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Choosing between healthcare software companies? What to know

There's always a learning curve when any industry turns to healthcare software companies, but it's a particularly deep chasm between tech and medicine. Both sides are highly technical, but that's where the similarities stop — different cultures, different languages, and different expectations about the role of software in healthcare.

Success depends on building effective bridges.

If you're on the medical side of the chasm reaching out to the many healthcare software vendors, it can be challenging to know where the conversation should even start. You have to decide what software for healthcare providers should do. You have to figure out whether it's for web or mobile or both, you have to figure out which software vendor can build you the best product, then you have to work with them to make it, and throughout all of that, you have to keep everyone on your side of the canyon in agreement.

(6 steps to take before building software for healthcare providers. Link)

It's not a surprise, then, that so many people faced with designing these types of healthcare solutions just end up dumping a massive list of features into an RFP, sending it out, and hoping for the best. It feels like the safest option but often the worst way to go.

The top healthcare software companies have skills to bring to the table, but you have to let them. Building a great product requires blending your industry expertise with your provider's understanding of design and code. Here's how to find the right partner, then create an environment for true collaboration.

What to watch out for when choosing between healthcare software companies

A good relationship with your software consultant will look much like the ones in medicine. We go to doctors because we trust them, and we also need to tell them the truth about our behavior and give them data. The right healthcare software development company won't jump to conclusions or propose fixes to only parts of the problem. They'll listen to everything and give you a holistic solution.

(Read how we navigate development for the healthcare industry. Link)

You should work to understand what solutions you need healthcare software and healthcare systems to provide. Instead of using those ideas to create a rigid list of requirements, consider them a springboard for conversations with healthcare development firms. If you already know what you need, you'll know enough to evaluate what they're offering. That, plus looking for these best practices for healthcare software companies, will help guide you to the right decision.

Healthcare software developers must step into your world to do their best work — and you, theirs.

It's good to remember that healthcare training is like being an Olympic athlete. You've been swimming in the same ocean for decades. You're living an entirely different life than the developers and designers building your software, and until you find a way to meet in the middle, you can't do effective work.

There's so much complexity hidden in people's stories and experiences. Technologists can't know what you need until they get that context — just like a doctor would never use a medical device manufactured by someone who'd never visited a hospital.

At the beginning of the project, find a way to share context. Invite your healthcare software team to follow you on rounds or in the clinic, and make time to sit with them in their environment too. It's crucial to establish the trust and context you'll need throughout the project. It's also incredibly simple — you just need people to be willing to learn. If a team doesn't visit you in person, don't hire them. And if they don't invite you into their space, don't hire them. The success of your healthcare technology depends on it.

Find someone who can translate between the "healthcare" and "software" parts of the healthcare software industry.

As you're working to tear down that wall, you need to make sure you have someone on your team and someone on your tech partner's team who can translate between the two halves. There are huge differences between healthcare practitioners — who have a disciplined career path and an enormous amount of experience when they start practicing — and designers and developers — who eschew hierarchy and tradition and have had to learn new skills on the fly. Look for someone who can respect your processes and help you plug into theirs.

Language is also a very real barrier, so you want to work with a medical software company with experience. Even if not everyone on your team can understand the doctor's shorthand or the administrator's regulatory pressures, one or two people who can speak to both sides will be invaluable.

When it comes down to it, this is all about the patient — improving their outcomes and quality of life. It can be easy to get caught up in your world of expertise, but finding ways to speak a common language will make the best product and the most significant difference in people's lives.

M&M or retro — make sure your healthcare software company will learn with you

Doctors do morbidity and mortality assessments because it's crucial for them to learn from mistakes and successes and apply those learnings to the next patient. Software is no different. If your healthcare development company works in Agile — and they should — they'll break the project down into sections, then do retrospectives after each piece to learn how to improve the next iteration.

In software, a retro is basically an M&M — a chance to reflect on what worked and didn't work, correct mistakes, and move forward with better knowledge. Make sure your software team is going to learn and improve with you.

Working with a healthcare software company committed to learning and reflecting on their work is crucial for ensuring the success of any software implementation in healthcare. Your healthcare software team must be willing to work collaboratively with healthcare providers and administrators, taking feedback seriously and incorporating it into future versions of the software. Without this approach, the software may fail to meet the unique needs and requirements of a particular healthcare setting, leading to adverse outcomes for both patients and providers. By partnering with a software team committed to learning and improving with you, you’ll have confidence that your software solution will evolve with your needs and continue to support high-quality patient care.

Remove the self, and focus on the outcome.

Healthcare software developers have a significant responsibility in developing tools and technologies that support patient care and outcomes. This is why it's essential for everyone to remove their own biases and personal opinions and focus on the data when designing and implementing these tools. Personal experiences, although valuable, can influence the design and development process, leading to inaccurate and incomplete analyses and potentially harmful outcomes. By relying on objective data, developers can ensure that the tools they create are evidence-based and informed by empirical research, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes. Removing the self can also help ensure that the tools and technologies are accessible and inclusive for all patients, regardless of their background or characteristics.

Are they ready for your future?

Working with a healthcare software company that has experience with significant growth and scale is essential to implement a software solution that can grow alongside you. A company with this type of experience understands the complexities of scaling a software system to meet the needs of a growing healthcare organization and has likely developed processes and procedures to manage the challenges associated with this type of growth. This experience can translate into a software solution that can evolve with the changing needs of your healthcare organization. Plus, a company with expertise in large-scale growth has likely developed strong project management and communication skills, which can be invaluable during the implementation process. By partnering with a software company that has experience with large growth and scale, you can feel confident that their software solution will be robust, scalable, and capable of meeting your needs as you continue to grow and evolve.

Patients come first — always.

We all want to share our stories and experiences, but when it comes to healthcare software, the patient comes first. Working with a healthcare software company that prioritizes the needs and well-being of patients over their ego is crucial for ensuring high-quality patient care. This means recognizing that your software solution is not about you but rather about the patients and providers who will use the system. This mindset can translate into a software solution that is more user-friendly, efficient, and effective at supporting patient care.

Look to work with companies that prioritize patient care; they are more likely to be receptive to feedback and willing to make changes to the software based on the needs of patients and providers. On the other hand, a company that is more concerned with its ego and reputation may be less willing to make changes, even if those changes would significantly impact patients' lives. By partnering with a software company that puts patients first, you can be confident that your software solution is designed with the patient's best interests in mind, leading to improved patient outcomes, better patient satisfaction, and, ultimately, a more successful healthcare organization.

How to collaborate with healthcare software providers

Even after you've found the right software company, that team is only responsible for the technology side of your healthcare application — it's on you to provide the industry expertise. The best healthcare software comes from close collaboration, so prepare yourself and your team to dive in with these four tips.

Acknowledge, then quiet, your inner regulator to design a healthcare software system based on the possible

Regulations in healthcare must be accounted for — but they can't be driving software development, or you'll never get past "no." When starting a software project at TXI, we pick from several discovery activities designed to identify problems and brainstorm solutions. If your inner regulator is on, it'll kill every idea before it can mature. So you have to turn off the critical voice in your own head.

(What to ask before building healthcare software. Link)

If we can brainstorm freely — while still knowing where the regulatory guardrails are — we can create software focused on the solution rather than fixating on what can't happen. Then, once we have a strong idea, we can figure out how to trim it back, if need be, to stay on the right side of regulations.

Okay, so why?

Encouraging creativity and innovation is essential for healthcare software development, as it can lead to developing new and more effective solutions for patient care.

One of the best ways to make this a reality is to break down silos and encourage cross-functional teams to work together on projects. By bringing together individuals with diverse backgrounds and skill sets, companies can promote the exchange of ideas and foster a culture of innovation. Companies should prioritize open and transparent communication, encouraging employees to share their thoughts, ideas, and feedback. By doing so, they're creating an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their opinions and ideas, leading to new ideas that can lead to better outcomes for patients and healthcare providers alike.

Regulations in healthcare software are necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the products. Common regulations include those related to data privacy, security, interoperability, and clinical decision-making. While it is essential to ignore regulations during the ideation phase of software development to allow for creative thinking, it is equally important for developers to understand these regulations to balance their needs with the product's needs. This is because failing to comply with regulations can result in legal and financial penalties, damage to the company's reputation, and most importantly, patient harm. Thus, developers need to be well-versed in these regulations to ensure that they are appropriately integrated into the software design and development process, and that the final product meets all relevant regulatory requirements. By doing so, healthcare software companies can develop products that are not only innovative and effective but also safe and compliant with industry standards.

Get out of the box and lean on your software vendor's non-healthcare expertise

If we're going to get people thinking outside of the box, we need to actually get them out of the box. Shake up the conference room meeting:

  • Get coffee.

  • Go for walks.

  • Stand and place stickies on a wall.

Just switch the environment, so it breaks up the regular thought patterns and encourages creativity.

Similarly, you need to think outside of the healthcare industry. Innovation is everywhere, so figure out how to take a great idea from another market and translate it into yours. Even the most medical-focused software companies should be able to toss out examples from clients that have nothing to do with healthcare at all. It's a great way to seed new ideas.

Schedule healthcare software development like another shift.

The one thing our experience has taught us most consistently — people in healthcare are busy. A meeting will only happen if it's a regular part of the work day. Make sure you and your team set a rhythm and stick with it because one-off meetings will just get delayed in perpetuity.

The other benefit of adding it to your regular work shifts is: Development will feel more like necessary, valuable work than a side project.

Scheduling time to learn about the patient's needs is just as important as finding time to develop solutions as a healthcare software company. Understanding the needs of patients is critical to the success of any healthcare software application. It helps to ensure that the software is tailored to meet the unique needs of patients, making it more effective and valuable. By taking the time to learn about patients' needs, you’ll develop solutions that are user-friendly, efficient, and provide the necessary support to improve patient outcomes. Failure to prioritize patient needs can result in software that is difficult to use, irrelevant, and ineffective. Therefore, you must allocate sufficient time to learn about the patient's needs to develop solutions that meet their specific requirements.

Make room for your healthcare application company to learn about blind spots for software with user testing

There are just so many idiosyncrasies in healthcare, whether it's a filing system or a procedural quirk, or even just differences in bodies that lead to differences in treatment. You'll never be able to account for all the ways people will use your software for healthcare, so make a plan at the start to simulate everyday use. You'll get important feedback about how it's used in real life, in all kinds of different scenarios. Finding and testing those edge cases is the only way you'll really know if you've built something that works in the real world.

An example of this can be seen in the case of an electronic health record (EHR) system. Suppose a software company develops an EHR system without simulating how clinicians will use it in real-world scenarios. In that case, they may fail to account for the unique workflows and procedures that vary across different medical specialties and practices. This can result in a system that is challenging to use and may even create errors in patient care. At TXI, we simulate everyday use and testing edge cases, such as how the EHR system would handle a rare diagnosis or an emergency situation, developers can identify and address potential usability issues before the product is released. This helps to ensure that the EHR system is not only innovative and effective but also practical and user-friendly for healthcare providers, ultimately improving patient care outcomes.

Partnering with a healthcare software provider works best when you plan for the differences

We've all experienced software that just does not do its job. The communication wasn't there, the skills weren't shared, and the resulting product didn't really do anything for anybody. But if you go into a software project knowing that fate is possible, you can avoid it.

How to prep your team to build better software for healthcare (link)

Instead of trying to flatten the differences and find a healthcare software company that looks and sounds exactly like you, seek out a partner that will bring valuable outside experience and opinions, then blend them with your own specific expertise and needs. Then, stay open to that collaboration. It may seem like more work up front, but it's significantly more rewarding than feeling at odds with your tech provider. And most importantly, it's the only way to get a product that truly makes your workday better.

Healthcare software FAQs

What is healthcare software?

Healthcare software has revolutionized the healthcare industry in the USA with the development of cutting-edge technology solutions including artificial intelligence, IoT, and data analytics, to improve efficiency, reduce errors, and enhance patient care. Often cloud-based for easy data management, healthcare software helps providers manage patient information, diagnose and treat illnesses, and communicate with other medical professionals. It also includes mobile apps that enable patients to access their health information, manage their own health and wellness, and receive remote consultations. The healthcare IT ecosystem is rapidly expanding, with startups leveraging technologies such as blockchain to ensure data security and integrity in healthcare management systems.

Why might a company need healthcare software?

A company might need healthcare software for a variety of reasons:

  1. To help automate and streamline administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, managing patient records, and processing medical billing. This can save time and reduce errors, allowing healthcare professionals to focus on providing high-quality care to patients.

  2. To improve communication between medical professionals, making sharing patient information and collaborating on treatment plans easier. Healthcare software can also help with diagnosis and treatment by providing access to medical information and clinical decision-support tools.

  3. To improve patient engagement by allowing patients to access their health information, make appointments, and communicate with their healthcare providers remotely.

Healthcare software can improve efficiency, accuracy, and patient outcomes, making it a valuable tool for healthcare companies.

What are the benefits of healthcare software for providers?

There are numerous benefits for healthcare providers. One of the primary advantages of healthcare software is that it streamlines many administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments and managing patient records. This allows providers to spend more time focusing on patient care rather than paperwork.

Additionally, healthcare software can improve communication and collaboration between healthcare professionals, making it easier to share patient information and work together on treatment plans. It can also provide access to clinical decision support tools, enabling providers to make more informed decisions about patient care.

Healthcare software can help reduce medical errors and improve patient safety by providing accurate and up-to-date medical information as well as improve patient engagement by allowing patients to access their health information, make appointments, and communicate with their healthcare providers remotely.

What are the benefits of healthcare software for patients?

Healthcare software provides numerous benefits for patients. One of the primary advantages of is that it enables patients to access their health information, such as medical records and test results, from anywhere at any time. This can improve patient engagement, as patients can be more involved in their own care and better understand their health conditions.

Additionally, healthcare software can allow patients to schedule appointments, request prescription refills, and communicate with their healthcare providers remotely, which can save time and reduce the need for in-person visits. Healthcare software can provide patients with access to educational resources, such as articles and videos, to help them better understand their health conditions and treatment options. Finally, healthcare software can improve patient safety by reducing medical errors, such as incorrect medication dosages, and by reminding patients to take their medication. Overall, healthcare software can empower patients to take control of their health and improve their health outcomes.

What are the benefits of customized healthcare software versus standardized?

Customized healthcare software has several advantages over standardized software because it can be tailored to meet the specific needs of a healthcare organization. Therefore, it can be designed to address the unique challenges and workflows of the organization, making it more efficient and effective. Customized software can also integrate with existing systems, such as electronic health records (EHR), allowing for seamless data exchange and reducing the need for duplicate data entry. Additionally, customized software can be modified and updated as the organization's needs change, ensuring that it remains relevant and valuable over time.

On the other hand, standardized software may not fully meet the specific needs of an organization and require additional customization or integration efforts to work effectively. However, standardized software can be more cost-effective and easier to implement, as it has already been developed and tested for general use. Ultimately, the decision between customized and standardized healthcare software depends on the specific needs and resources of the healthcare organization.

How can healthcare software revolutionize the way patients receive care?

The healthcare sector is witnessing the growth of digital health technologies that are transforming the industry. The widespread adoption of electronic medical records (EMR) and diagnostic software has revolutionized how healthcare providers collect and analyze medical data. Real-time patient data can be accessed instantly, enabling healthcare providers to diagnose and treat medical conditions more accurately and efficiently. Medical imaging technology is another area where healthcare software is making significant strides. With digital medical imaging software, healthcare providers can view high-quality images of the body, aiding in diagnosing complex medical conditions. The use of patient monitoring software has also enabled healthcare providers to monitor patients remotely, enabling them to intervene early and prevent potential health problems. By using healthcare software, a medical practice can improve patient outcomes, enhance patient engagement and satisfaction, and streamline operations to increase efficiency.

Healthcare software is also revolutionizing the way healthcare systems manage their billing and revenue cycle management. With the help of automation and practice management software such as Allscripts, healthcare providers are streamlining their processes and improving patient care. These systems help manage pricing, referrals, and reimbursements, enabling partnerships between payers, pharmacies, and other providers. Practice management software also helps optimize revenue cycle management, promptly improving cash flow and reimbursing providers. The benefits of healthcare software are far-reaching, and its impact is felt across the entire healthcare industry.

Published by TXI Healthcare in Digital Health

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