It would be an understatement and oversimplification to say that healthcare is changing. Much like other significant public sectors, healthcare currently experiences a massive transition towards more accessible, personalised and digital medical services. In 2021, innovative medical solutions are literally behind every corner, or as people like to say – for every problem, chances are there is an app for that.
From my experience working in a bespoke software development company focused on designing and implementing medical software solutions, I notice what tremendous impact technology has on healthcare. It’s no secret that healthcare has been one of the fastest-growing and digitally expanding sectors during the pandemic. With digitalisation changing the rules within the industry, more and more businesses seek partnerships with a medical software development company to adapt to the new market demands and incorporate telehealth products or services.
Some of the reasons why you might be looking for an IT vendor are the rising demand for digital healthcare products, e.g. electronic prescriptions, insurance reimbursements, electronic health records (EHRs), as well as integration between existing systems that enhance the patient journey. A simple innovation, e.g. switching to cloud computing, can create a ripple effect for transforming an industry that still relies on faxes and paper files. Adding products, which can operate in the cloud will bring value to the users and also help your company deliver new features.
Without further ado, let’s explore the top 5 tips from professionals when choosing the best medical software development company.
Do They Have Domain Knowledge?
Much like almost every software developer chooses a specialisation (except for full-stack developers), each software development company needs to have a couple of industries that it specialises in. This is called domain knowledge and is indispensable when it comes to making strategic partnerships and positioning as a field expert. Otherwise, it risks losing focus, thought leadership and the trust of potential partners. However, what exactly do we mean by domain knowledge?
Put simply, it refers to the accumulated knowledge and expertise by a company in a particular field. For example, there are drastic differences between developing software for FinTech or the healthcare sector in terms of objectives, law regulations, industry trends, appropriate technologies, etc. Plus, your future software vendors need to exhibit a solid understanding of the legacy systems to achieve seamless integration. This research paper by Yin et al. at Carnegie Mellon University delivers another argument for the importance of domain expertise for data science and data analysis (both relevant trends in healthcare). According to the authors, domain knowledge reveals its value from problem definition to execution and interpretation. Likewise, a software company with strong medical expertise will apply this knowledge throughout the entire software development lifecycle.
Do They Have Relevant Experience?
The next logical quality to look for in a medical software development company is relevant experience. Partially overlapping with the previous point, if a company has the necessary domain knowledge, this is often associated with previous experience from projects the developers have worked on. Make sure your potential vendors can back up their industry expertise by showcasing past projects accomplishments, as this is a crucial validation of their capabilities.
Although online rankings are a trustworthy reference source, once you’ve shortlisted potential candidates, schedule the initial interviews as early as possible to get to know them more personally. Listen to how they talk, what questions they ask, can they help you with product definition, can they relate to previous projects and ask for their opinion on the 2021 health trends. If they know what they do and have the relevant experience, they’ll be able to answer fast and even provide you with vital information that you might have somehow missed.
What’s Their Standpoint on Security?
As a direct consequence of the raging pandemic, most end users switched to web or mobile telehealth services if their medical provider has invested in such. For the most part, having an online platform where you can conveniently access relevant medical information, schedule a doctor’s appointment or file a reimbursement claim seems tempting. However, the Internet offers both convenience and accessibility but also comes with increased risks of privacy breaches, not to mention that medical data is a beloved hacker’s target. Therefore, testing applications and products is another important capability to look for, e.g. experience in making penetration testing and taking the appropriate actions to correct the findings.
Thus, you need to ensure you’ll be working with a medical software development company that is familiar with and can create a custom software solution that complies with all privacy standards. According to the country you’re in, or your future medical software is designed for, there are different health data regulations that you need to adhere to. For example, in the USA, HIPAA is the industry standard and an absolute must for each healthcare software or mHealth app. GDPR is another initiative that aims to protect EU citizens’ personal data, including medical information, and each EU and non-EU- based business offering goods and services as well as monitoring online behaviour needs to be GDPR compliant.
Which Software Development Methodology Do They Use?
Up to this point, we’ve mentioned that besides pure technical knowledge, your safest bet is to find a software development company that can prove its expertise in software development, the healthcare domain and the data protection domain. Once you’ve covered these three aspects and can rely on a strong business team, the next step is to determine the team setup and exact development methodologies. For instance, have you ever wondered what’s the appropriate Juniors: Seniors ratio within a development team? Some experts claim that this is one of the most critical success criteria for a project and that the golden ratio you should aim for is 2:3.
As I was doing my research for this article, I asked my colleague Volen Vashev, who is a Senior Product Owner in a medical software project, to share his insights on ensuring an optimal development process. He admitted that the process would vary depending on the particular project requirements. For example, when the team is building new healthcare software, reworking existing products or integrating between multiple existing products, this will impact the process. In any case, he continues, an agile methodology like Scrum is worth trying in order to deliver benefits early and convince the conservative stakeholders in this industry that there is value in digital transformation.
Author Biography Aleksandrina Vasileva
Aleksandrina is a Content Creator at Dreamix, a custom software development company, and is keen on innovative technological solutions with a positive impact on our world. Her teaching background, mixed with interests in psychology, drives her to share knowledge. She is an avid reader and an enthusiastic blogger, always looking for the next inspiration.