. The app should include features such as audio waiting rooms or an emergency button that allows patients to seek immediate help in a mental health crisis. These features can foster a more helpful and effective experience.
4. Prescription Management
Audio-only telehealth enables convenient and secure communication between healthcare providers and pharmacists. Sixty-one percent of patients would prefer to use telemedicine for prescription management services. Providers and patients can call pharmacies to discuss prescription details, clarify instructions, and address any medication-related concerns, streamlining the prescription fulfillment process.
Audio-Only Telehealth Features: To Buy or To Build?
When deciding whether to build a custom audio-only feature or opt for pre-existing functionality for your telehealth app, weigh the advantages of each approach based on your specific requirements. For example, if cost is the most important factor for your team, buying this kind of function might be the best option.
However, for those seeking a middle ground, Stream is an effective solution. Stream's voice-calling API is a cost-effective, secure, and scalable option that empowers product managers to incorporate audio-only telehealth capabilities seamlessly into their apps. By leveraging Stream's technology, you can enhance the accessibility and user experience of its telehealth platforms while optimizing costs and maintaining the flexibility to adapt to evolving needs.
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