When you’re dealing with healthcare software, it’s essential to work with a partner who understands not only your business goals and needs, but also the intricacies of the industry itself.
The healthcare industry is highly regulated—and for good reason. Patient health and wellbeing is on the line.
Any custom software product you have built for your business needs to comply with healthcare regulations. Therefore, your software development partner must have intimate knowledge of the regulatory environment.
But regulatory knowledge is only one piece of a very intricate puzzle. They also need to be familiar with common healthcare technologies and the integrations they’ll need to include in your custom solution.
They need to know how to secure PHI. They need strong risk management practices. They need to understand interoperability.
The last thing you want is a “finished” project that puts your patients and business at risk.
This article discusses the criteria to consider when choosing a healthcare software development partner.
General Criteria for Choosing a Software Development Partner
Before we get into the specifics of healthcare software, let’s first discuss how to choose a software development company in general.
There are eight important questions to ask your software development partner, regardless of what field your project is in:
- Have you worked on similar projects previously?
- What is the structure of the team, and who does it consist of?
- Who will be my point of contact?
- How will we communicate about the project?
- What does your approach to software development look like?
- Can you estimate a timeline for completion?
- What support will you offer post-delivery?
- Why should I choose your company?
The information you collect with these eight questions should help guide the decision-making process, even if you’re building a specialized project.
Specific Criteria for Healthcare Software Development Partners
Healthcare software development comes with additional needs specific to the healthcare industry. Let’s now consider the criteria for choosing a healthcare software development partner.
Familiar with Health Information Regulations
Perhaps the most important stipulation when choosing a healthcare software development partner is that they have a foundational understanding of the information regulations surrounding healthcare data. You shouldn’t expect your partner to be an expert on everything healthcare-related, but an understanding of PHI is necessary in order to develop a healthcare software project that is HIPAA compliant. Here are the primary requirements in order for software development to be HIPAA compliant:
- HIPAA Rules: Adhere to all aspects of HIPAA rules, which are the Privacy Rule, Security Rule, HITECH, and the Omnibus Rule.
- Security Safeguards: Abide by the administrative, physical, and technical safeguards described in the Security Rule.
- Transport Encryption: All ePHI (electronic health information) must be encrypted before it is transported or shared electronically.
- Backup: Back up all ePHI in case it must be recovered or restored.
- Authorization: Only authorized personnel should be granted access to ePHI, so restrictions must be in place.
- Storage Encryption: ePHI must also be encrypted during storage, not just during transport.
- Integrity: ePHI must not be subject to unauthorized changes, improper destruction, or other prohibited interference.
- Disposal: Once the ePHI is no longer needed, it should be destroyed safely and permanently.
- Business Associate Agreement: Software companies that store or transport PHI must sign business associate agreements with the entities for which they will be working. These agreements must be stored on secure servers.
Has Strong Information Risk Management
With an understanding of PHI and the requirement for HIPAA compliance, your healthcare software development partner must have developed procedures for information security, otherwise known as infosec. Infosec refers to the practice of mitigating information risks in order to protect sensitive electronic information.
PHI is arguably the most sensitive information transported and stored electronically, so it must be protected with top-of-line infosec practices. When choosing a software development partner, be sure to assess their approach to information risk management.
Has Proper Policies and Procedures in Place
In order to achieve a quality end-product, you should ascertain that your healthcare software development partner operates with regulated policies and procedures.
An excellent way to be sure that your partner will be capable of delivering a project that meets your standards, as well as the standards in place regarding PHI, is to ask if the development firm is ISO certified. An ISO certification indicates that the team meets global standards for software development created by experts in the field.
It’s also important that your software development partner meticulously follows secure coding practices, especially when dealing with PHI and the healthcare industry. Secure coding practices require software developers to eliminate security risks at every level of development.
Teams that are committed to implementing secure coding practices don’t simply assess risks for information theft once a project is complete, but they remain constantly vigilant for security risks throughout the entirety of the project.
Software created for the healthcare industry must have interoperable capabilities when it comes to electronic health records (EHR).
Interoperability refers to the electronic sharing of PHI among separate EHR systems and healthcare providers. It enables data and information to be accessed, shared, and used collaboratively so as to optimize health for individuals and the public.
Your healthcare software development partner must understand interoperability and be capable of successfully producing software that is interoperable with EHR systems. What’s more, your software development partner must also understand HL7 standards, which regulate and facilitate interoperability among health information systems. It guarantees that all information maintains consistency across all EHR systems, regardless of whether or not the systems are operated by separate organizations.
FHIR, the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource, is a specific HL7 standard aimed at identifying and regulating patient information. A qualified healthcare software development partner will not only be familiar with these standards for interoperability but be prepared to uphold them.
Experienced in Healthcare Software Development
The best way to ensure that your development partner is capable of meeting the strict and specific needs of healthcare software development is to choose a team that has experience developing projects for the healthcare industry. Healthcare software development demands mature and experienced teams that can mitigate security risks and meet regimented standards.
Ask for a list of healthcare client references. If possible, get a demo of previous healthcare software applications the company has developed. At the very least, talk to a few of their healthcare clients. Not only will this give you an idea of the quality you can expect, but it will tell you what it’s like to work with the development partner.
Taazaa as Your Healthcare Software Development Partner
Taazaa has been trusted to develop multiple projects for the healthcare industry, ranging from electronic medical records system development to telehealth and remote patient monitoring software development.
We understand the standards for safe and successful healthcare software, and we are prepared to fulfill your software development needs.
Get in touch today to learn more about our company and our willingness to create high-quality healthcare software.