To anyone in the healthcare industry, it’s clear why custom software development is important to the transformation that’s occurred over the past ten years.
Healthcare providers have driven some of this transformation themselves.
They have a niche need that prepackaged software can’t meet and hire a custom software development company to bring it to life.
Providers usually want software they’ll use only within their organization or department.
Startups are another driver of change. Like providers, they see a need and create a web or mobile app to fill it.
A startup’s app addresses a challenge that several organizations have.
Regardless of where the idea for the app comes from, the fundamental goals of custom healthcare software development remain the same:
- Save time
- Prevent mistakes
- Improve patient health
As COVID-19 and its variants continue to overwhelm healthcare providers, these three goals have become critically important.
Why Custom Software Development Is Important
Even before the challenges of the pandemic, healthcare providers were being asked to do more with less.
Government mandates designed to increase healthcare quality forced providers to adopt new technologies.
Interoperability standards have pushed health organizations to make their systems work with other organizations’ systems for quickly and securely sharing patient data.
Patient education and engagement standards led to the wide adoption of patient portals.
And financial incentives caused providers to put systems in place for tracking quality care metrics.
While some off-the-shelf solutions meet these needs, many organizations still need custom applications to get them up to speed in these areas.
And then there are the niche needs for which prepacked software isn’t available.
For example, a provider might need a software application that can capture and analyze a patient’s physical and psychological performance to help them recover after a head injury.
Or maybe they need an app to help them easily monitor medication progress.
Although they are particular needs that won’t apply to the majority of providers, they are no less critical to the affected providers.
A major software company would not be inclined to develop applications with such a small market value. These kinds of specific needs require tailormade software.
But solving a niche problem isn’t the only benefit of custom healthcare software development.
The Benefits of Custom Software Development
The most significant benefit of custom healthcare software development is making the job easier for healthcare workers.
Specifically, custom software helps doctors, nurses, and clinical staff save time and effort, avoid potentially dangerous mistakes, and improve the care they provide.
Save Time and Effort
There aren’t enough hours in the day for healthcare workers to do all that they do. And manual, paper-based systems waste an enormous amount of their valuable time.
Many healthcare organizations turn to custom software to automate their manual systems. It helps eliminate physical paperwork and promotes the portability of patient data.
More importantly, healthcare workers can find a patient’s information in seconds.
Imagine a web or mobile application that integrates with a patient’s existing electronic medical records. It would enable a doctor to see the patient’s health history and current prescriptions, identify potential gaps in care, and obtain prior authorization before the patient leaves the exam room.
This same custom software could also give healthcare workers access to critical patient data on the fly. In an urgent situation, this kind of access can drastically improve a health outcome.
Automating healthcare processes with custom software helps prevent medical mistakes, as well.
A misread doctor’s order can have severe negative impacts on patient health. For example, missing an allergy or a contraindicated medication can make a patient very sick—or worse.
Health organizations have significantly reduced the incidence of human error with custom software. These organizations have nearly eliminated the prescription pad by creating applications for inputting prescriptions, doctors’ orders, and other critical patient information.
Improve Patient Health
Saving time and preventing mistakes feed into the overarching reason providers rely on custom healthcare software development: improving their patients’ health.
Custom health applications help providers better serve their patients’ unique needs. Sometimes, these needs are too rare for a commercial software solution to be viable, as mentioned above.
In other situations, it’s simply that no one thought about creating a software solution. Or they had the idea but not the technical knowledge to build the application themselves.
Custom software helps mobile health clinics better serve decentralized patient populations. It also provides a safety net for at-risk individuals living at home.
While these and other custom solutions don’t serve a large number of patients, the software has vastly improved the health of the patients it does help and makes it easier for their doctors to deliver better care.
Custom Software Improves Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is the most pressing technology issue facing health organizations in the new year, according to the ECRI Institute.
Relentless cyberattacks and ransomware put financial pressure on hospitals and health systems.
Commercial software packages are a favorite target for criminals because they can breach every health system using the software.
Custom healthcare software offers providers increased protection in two ways.
First, the provider and the software developer can tailor the security measures to the provider’s needs. Often, the developer can offer technology insights and best practices to ensure the highest level of data security.
Standard security measures involve multi-factor authentication, anti-spam protection, and strong firewalls. Cloud computing is also a reliable way to store sensitive data.
Second, the uniqueness of the custom solution itself provides a measure of security.
Criminals want the biggest bang for their buck. Faced with a choice between hacking a system used by only one provider or one used by dozens of providers, they’re likely to exploit the latter.
Opportunities for Healthcare Providers and Startups
Many organizations already have an idea of how custom software can benefit a niche segment or the healthcare industry at large.
Before getting too far down the custom software development path, compare the idea to what physicians look for in such a solution.
In a 2020 Deloitte study, physicians identified their four biggest digital technology needs:
- Interoperability: Secure and efficient sharing of patient data and integrating patient-generated data care delivery.
- Optimized workflow: Improving routine processes in the clinical practice.
- Intelligent augmentation: Using AI to help predict and diagnose diseases and prevent acute events. Also, doctors expect that machines will soon read and interpret routine medical images.
- Data security and integrity: Beyond cybersecurity, many physicians have questions about safety and security—notably, who is liable when a medical error occurs in connection with using technology to provide care.
When designing a custom healthcare software solution, healthcare providers and startups should keep these needs in mind.