According to the Healthcare Cloud Computing Market Report, the global market for healthcare cloud computing will increase to $89 billion by 2027. Meanwhile, Software as a Service (SaaS) is expected to be the most popular cloud model across the industry. So what does it mean for clinics, healthcare practitioners, patients, and businesses that develop healthcare software products?
Healthcare SaaS allows for quick electronic health record (EHR) integration, simplified document management, telehealth features, smooth administration, digital billing, and more. Unsurprisingly, SaaS is all the hype in healthcare these days. So let’s see how SaaS benefits the healthcare industry and how you can develop a perfect healthcare solution to capitalize on the trends and help your clients.
What is the Difference between EHR and EMR Systems in Healthcare?
First and foremost, we must establish the difference between Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Though they might seem precisely the same at first glance, there are fundamental differences between them.
Electronic Medical Record
The EMR is a patient’s digital chart stored by the clinic in a specific database. Physicians can log the information about particular prescriptions, practices, and diseases into the EMR. The core advantages of EMR are:
- Tracking specific medications over time;
- Physicians can set up notifications regarding regular procedures prescribed to patients;
- Doctors can quickly access the results of different tests;
- Doctors can track the efficiency of specific procedures and drugs administered to patients.
One major flaw of the EMR is that it stores information about separate practices and procedures entered by a single doctor. This information cannot be shared with other healthcare practitioners, which makes it inconvenient if the patient switches to another doctor.
Electronic Health Record
Unlike EMR, EHR stores information about a patient and all the patient’s prescriptions, procedures, and practices. The doctors can observe his entire story and share it with other healthcare practitioners involved in the treatment process. The benefits of EHR are:
- Real-time data updates and management;
- Access to advanced decision-making tools;
- Data sharing with involved stakeholders.
EHR does not have the flaws of the EMR while offering expanded functionality. But, of course, there are ways to extend the benefits of the EHR further, thanks to the SaaS integration.
How SaaS Integration Benefits Healthcare EHR
Integrating EHR with the SaaS platform allows healthcare practitioners to quickly access, manage, and share patient data with authorized clinical staff. But, of course, some quick notes or records are not always enough for quality diagnostics, so your platform should be able to handle different types of data, including videos and images.
Health information exchange (HIE) can be precious for medical data transfer between doctors and clinical staff. Having doctors, nurses, paramedics, and all the involved staff on the same page improves the speed and quality of care, making a life and death difference in critical situations.
The introduction of the clinical decision support system (CDSS) can further enhance the quality of care. The CDSS serves analytical purposes by pulling the information from the EHR and suggesting treatment options to doctors and nurses.
With an automated information log, healthcare practitioners will avoid much manual data entry, saving them time to deliver better patient care. Plus, SaaS platforms’ functionality can be accessed from mobile devices, which further benefits the clinical staff, allowing them to enter, transfer, and analyze the information.
The Core Benefits of EHR for Physicians
Reliability. SaaS platform-powered EHR secures the patient data by continuously saving it on the cloud allowing for recovery and backups in case of system failures. Data can be restored to its previous state quickly; losing it is nearly impossible.
Regular updates. The electronic record is updated in response to new data entries. Healthcare staff can even get notifications whenever new data sets are introduced.
Patient history. The entire patient’s history is stored in one place. Physicians can navigate through a lifetime of health records easily.
Prescriptions. Doctors can mark the drugs that should be added or removed from the prescription list. This data can then be sent to the pharmacy and distributed to the patient.
Group management. Doctors can group their patients based on their conditions and needs, manage group treatment, and customize it to the specific needs of the patients. Similarly, doctors can invite other healthcare practitioners to gather insights and ask for advice on a particular patient.
The Challenges of Creating EHR Software
Developing high-quality healthcare software can be especially challenging due to the specifics of the industry. Quality, security, and reliability are especially critical when mistakes can lead to dire consequences. Let’s look at the most common challenges of developing an EHR platform.
Cybersecurity attacks cost billions of dollars to healthcare organizations every year. According to last year’s Healthcare Breach Report, there were 599 detected security breaches in healthcare organizations in 2020, which is 55% more than in 2019. Losing data to hackers can cause huge setbacks for the clinic, as it takes an average of 236 days to recover from the breach. Restoring the data does not just cause financial losses and legal implications; it might also cost vital time for the patients.
Security is the most important thing you must focus on when developing any EHR platform. Developing healthcare software requires profound industry expertise and strict adherence to the standards. That is why you will need a reliable partner who can help you develop such security features as:
- Multi-factor authentication, including password, face ID, fingerprints
- Account log-out after a prolonged inactivity period
- Access level management and control for different staff members
- Encryption of patient data
- Login monitoring and breach detection
- Data backups and recovery
Another essential factor is adherence to international standards and regulations for healthcare software products. We cannot stress this enough: you must be sure your software is fully compliant with such regulations as HIPAA, FFDCA, and other relevant regulations for your region and type of software.
A partner will need to validate your software for compliance and ensure certification support. Any healthcare software management system has to pass specific tests to receive certification. SPsoft can help you with that by running compliance validation to ensure your solution adheres to the industry standards.
Lack of Health-Tech Experience
Migrating your EHR to a SaaS platform means almost entirely transforming and reformatting your existing data sets and applications. This process may take a considerable budget and time, especially if you do not understand the process precisely.
Experience plays a vital role in any organization’s digital transformation, and that is especially true in healthcare organizations. A team of experienced developers who have already developed numerous healthcare software products can drive your project from an idea to an MVP and up to a fully-functional product.
Achieve Tangible Results with a Thorough Healthcare Software Development Lifecycle
Experience in developing healthcare software management systems gives confidence when mapping out the development lifecycle and planning all of its aspects ahead. From ideation to market launch, software development is a complex process, but it does not have to cause you any headache.
A reliable partner with the right expertise and talent can make that complex process much smoother and achieve the desired business outcomes in many predefined steps. Here is how we approach the development of healthcare software products at SPsoft:
The Project Discovery phase is the first and arguably the most critical stage of the entire project. It begins with your ideas and requirements for the project. Our experts would then proceed to analyze your requirements, which would include:
- Establishing the core features
- Assessing the feasibility of the project
- Choosing the right cloud provider
- Studying the audience’s needs
- Product design (UI/UX prototyping)
- Architecture design for cloud platform
- Creation of MVP or prototype
Each step would be somewhat different for each project, as there are no two completely similar projects. However, having a basic outline of the actions we have to take makes the whole process much smoother.
The current standards for SaaS applications are high, and such features as scalability, multi-tenancy, and customization are a must for any modern app. But there are other aspects of product design you need to consider when developing healthcare software products:
- Usability – the interface of your SaaS application must be intuitive and user-friendly. That is critical for ensuring effective product use within a clinical environment where most people do not have a technical background.
- Interoperability – the most important advantage of cloud-based solutions is that they can be accessed from any location and device. It is essential to ensure the flawless performance of your applications on all types of devices that clinical staff may use.
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence – these tech trends have already changed industry verticals, and healthcare is no exception. AI and Machine Learning allow for advanced data analytics, which is already being used for enhanced diagnostics in healthcare.
- Blockchain – security remains one of the major concerns for cloud service users, and blockchain offers nearly impregnable protection from malicious attacks from the outside. Also, blockchain is a kind of a buzzword these days, so you will win a couple of extra points for marketing too.
- Compliance – again, compliance is critical for any healthcare software management system. We plan it and the rest of the essential features ahead to ensure your product is market-ready.
Development and Testing
You can tell that the development process begins during the discovery stage, as it ends with the development of a minimum value product (MVP) or a prototype. MVP is a basic version of your product that contains only the basic features. However, you can already launch it to the market and start to market it to your audiences.
Development, as a separate stage, often includes building over the MVP, adding new features, testing the product’s functionality, making interactions, and patching the problem areas based on the users’ feedback. The development phase would usually include:
- Development, testing, and deployment of new features
- Adding robust security functionality
- Streamlining data flows, synchronization, extraction, and uploading
- Integrating helpdesk and support processes
One of the benefits of SaaS is that you can deploy the product before it is even fully developed and add more features later. So, a market launch can happen after we create an MVP for you. That way, you can already generate some ROI and bring value to your clients sooner.
During the maintenance phase, we will analyze the performance of your healthcare software management system and add iterations to it. This stage usually involves such steps as:
- Disaster recovery and backup testing
- Monitor and fine-tune the performance
- Gather feedback to plan further iterations
The lifecycle of your SaaS continues indefinitely as long as you need and support it. Of course, regular updates and security maintenance are a must if you want to minimize the risks of breakdowns. From that point on, your EHR platform is fully functional.
The SaaS model benefits businesses across industries, and healthcare is no exception. Clinical staff must have a robust cloud infrastructure when dealing with large amounts of health records. With a reliable team of experts, you can create your SaaS platform, distribute it to your audiences, collect their feedback, and imbue it with all the required features.
SPsoft gives you the experience and the talent you would need to develop a cloud-based EHR platform that will benefit your users, improve the quality of care, and save lives.