- Healthcare platforms offer various benefits such as streamlining work processes, consolidating patient information, increasing accessibility through telemedicine options, and promoting self-help tools. Ultimately improving the experience for everyone involved in healthcare.
- In healthcare software development, newcomers face challenges due to strict regulations, including compliance, interoperability, data security, and understanding industry workflows.
- Consider the target audience and purpose of the healthcare software, and prioritize five universally applicable features during development.
What is healthcare software
There are two ways of interpreting this term.
Let’s start with the broader definition. Software for healthcare includes all kinds of web and mobile applications that assist doctors, insurance companies, and patients in delivering medical services. For example, patient portals, telehealth platforms and appointment scheduling systems.
More specifically, medical software is used to track, analyze and interpret a patient’s health data. For example, heartbeat trackers, symptom checkers, or medical image analysis platforms.
Healthcare apps are super popular, chances are you’ve got one installed on your phone right now. Let’s break down two popular examples that almost everyone has heard of.
Apple Health is possibly the most well-known example of a healthcare mobile app for the general public. It helps users track their medical and fitness data by gathering information from iPhone and Apple Watch, as well as other compatible third-party devices.
The app can track the usual metrics like exercise activity, count steps and provide insights into blood oxygen levels. It can also monitor more uncommon things like exposure to loud sounds, and detect walking asymmetry.
Athena One is a platform with a different target audience, more specifically intended only for medical professionals and hospital management.
The main goal of the platform is to ensure that a hospital or a private practice runs smoothly and effectively. This means revenue growth, services provided on time and appointments are kept. Athena One gathers in one place electronic health records (EHR), lab orders, medical billing information, and patient engagement solutions.
How healthcare software improves patient care
Software solutions can improve the experience at all levels of healthcare. Here are just a few examples of what healthcare platforms can do:
- Streamline work processes at hospitals. Healthcare platforms replace piles of physical documents and automate routine tasks for medical professionals. For example, EHRs help service providers update and track patients’ medical histories in real time, as well as have access to prescription records, notes and other health-related information.
- Consolidate all information in one place. Another advantage of EHRs is having all patients’ data in one central source. There is no need to gather up past diagnoses or lab results from multiple departments or sources as all that info is easily accessible in the database.
- Make healthcare more accessible. During the pandemic, not all patients could get to a doctor in person. Even those patients who live in rural areas or are part of vulnerable groups took advantage of telemedicine options such as virtual visits, remote patient monitoring and chatting with online doctors.
- Promote self-help tools. Many fitness and wellness trackers encourage users to reduce health risks by implementing small yet effective habits into everyday life. These include exercise, meditation, mindfulness, standing-up reminders etc.
Challenges for software developers
If you’re going into healthcare software development and have minimal experience with the niche, be careful. Although the healthcare industry has a lot of room for new innovative startups, it is strictly regulated.
Here are the 4 challenges you may face when creating software in the healthcare sector:
📝 HIPAA or GDPR compliance
All medical software should comply with local regulations, depending on the region they operate in. For the United States, the main federal law is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which protects sensitive health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent. On top of that, many states have their own regulations. For example, the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA), requires that all personal health records be private.
In the countries of the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates how apps should store and transfer data, establishing the rights users have. If your healthcare platform processes the data of EU residents, you have to consider the GDPR requirements as well.
🔐 Data privacy
Healthcare software handles sensitive information such as medical diagnosis, prescriptions, billing details and biometrics. Any breach or unauthorized disclosure can cause harm, such as identity theft, discrimination or prescription fraud. To avoid potential legal and reputational consequences, it is essential to think in advance about how you are going to safeguard your databases and servers from attacks.
🙋 Simple user experience
In healthcare software development, UX is crucial. The users of these softwares take their health and wellness seriously. If there is a medical concern, patients need short and simple answers to their questions. Having a software that follows this minimal, simple approach is key here.
⚙️ Specific customization needs
Depending on factors like customer needs and target audience, the platforms can incorporate different sets of features and interface flows. Your software should be adaptable, depending on the user. It should have suitable features and data for doctors, patients or insurance representatives.
4 trends in healthcare software for 2023–24
We put together a list of 4 trending technologies in healthcare software development.
Ever since the pandemic, many doctor visits have moved online. It makes sense that instead of driving for an hour, sitting in traffic and looking for a parking spot, you can just see a doctor from the comfort of your home. This trend will continue to rise in the upcoming years.
2. Machine Learning and AI
The progress in artificial intelligence, AI-powered chatbots and health risks assessment tools are the hottest trends this year. While the ability of AI is still limited and it cannot replace a real doctor, it can help automate many mundane tasks and answer basic questions that patients may have, freeing up the medical staff for other work or reducing staff numbers.
DTx stands for Digital Therapeutics. It is evidence-based software that helps detect, diagnose and treat various diseases. There are, for example, mental health apps on the market that use cognitive behavioral therapy principles to help users manage depression and anxiety disorders. Such platforms incorporate tools like exercise, journaling and mindfulness, that have proven clinical effectiveness in treating patients with depression.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of devices that connect to each other in order to exchange information. In the healthcare industry, this technology can help with monitoring patients remotely. Smartwatches and bracelets can monitor heart rate or blood oxygen level in wearers and automatically send this data to a doctor’s tablet, for example. This way, the medical professional can get real-time information about the patient and call them in for a visit when needed.
The key features to consider during healthcare software development
The set of features will depend on the target audience and the main purpose of the product. Take for instance a teletherapy app, you will need to prioritize video calling functionality, whereas for an appointment scheduling system, you will focus more on appointment calendars and reminders.
We’ve created a list of 5 universally applicable features for any healthcare project.
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Keep it short and simple while remaining legally compliant with information gathering. Including legal name, DOB, country, and state of residency, social security and the health insurance provider.
When it comes to important topics such as health-related issues, users may have a lot of questions and it can be stressful when they cannot find the necessary information. For these reasons, it’s important to think about support your patients through solutions like a chatbot, 24/7 helpline or FAQs.
In healthcare solutions, the dashboard should present necessary health-related information, such as insurance info, upcoming appointments, lab results, and payment due dates in a clear and concise way.
It is. As we’ve already mentioned, medical data is highly sensitive and confidential, and unauthorized access to it can lead to harmful consequences, including identity theft, fraud, and data breaches. To mitigate this risk, as an extra layer of protection for healthcare solutions, platforms often set up additional PINs or enable recognition technologies to access accounts. Extra security such as biometrics or FaceID, for example.
How to develop a healthcare solution
Step 1: Define your audience
Start your software development by deciding who you want to target with your product. First, think about the groups of customers who will use your platform (patients, doctors, insurance companies, hospital administrators). Next you would need to study their needs and behavioral patterns for a smoother UI/UX design.
Step 2: Conduct competitor analysis
Work out what advantages your competitors have and how you can potentially stand out on the market. Information gathered at this stage will be helpful throughout the whole journey, in defining a unique selling point or to create a marketing strategy.
Step 3: Hire developers
The key to successful software development is to find experienced contractors who are aware of potential pitfalls and have solutions for every challenge that might come up. Do your research, review portfolios and verify reviews.
Step 4: Outline key features
Depending on your project idea, target audience and user journey map, certain features that will go to your MVP will be indispensable. You can use our list to help you identify what to work on first.
Step 5: Approve mock-ups
Alongside the development, you will review and approve UI/UX designs for your app. As part of the process, you will need to choose the desired color schemes, fonts, and elements that best correspond with your brand voice.
Step 6: Develop and test MVP
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a fast and cost-efficient solution for testing your business hypothesis. This approach helps us start healthcare development with a limited set of functions, which would be enough for patients to use the app and provide feedback.
Step 7: Analyze the results
After you launch your healthcare MVP and collect feedback from your users, it is time to polish your solution, improve and release the full version. The software development services don’t end here, developers can continue to support you after launch by releasing further updates and fixing bugs as they occur.
Tips for hiring the right team of healthcare software developers
When you’re hiring a software development company, you should pay close attention to these key factors.
Firstly, define your project requirements and look for developers who have the relevant experience in healthcare software development.
Once you have narrowed down a list of teams with similar expertise, check their credentials and certifications to ensure that they have the necessary skills.
Finally, look for developers who understand healthcare compliance regulations like HIPAA or GDPR, specifically those who have experience working with healthcare data.
Do you need help with healthcare development? Purrweb will help you bring your vision to life and test a business hypothesis without excessive costs. Our team of 190+ skilled professionals has plenty of experience in React Native development and user-centered UI/UX design in the medical field.
We have designed and deployed many healthcare platforms. One of our recent projects, Biogeek, is a web app that helps users keep all their laboratory tests in one place and monitor their health. We designed the app with several markets in mind, as the founders had expansion planned from the very beginning.