LOADING
00

Healthcare software development: 2024 industry overview

Healthcare software development refers to computer programs or applications that support healthcare-related processes, workflows, and functions.

In today’s technology-driven world, the healthcare industry is continuously adopting digital solutions to enhance patient care and optimize operational efficiency. Custom healthcare software development has become increasingly popular among healthcare organizations seeking to automate their processes and provide individualized patient care.

Healthcare software development refers to computer programs or applications that support healthcare-related processes, workflows, and functions. These can include electronic medical records (EMRs), clinical decision support systems, medical billing and coding software, telemedicine platforms, patient portals, healthcare analytics and reporting tools, and more.

Healthcare Software Development Solutions

The term “software” encompasses many different digital tools and systems that aid patients, clinicians, and business leaders. Healthcare companies can leverage custom medical software development or software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions to implement new healthcare software.

Virtual-First Model

Telehealth services have gained significant popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients now prefer virtual healthcare services and expect more of them in the future. Virtual care provides an additional channel for patients to connect with healthcare providers and improves continuity of care, especially when in-person visits are time-consuming and inconvenient to schedule.

Companies that follow a virtual-first model offer a telemedicine software platform with features like custom healthcare software, patient intake, synchronous and asynchronous care team communication, symptom tracking, digital care planning, e-prescribing, educational information, and payment. Several examples of virtual-first care platforms that cater to specific care categories and patient populations include Maven, One Medical, Tia Clinic, hims & hers, Included Health, Neura Health, and Pip Care.

Wearables Patient Monitoring

Wearables and remote patient monitoring tools are designed to measure a patient’s activities such as sleep cycles, physical activity, heart rate, and even electrocardiograms. These tools can send real-time patient data to their healthcare provider, allowing both patients and providers to monitor the patient’s health over an extended period. This can create more opportunities for patient-provider interaction outside traditional hospital settings. Some wearables such as the Apple Watch, Oura Ring, and Fitbit are used primarily for wellness purposes, while others such as Dexcom and Senseonics have a specific medical focus and may fall under the category of Software as Medical Device (SaMD).

Improving Patient Care Experience

Care navigation tools aim to help patients navigate the complex healthcare system by assisting with reimbursement and coverage details, decoding clinical jargon, understanding diagnosis and treatment methods, and improving the care experience through patient advocacy and care coordination. Some examples of care navigation tools include Eden Health and Castlight.

Patient Care Software

Healthcare providers have been slowly transitioning to a multi-channel offering, resulting in many traditional brick-and-mortar providers offering patient portals or “digital front doors” to improve administrative efficiency surrounding patient care. Patient portals offer patients access to doctor’s visit notes, laboratory results, immunization records, scheduling appointments, and the ability to ask follow-up questions to their care team. Most major EMR systems such as Epic, Cerner, and Athenahealth have their patient portals that are used by large hospitals and health systems.

DTx

In recent years, a new class of purely digital therapeutic interventions has emerged with some FDA clearance that allows doctors to prescribe a software application similar to an in-person therapy or medication. Pear Therapeutics has released some of the FDA-cleared digital therapeutics focused on substance use disorders and insomnia.

Healthcare Provider Tools

Healthcare organizations benefit from healthcare software development products that enhance their ability to provide care for patients by streamlining administrative tasks, improving workflow, and complementing human care with analytical functions. Provider-facing tools are necessary to improve the quality of healthcare services provided to patients.

Virtual-first clinics are online medical facilities that utilize software systems to connect clinicians and patients through telehealth appointments. In addition to the patient-facing features, clinicians also have access to a clinician-facing experience which allows them to review patient records and self-reported symptoms, answer questions, send reminders, and manage their schedule. These software systems come equipped with clinical and administrative tools such as EHR, e-prescribing, billing and coding, and more.

CDS Tools

CDS tools offer timely information, reminders, or recommendations to clinicians as they provide care. These tools are built into the Electronic Health Record (EHR) software. The task management tools, such as Dock Health, are specialized software systems that help doctors and nurses manage clinical workflows, ensuring that appropriate tasks are completed for each patient. These systems also enhance communication across disparate care team members, thereby ensuring continuity of care for patients.

The US government passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act in 2009, which required the use of electronic systems to manage patient records. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are a type of software used by clinical teams in almost all care delivery settings. The provider updates the EHR at each visit, and it contains all relevant information for the patient’s care, including demographics, visit notes, diagnosis, treatment, medical history, laboratory results, medications, allergies, and immunization records.

SaMD

Sharing data between EHR vendors and other healthcare software development systems is complex, leading to the emergence of healthcare interoperability solutions. Software as Medical Device (SaMD) is an emerging field that provides support to hardware devices through both clinician and patient-facing interfaces. SaMD applications serve a medical function and are more heavily regulated by the FDA than broader digital health applications. Next-generation medical devices, such as Butterfly, include a software component to help visualize and analyze results, train users on device best practices, and provide virtual care connected to condition management.

Infrastructure Software Tools

Infrastructure software tools are becoming increasingly popular, offering point solutions to support specific areas of care delivery and practice management. Healthcare SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions are often built into broader patient and provider-facing systems. The new marketplace, Elion, categorizes these tools into clinical solutions, healthcare administrative solutions, and data and analytics tools. Clinical solutions include care team management, clinical workflow management, staffing, patient messaging, e-prescriptions, and referral management.

Healthcare administrative solutions include patient intake and scheduling, prior authorization, patient billing, and administrative task management. The data and analytics tools category includes interoperability tools targeting claims and clinical data, patient and practice insights, and provider data quality metrics. Other hospital management software may include features used to manage environmental health and safety (EHS) or systems for storing and accessing clinical guidelines.

Six Stages of Healthcare Software Development

Healthcare software development can vary greatly based on the problem being solved, the scope of the solution, and other factors such as budget and timeline.

At Spectre Technology, we work with teams to identify the best healthcare software development solutions for their specific needs. This can involve designing and developing medical software from scratch, or customizing and integrating existing SaaS infrastructure tools. Before starting any software implementation, Spectre Technology starts with a discovery phase to better understand the product area and align with stakeholders on the best path forward.

During the discovery phase, teams seek to answer several important questions such as, what problem is this digital product meant to solve? Who is the intended audience? What competitors or other solutions exist in the market? What unique value will this product deliver? What set of features are required to deliver this value? What technology architecture best supports the contemplated features? And what implementation strategy makes the most sense given budget and timeline constraints? This phase involves several key players, including Tech Leads, UX Designers, and Product Owners, alongside in-house digital health consultants who provide unique industry knowledge.

Spectre Technology offers two types of discovery engagements: Business and technology strategy discovery, which focuses on answering large questions about product-market fit, and product scoping discovery, which focuses on determining the scope of an initial MVP and the best path to implement it.

Once a clear product vision is established, user experience designers take on the task of designing what the product will look like in practice. Typically, software design starts with low-fidelity wireframes, which are used to demonstrate and test core product flows before investing time in full interface design. Usability testing can take place at the wireframe stage to verify and validate a product concept with real users. Once validated, high-fidelity screen-by-screen designs and a UI component library are assembled to pass off to developers for implementation. Screen designs can also be compiled into a pre-development clickable prototype to test or demonstrate core flows to internal and external stakeholders.

UX/UI design requires a deep understanding of user needs and behaviors, typically drawn from user research. In many healthcare software development applications, patient engagement and positive behavior change are key to success. Leveraging fundamentals from behavioral psychology can help design a product that resonates and leads to long-term patient outcomes.

The Future of Healthcare Software Development

The healthcare industry continuously evolves, with new technologies and trends emerging daily. Here are some of the future trends that will shape the healthcare software development industry:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will play a significant role in healthcare software development, enabling more personalized care and improved patient outcomes.
  • Blockchain technology will be used to improve data security and interoperability in healthcare systems.
  • The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) will continue to grow, with more medical devices and wearables connected to healthcare systems, providing real-time patient data.
  • Virtual and augmented reality will be used to enhance medical training and education, as well as patient care.
  • Cybersecurity will remain a top priority, as the healthcare industry is a prime target for cyberattacks.

Healthcare software development is an essential component in the digital transformation of the healthcare industry. Custom healthcare software development solutions are driving innovation and improving patient care, while also streamlining administrative tasks and optimizing operational efficiency. The future of healthcare software development looks promising, with new technologies and trends emerging that will revolutionize the industry and improve patient outcomes.