How To Develop Healthcare Software

How To Develop Healthcare Software

Healthcare professionals are highly dedicated, often working extra hours to maintain patient wellbeing. While performing these roles, healthcare practitioners rely on a myriad of equipment, tools, and software to supplement their efforts.

This makes software pivotal in the healthcare industry. Creating software for healthcare organizations requires experienced developers, often working closely with a team to streamline patient care and operational efficiency.

Interested in creating healthcare software? In this article, we’ll walk you through the benefits of healthcare software development and how you can build custom software solutions.

Table of contents:

Understanding healthcare software development

Healthcare software solutions are systems, applications, or platforms that complement healthcare stakeholders’ efforts and optimize their patient services. They range from electronic health systems for managing patient medical records to analytical tools that allow professionals to extract valuable insights from data.

However, healthcare software solutions aren’t just limited to patient care. They extend further to facilitating communication and collaboration between healthcare teams. These tools also enable healthcare firms to track key milestones or performance.

Key components of healthcare software development typically include:

  • EHR (electronic health records). EHRs are digital patient records that include information like names, contact details, diagnoses, and medications. Healthcare software development enables the creation of secure platforms for managing medical records, ensuring they are easily accessible by the required parties.
  • EMR (electronic medical records). Unlike EHR, EMR records are typically collected and retained by a single healthcare provider. With this in mind, healthcare software development can offer teams in-house EMR tools for better patient care.
  • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance. All healthcare providers must comply with the HIPAA Act, especially regarding the privacy and safety of information. Failure to do so can lead to hefty fines and other penalties. As a result, healthcare applications must adhere to established standards to keep patient information safe.

The role of software in patient care

While healthcare practitioners rely heavily on hands-on skills and knowledge, numerous software tools are also featured in their workflow, enabling them to deliver quality patient care. Some roles software platforms play in enhancing patient care include:

  • Patient engagement. Telemedicine and telehealth systems facilitate seamless interaction between patients and medical professionals. They enhance health accessibility by allowing patients, even those in remote areas, to consult healthcare experts on diverse issues and receive useful advice without requiring frequent physical healthcare visits.
  • Streamlining workflows. Software facilitates efficient workflows for healthcare professionals by helping automate monotonous and time-consuming tasks. This gives healthcare personnel more time to focus on building relationships with patients.
  • Optimizing treatment plans. Software platforms, especially AI-powered tools, can analyze vast amounts of data and identify patterns and symptoms associated with specific conditions. As a result, these tools can aid healthcare professionals in making diagnoses and developing treatment plans.
  • Patient data management. The healthcare sector generates a lot of data, and this information should be stored securely. Software platforms can clean and store data in the right format. And when the need arises, healthcare professionals can use software to quickly analyze and extract useful insights from data.

Key considerations

The healthcare sector is highly sensitive due to its important role, and healthcare applications must be reliable and scalable to facilitate quality patient experiences. Crucial considerations when engaging in healthcare software development include:

  • Usability. Healthcare software must ensure functionality and user-friendliness for both medical staff and patients. Specifically, healthcare stakeholders should be able to use assigned tools easily to perform their roles. Highly usable software assists in minimizing delays and errors in healthcare workflows.
  • Regulatory compliance. Healthcare is highly regulated—healthcare applications must comply with HIPAA and other healthcare regulations. You must understand the different healthcare standards and policies governing healthcare software development to develop well-rounded products. Risk assessment can also help you understand the different risks your application poses for stricter compliance.
  • Scalability and interoperability. Since the healthcare environment includes numerous components and tools, software apps should be interoperable for seamless integration within a healthcare ecosystem. Healthcare software development should also support fast scalability so it can grow with an organization’s or user’s needs.
  • Security. Healthcare software handles sensitive information, including patient names, contact details, and diagnoses. This means the software requires proper security measures to keep the information safe.

Technologies transforming healthcare

New technologies are revolutionizing the healthcare sector, improving medical research, enhancing patient care, and streamlining numerous processes.

For example, the emergence of AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) in predictive healthcare can lead to positive outcomes. These tools can analyze large datasets, identify symptoms and patterns associated with specific illnesses, and assist medical professionals in making accurate diagnoses. AI-generated insights also facilitate early detection of various diseases and create personalized treatment plans, ultimately leading to positive healthcare outcomes.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable devices are also transforming healthcare, especially within remote patient monitoring. These medical devices can monitor vital signs like blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate, and transmit the information to healthcare providers in real time. This allows healthcare professionals to respond faster to emergencies through continuous monitoring.

Blockchain technology also facilitates more secure and transparent medical data management. Once data is recorded on a blockchain network, it cannot be easily altered or changed, making the feature useful in a healthcare setting where data integrity is crucial.

Integrated fail-safe features prevent unauthorized manipulation of sensitive information. Blockchain also utilizes data encryption, making information unreadable to third parties and protecting patient privacy.

Robot-assisted surgeries are also on the rise. These robots bring greater precision to surgical procedures by minimizing hand tremors and other involuntary movements during delicate procedures. However, more research is still needed to make the robots more efficient and reliable.

Specialized healthcare software solutions

Other healthcare software solutions can address specific needs, from hospital management systems to mobile apps.

  • Practice management and hospital management software. You can create software to help you manage administrative tasks like patient registration, appointment scheduling, billing, and metrics tracking. Such software can also help you manage staff members, clearly assigning roles and responsibilities.
  • Telemedicine software and telehealth applications. These kinds of applications bridge the gap in patient consultations by allowing patients to consult medical professionals online and only make physical appearances when necessary.
  • Healthcare mobile apps. More than 300 million people in the United States have smartphones. Developing mobile apps can enhance healthcare service and treatment plan accessibility while improving patient engagement. For example, you can create mobile apps that allow patients to schedule appointments or track their symptoms.
  • Analytics tools. With so much data generated in healthcare, there’s a need for software applications to help you analyze these datasets and extract valuable insights. Integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning in your applications can allow you to identify more intricate patterns and relationships in the data to facilitate accurate diagnosis, personalized treatment plans, and better decision-making.
  • Remote monitoring tools. You can tap into the Internet of Things and wearable devices and build applications to monitor vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate to facilitate timely intervention.

Development and implementation

Medical software development can be time-consuming, but the results are worth it. Healthcare software development typically follows these steps.

  • Research. It all starts with research to identify needs, goals, and possible pain points in your healthcare operations. Interviewing other healthcare stakeholders can help you gather feedback on desired software solutions and functionalities.
  • Plan. Once you’ve identified pain points, think of how you’ll build the application. This includes identifying features your software will have in order to solve the identified problems. The planning phase also involves outlining the project’s scope, budget, and timeline.
  • Design. Software design lets you determine how different features will integrate to form a working product. You may also define the software architecture, UI (user interface) principles, and data model in this phase. Use design tools like Figma, Canva, and Sketch to create your app’s mockups, wireframes, and prototypes.
  • Develop. Development requires technical skills and knowledge to create working software. Depending on your tech stack, familiarity with different programming languages and database administration is crucial to creating a well-rounded product. If you don’t have the required skills, collaborate with experienced freelancers on Upwork to help with software development.
  • Test. Before pushing an application to production, you must perform rigorous testing so it works as required in different scenarios. Working with software testers on Upwork can help you build a reliable and functional application.
  • Deploy. Once you’ve developed and tested your application, you can deploy it into your production environment. You have to do it as smoothly as possible to minimize service disruption. Notify other stakeholders of the anticipated release to facilitate smoother adoption.
  • Train. You may need to train staff to help them integrate the software into their workflow.
  • Maintain. Though the software may work appropriately, you still have to perform regular maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Develop and push regular updates and patches for consistent performance.

The healthcare software development process requires a blend of technical and soft skills to succeed. While you can work in a silo and still develop good software, it may be best to build a skilled development team that’s focused on healthcare solutions. Having team members allows you to access fresh and creative perspectives, paving the way for quality software.

You can hire team members directly on permanent terms or collaborate with freelancers with diverse skills on platforms like Upwork. Freelancers have flexible rates and are available on short notice, allowing you to start your projects quickly.

Regardless of the hiring option you choose, the right team can meet your specific needs for custom healthcare software development.

Data management and analytics

Lots of data is collected at different points in healthcare, from registration to diagnosis to treatment and checkups. Data analytics software can help you make sense of this information and, ultimately, allow you to improve patient outcomes.

Data analytics assist in the early detection of diseases by enabling health professionals to identify patterns and symptoms of specific conditions quickly. Data analytics also allows healthcare providers to deliver personalized treatment based on the patient’s clinical profile. It’s not just limited to patient care; healthcare management teams can also use data analytics to track performance and key metrics.

For effective data analytics, you must know how to securely manage health information and medical records. Effective data management ensures that only authenticated individuals have access to medical information.

Data encryption can also keep data secure in case of a data leak. You can also adopt role-based access control, assigning team members permission based on their responsibilities.

Best practices for healthcare software development

A lot goes into healthcare software development to build a quality and reliable product. We offer some best practices to help enhance your software development.

  • User-friendly design. As you build your software, focus on providing a high-quality user experience to improve patient outcomes.
  • Adaptability. The technology scene is ever-evolving. As a result, you should be agile to adapt quickly to advancements and innovations in healthtech.
  • Maintain detailed documentation. Documenting all stages of the software development life cycle, including how the product works, is important for future reference.
  • Rigorous testing. After development, don’t rush to release software to production without testing. Everything must work as required before integrating the software into a workplace.
  • Regulatory compliance. Ensure you comply with HIPAA and other regulations at every stage of your healthcare software development process.
  • Choose in-house or outsourced development. Outsourcing brings in specialized talent with fresh perspectives, while in-house development can give you more control over the software. You can also adopt a hybrid approach by bringing in experts to collaborate with in-house teams. Choose your path based on the roles you need to fill.

Challenges and future trends

Healthcare software development can involve many challenges, including  compatibility and interoperability—it can be difficult to build software that’s compatible with old systems.

Resource and budget constraints can also limit your development process, and finding the right talent can take time and effort. Working with a team also makes data safety and resistance to change challenging, which can disrupt the development process.

To address these and other challenges, inform the team about upcoming software products and their benefits in advance. Freelance market platforms like Upwork can be used to find suitable talent at flexible rates. And before you develop, adopt software architecture and models that can support non-traditional healthcare systems.

Embracing emerging technologies like predictive analytics and machine learning can also enhance the software development process. As more training data becomes accessible, AI applications will continue revolutionizing the healthcare sector, streamlining workflows and facilitating positive patient experiences.

Find healthcare software developers on Upwork

Healthcare app development requires technical skills and knowledge, which can take time to master, especially for beginners. Sometimes, it pays to hire seasoned experts offering healthcare software development services. Upwork can connect you with experienced healthcare information technology freelancers to help with your digital transformation journey. Upwork Enterprise connects you with top-tier healthcare information technology freelancers, ready to support your digital transformation initiatives.

If you’re an expert looking for work, start with Upwork, where healthcare IT jobs are posted daily. Sign up today and grow your work portfolio.

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How To Develop Healthcare Software
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