Improving the quality of health services is an important social issue in any country. A wide range of professionals from different spheres are involved in addressing this issue. Information and technological support for all participants of the medical processes (patients, doctors, authorities) is one of the most effective ways to make medicine more available and enhance people’s quality of life. Therefore, software development for the healthcare industry is among the core competencies of numerous IT firms.
Why Should You Build a Healthcare Software?
The goal of digital media and web technologies in the medical industry is to create a single information space of varying scalability: from a standalone clinical institution to a regional network. Information systems and networks build a reliable connection between patients, medical consultants and healthcare providers, which is handy and beneficial for all the parties.
Benefits for Clinical Specialists
- Elimination of daily routine paperwork
- Easy management of practices using electronic health records
- Enhanced collaboration with colleagues even in spite of the geographical distance
Benefits for Patients
- The ability to make appointments and fill out documents remotely
- Easy communication with personal physicians via secure online channels
- Access to lab results and medical history via digital personal health records
- Additional educational information provided by experts on different issues
Benefits for Health Organizations
- Improved diagnostics due to reliable and comprehensive patient data and easy access to records
- Better coordination of processes because all of the information is stored in one place; availability of communication tools
- Reduced costs due to the automation of numerous tasks
- Enhanced quality of medical services
- Increased patient satisfaction and engagement
These considerable benefits prove that every medical company, large or small, should make healthcare software to succeed in a highly competitive market.
Facts and statistics concerning the medical industry show that there is a great demand for software development in healthcare. According to the report by Zion Market Research, the global mobile health (mHealth) market size, valued at $11.47 billion in 2014, is predicted to reach $102.43 billion by 2022, with a CAGR of 32.5%. This proves that mobile devices and communication technologies have great potential to provide high-quality medical services and increase their availability.
Two diagrams by Statista depict interesting data about the attitude of doctors and patients to digital technology in medicine.
The first diagram shows fantastic growth in the number of physicians who used electronic medical/health record systems from 2001 to 2015.
Percentage of office-based physicians with EMR/EHR systems in the United States from 2001 to 2015
This proves the effectiveness of such systems for the doctor’s work.
Another diagram reflects the experience of adults in using an application to track illness.
Percentage of U.S. adults who would be willing to use an app to track illness and medication as of 2017, by community
The percentage of those who use this type of apps regularly is quite small — 5-6%. But the number of people who are willing to use technologies for health monitoring is impressive and exceeds 60%. This means that patients are eager to engage in the treatment process and are open to innovations. Then all we need is to ramp up the software development for medical devices.
|Read also: Wearable Technology in Healthcare|
Types of Medical Software
Modern clinical establishments are freed from excessive paperwork and can seamlessly manage numerous processes due to the different types of medical software.
This is kind of a customer relationship management (CRM) system for medical practices. The software integrates all clinical and administrative processes and helps users handle them more efficiently. As a result, the practice optimizes workflow, reduces the time and money expenses, and provides better patient care.
The practice management software may include various subcategories such as:
- A scheduling solution (patients can make an online appointment on their own via any mobile device; this simplifies a scheduling process and reduces phone traffic)
- A billing solution (hospitals can automate all payment procedures and insurance claims)
- An ePrescription solution (physicians send prescriptions directly to pharmacies in just a few clicks, saving time and eliminating mistakes that may occur because of unclear handwriting; moreover, the system keeps track of patients records and provision of medicines, providing a better level of protection)
An electronic medical record (EMR) system is a digital alternative to an archive of paper documents. This is one of the most popular healthcare software that simplifies the routine work of physicians with documents. Digital versions of patient histories are portable and easily accessible. A doctor can quickly check and analyze previous patient examinations and laboratory tests and, therefore, provide better diagnosing and treatment. The system can also remind of the due preventive procedures.
An electronic health record (EHR) system is similar to an EMR one, but it is more comprehensive. If data from EMRs can be shared only within one office, EHRs are able to transfer information to other clinical establishments. It is vital in urgent cases when information from a patient health history is needed within a matter of minutes.
Patient Portals and Mobile Apps
Modern patients are eager to be engaged in the treatment process, be more educated and lead a healthy lifestyle.
Specialized software such as patient portals and mobile apps are created to fulfill these desires and make healthcare more accessible and portable.
Patient portals provide various engagement tools:
- Online appointments
- Online consultations
- Online billing
- Educational information
Health mobile apps are divided into different types depending on their functions and target audience. For example, there are women’s health apps, programs that remind users to take pills or control the adherence to rehabilitation plans, apps with meditation manuals, consumption calculators and much more.
Guide to How to Create Medical Software
One size never fits all, and many companies opt to create a custom healthcare software that can be perfectly tailored to their precise needs.
One option is to use any of the open-source platforms, OpenMRS for instance, that enable agile development and customization of out-of-the-box solutions with little programming knowledge.
Another option is to turn to an IT outsourcing company that can build a custom medical software from scratch.
The following algorithm provides the most important steps that should be taken to make a customized healthcare project.
1. Define Your Target Audience
Prior to starting to develop a custom software, you should clearly understand who your potential users are and what is of most importance to them.
An in-depth analysis of the target audience needs and desires will help both the customer and the vendor get a precise vision of the future solution. Therefore, it will be easier to decide on what features should be included and what technologies (virtual reality, cloud computing, IoT, etc.) should be implemented.
When developers establish a strong connection with potential users, they are able to deliver a much better product.
2. Decide on Functional Structure
The structure of software always depends on its functions. As soon as you define what functions your application will perform, you can visualize its structure. Decide on what modules and submodules to create and how to connect them.
3. Design User-Friendly UI/UX
A successful software is impossible without an intuitive interface, as it is the main tool of end users. If this tool is complicated and not logical, users will shy away from it.
To create a consistently easy-to-use solution, software engineers and designers collaborate to build a user interface (UI) and create a user experience (UX) based on end customer expectations.
4. Provide Data Protection
Any type of healthcare software inevitably has to do with critical personal data, and therefore, security assurance must be a priority. Various methods and encryption techniques can be used to provide data protection. Make sure that your vendor is able to develop an app with an appropriate security level.
|Read also: General Data Protection Regulation Impact on Business|
5. Integrate with Other Systems
Integration with the legacy workflow is really important, as numerous documents or services should be kept and seamlessly transferred to the new system. Planning the integration process is a challenge. The migration should be performed in such a way that customers won’t experience delays or down-times.
Solutions either for medical manufacturing or for a healthcare agency are able to add value to business only when they are compatible with other systems.
SaM Solutions’ Experience in the Healthcare Industry
SaM’s team developed a modular desktop software that allowed the customer to manage and streamline physiatrists’ daily operations with patient data and medical history. Further, the customer decided to create a stand-alone mobile application to enhance and facilitate home examinations by the physiatrists. The application was required to increase doctors’ mobility and eliminate the necessity of taking documents with patients’ medical history to their homes. The software allowed them to reduce the document flow and enhance the security of patients’ personal data.
The application was to provide high-quality images, so SaM’s team, together with the customer, decided on native software development, to leverage platform-specific graphics capabilities. Android and iOS were chosen as target platforms.
The mobile version enables the input and editing of patient information. However, it does not store patient data: it requests the desktop application’s database for necessary data and synchronizes with it. The application has the following functionality:
- Allows users to synchronize and edit patient data
- Enables the addition of new medical exams
- Enables the taking of photos of injured body parts, and using system body part images if photos are nondiagnostic
Also, our team developed an add-on extension for occupational therapists that provides a set of functionality that is required for their work specifics. Now, the application is fully developed and available. The customer received the mobile application that meets its business and technical requirements within a reasonable timeframe. Our team is still engaged in the project: we provide ongoing support and develop additional features upon customer request.
Tools & technologies used
|Objective-C, Java, Cocoa Touch, CoreData, ReactiveCocoa, REST, ORM Lite, JSON, AFNetworking, Core Location, Android SDK, Android Studio IDE, Android VMb, uCrop, Retrofit.|
SaM Solutions provides offshore development for companies from different geographical regions and industrial spheres. If you have any questions and want to learn more about our experience, fill the contact form!