Healthcare software has helped to streamline and improve the health industry. Already, software has allowed physicians to focus on patient care, rather than time-consuming administrative tasks. Digital health and technological innovation have improved our healthcare records, prescription management and our ability to access care when we need it from healthcare providers.
Our reliance on digital technology will only increase with time, even in the health space. Digital solutions can help us all to better understand our health, and take control of our care. This shift to self-care is already evident thanks to wearable tech and mHealth apps.
Unfortunately, health systems are facing huge challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Improvements in the digital health software development industry, and the growth of specialist healthcare software development services providers, have the potential to ease that strain, and improve processes in the space. There’s also plenty of opportunity for growth as a result of the need for effective new solutions and technological innovation.
Health is likely to always be a growing market. Nations will always need improved health systems, and the digital age has encouraged an influx of new innovations. Demand for better quality care is increasing, as patients expect more from their health providers.
As the industry continues to expand with new tech, there are endless opportunities for digital health software development.
The healthcare sector is looking to make a stronger move towards interoperability. At present, healthcare systems around the world and across the country are disconnected. Interoperability would improve patient care, as the same level of care is available everywhere across the country.
At the moment, the challenge for the healthcare sector is that different hospital groups and healthcare providers have different systems. This is true for both healthcare providers and insurance companies. If a new digital solution wants to integrate with those systems, it's a challenge that stands in the way of the goal of interoperability.
The pandemic has shifted the focus in a lot of industries, and our personal lives. The healthcare sector is no different.
New technologies have taken the forefront in healthcare. Telehealth played a major part at the start of the pandemic. Now, the public seek to take their health into their own hands. Wearables and mHealth have seen an increase in popularity.
For example, the pandemic induced stress and anxiety in many people. Some of these sought the help of meditation or mindfulness apps like or They may not have considered a tool like this before the pandemic.
Healthcare software has taken on a new role since COVID-19. The potential for growth continues as the public address their own health concerns.
Despite the growth potential for the digital healthcare software space, there are natural challenges within the industry. The healthcare industry is highly regulated. As a result, compliance, billing, insurance and other healthcare regulations are particularly important, even for software developers. At the same time, there is a global developer shortage and a dearth of reliable healthcare software development companies. Setting these structural challenges aside, there are also some technical challenges for developers.
Managing payments is one notable challenge for building healthcare software solutions. This is because the payment system for the healthcare industry is complicated. Firstly, not all patients have access to health insurance. Different healthcare providers are in or out of network and different insurance companies have divergent rules about what procedures are covered and what co-pays are. That’s before we even get into caps or limits on care. Finally, the growth of HSA's means patients will want to use their , doctors visits or prescriptions.
As a result, payments in the healthcare industry can get complicated because even simple transactions might need to split the tender between different payment methods.
Not only do we need secure software, but we need systems that know how to allocate and process these payments. The way these payments are allocated will be as diverse as the patient pool itself.
As a result, HSA’s, payments and copays present a challenge for digital healthcare software developers. Software needs to be intuitive, and be built with a firm knowledge of our complex American healthcare system.
When we talk about data, we aren't going to focus on the value of big data and data analytics in health as that's a topic for another day. Instead, we will look at data management and governance. The healthcare sector is one of the most highly regulated in the world and rightly so.
When developing regulatory compliant software solutions, patient data must not only be secure but all the internal protocols must be documented. dictates the appropriate use of private health information of US citizens no matter where they live. So, if you are looking for regulatory compliant software solutions, you need to comply with HIPAA, both as a foreign or as a US company. You can't be sure of the nationality of your users.
We built a HIPAA Compliance Checklist for developers, which you can access here.
Encryptions, access controls, firewalls and other security measures are all key components of compliant healthcare software. Avoiding compliance violations and breaches is critical, to avoid fines and penalties.
However, HIPAA applies to much more mundane aspects of development as well. For example, autocomplete systems and payments systems that store patient payment data or health insurance information.
The majority of today’s software, on computers and smartphones, offer an autocomplete system for personal details. These save the user from having to type out their private information multiple times. While convenient, they present a very real risk for compliance like HIPAA.
Some autocompleted information is classed as . Therefore, it must be protected from inappropriate disclosure or misuse. Healthcare software needs to find the right balance between convenience and compliance.
Most health software will need to connect with healthcare providers or insurers. The software might rely on their information, or need to report back to these organizations. This will depend on the purpose of the software.
For instance, information within an mHealth software innovation may need to be shared with physicians.
As mentioned above, healthcare systems are struggling with interoperability. Patients struggle to get the level of care needed as healthcare systems lack communication.
Microservices is a software architecture that can facilitate interoperability. The development is built in “building blocks.” This allows only the necessary components to be separated from a wider development, depending on requirements. Software can be connected with a health provider, insurer, or other healthcare organizations without the need for an entire project rebuild.
As a result, developers can afford to shop around for employment, and take the best opportunities. The developer job market is volatile, with a lot of job movement.
The current state of the market makes it particularly challenging to maintain staff, and hire new developers. Your software development will struggle to get off the ground without experienced developers. Even if you currently have all of the staff that you need, workplace volatility can create roadblocks.
The amount of developers that are both available, and experienced in digital health, is even lower. This makes in-house digital healthcare development particularly challenging. Just as there is a shortage of developers, there is also a shortage of reliable healthcare software development companies. This is because many that offer healthcare software development services aren't actually experts in the digital health space.
This is why we founded Vertrical. We offer healthcare software development solutions and focus uniquely on the digital health space.
As mentioned before, software developers with expertise in digital health is a tough niche. Experienced developers are hard to find, but it’s even more difficult to find developers that can jump straight into digital health.
The digital health space requires knowledge of compliance and health laws. Developers also ideally need to have experience developing to compliance requirements. For example, data encryption is even more vital in digital health, so developers need a firm understanding of this area.
The combination of the niche requirements of digital health and the developer shortage has given way to the rise of digital health software development agencies. They specialise in digital health. All developers are trained and well-versed in compliance requirements. All projects are based in digital health, providing them with all the experience they need.
Digital health software agencies can help you to get your project off the ground, and maintain progress with high-quality development.
At Vertrical, we have and digital health experts that offer healthcare software development services. They’re ready to get started on your digital healthcare development project. We can build from the ground up, or augment your existing teams. Get in touch with us today for help with your health software needs.