What is healthcare software development?
What is medical software development, and how does it differ from typical digital product engineering?
What is healthcare software development & what nuances should not be ignored
Healthcare software development covers a wide range of medical activities aimed at solving specific problems. These issues may be within healthcare organizations, or they may be related to the doctor-patient interaction. The software is just the thing to help address them painlessly. Thus, it can be applications for hospitals, medical equipment, and drug suppliers, patient-physician communication, or drug purchases.
Considering that healthcare is a broad and complex industry, it has many potential pitfalls.
What is it, developing a solution for medical purposes?
Medical software design: a comprehensive look from the inside
Digital health solutions, constituting a diversified ecosystem, allow healthcare providers to deliver better and more efficient services. They have been so successful at this task that the med-oriented software industry has long crossed multi-billion dollar milestones and has no intention of decelerating. Indeed, the healthcare IT market is expected to grow to $95.98 billion between 2020 and 2024 .
Medical digital solutions: what are they?
Medical applications fall into two large groups:
- ERM system
It serves to streamline day-to-day clinical operations and maintain workflows (keeping patients' medical records, scheduling appointments, accounting, and finances).
A customer relationship management system helps increase customer satisfaction and trust (contact management, accurate activity reports, performance analytics).
- Med imaging solution
It is used to design 3d medical images, MRI, X-ray, CT scans, etc.
- Hospital management system (HMS)
Such a system assists in hospital administration: inventory and pharmacy management, physicians' schedules, electronic medical records, etc.
2. Patient- and doctor-oriented
- E-commerce pharma
It is an online marketplace for convenient search and fast medication delivery.
It is designed for remote patient-physician interaction and the respective delivery of medical services, as well as for the interaction of medical professionals with one another to share the necessary information.
Such systems help to promptly provide patients with the needed medication. With this solution, physicians can send prescriptions directly to the pharmacy and control the dosage.
- Appointment booking
Applications serve for remote booking of doctor's appointments, which can take place online or offline.
In addition, there are applications with more specific purposes, such as asthma monitoring, medication monitoring, applications for tracking the general condition of the patient, etc.
Let's say you’ve decided what kind of digital solution you need for your medical business. The main question is what to be prepared for and what are the steps of medical software development.
Additional and no less important steps in med app creation
A typical scheme of digital product development looks like this: first, data collection, then development, and, last but not least, launch.
What extra steps should not be skipped when designing a med-focused solution?
- Requirements research
It is worth highlighting this step as a separate one during the pre-development stage, along with market and user research. If your application violates the requirements, it will not be able to function properly. It is better to double-check the information and clarify which requirements concern your product. Afterward, you can start planning its development on the basis of the identified information.
- Usability testing
This is one of the difficulties specialists encounter during doctor-oriented product creation. The main reason is the lack of a user (i.e. a doctor) who can test the product, oftentimes for the lack of time. As a consequence, stakeholders may completely ignore this step, leading to speedy product delivery and, eventually, a poor outcome.
- Post-launch maintenance
After a product is released, it should be constantly monitored and updated. Along with developers, marketers are also involved in this process. The latter bolsters the brand image and ensures its effective functioning among competitors.
Healthcare app engineering: 3 main specifics to consider
#1 Security first, then all the rest
The security of patient data is paramount. This is especially true with respect to their storage and processing in the online space, where it is vulnerable to attacks and data breaches. Therefore, confidential patient information (address, medical history, financial transactions, etc.) must be protected no matter what solution you design. The type of regulation (HIPAA, GDPR, PIPEDA, DPA, PECR, CCPA, HITECH, etc.) applied depends on the region where the application is used and its functionality. In any case, it is highly recommended to observe the basic rules of data security: password login system, two-factor authentication, data encryption, digital signatures, and other security measures.
#2 UX & UI challenges — a hidden hurdle on the way to an eye-catching solution
Many companies sideline the attractiveness and usability of the app to a second or even third priority, focusing more on regulatory compliance. And they're right. However, design is an equally crucial step, influencing the ongoing product advancement. After all, an appealing design is the first thing that draws users in, followed by usability during the onboarding process.
The intricacy of the sector may pose the following hurdles for designers:
- As aforementioned, physician-oriented apps are hard to test for usability. The main reason is the involvement of a busy clinician, which often requires a significant investment of time.
- UX can also be affected by bureaucratic, legal, and regulatory issues. For example, take a CRM system: the limitations of handling sensitive medical data can be a challenge in creating a user-friendly solution.
- Given the rapid development of digital medicine and the consequent intensified competition, many companies neglect careful usability planning in favor of a quick product release.
#3 Only med-focused specialists can develop a quality product
A regular software company is not enough for clinical app creation.
There are three main reasons for this:
- Having only cursory knowledge, a regular company is not aware of the ins and outs of the medical industry.
- Medical professionals are aware of all the restrictions and regulations regarding obtaining, processing, and storing medical data of a confidential nature (which is important when developing a medical product for online use).
- Regular specialists do not know so well the pain and needs of patients, and even less so the needs of doctors.
You can read more about why a regular software company is not your go-to choice in our guide.
It is better to “hand over the reins” to a software company whose staff has medical knowledge and extensive experience. Brandmed is a fully-equipped team with med-skilled specialists. We can assist you in healthcare product creation from the very initial stages to its maintenance. Contact us, and we'll discuss the details.
- Businesswire, Healthcare IT Market 2020-2024, https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201023005223/en/Healthcare-IT-Market-2020-2024-Need-for-Automation-Across-Departments-to-Boost-Growth-Technavio, [last accessed: 25.11.2022].
- Intellectsoft, Healthcare Software Development: Industry Guide for 2023, https://www.intellectsoft.net/blog/what-is-healthcare-software-development/, [last accessed: 25.11.2022].
- Academia, Mobile Health Application Software Design and Development, https://www.academia.edu/11703984/Mobile_Health_Application_Software_Design_and_Development, [last accessed: 25.11.2022].
- Netguru, Guide To Developing Healthcare Software in 2022, https://www.netguru.com/blog/guide-to-developing-healthcare-software, [last accessed: 25.11.2022].