Healthcare has long embarked on the course of digitalization. But the pandemic has provoked special interest in information technologies and medical applications. Hospitals and clinics have realized that they need IT technologies that will help them to optimize their services under immense pressure. Patients want to be monitored remotely to avoid personal visits to clinics where they can contract the coronavirus from others. Mobile healthcare applications have become a vital necessity. But the fight against the COVID-19 is not the only problem that digital products can solve. In this article, we’ll consider how healthcare software development is transforming the industry.
Problem 1: Patients Need Online Consultations
Traditionally, healthcare consultations are held tête-à-tête. To receive treatment, a patient must visit a doctor personally at the nearest medical center. The elderly, people with disabilities, and residents of remote areas experience difficulties with getting personal appointments. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have been joined by patients in quarantine who don’t want to visit clinics so as not to contract the coronavirus. People need online consultations and remote health monitoring. They want to get professional medical assistance and stay safe at the same time.
Custom telehealth software helps to solve this problem. Software solutions for remote consultations connect a patient with a doctor via video calls and messengers. The system functions on smartphones, smart pads, laptops, and personal computers. Such software is integrated with IoT devices to collect data on blood pressure, blood oxygen level, heart rate, and other vital signs. The doctor assesses these parameters remotely, prescribes treatment, or invites the patient to an appointment for additional tests.
In 2020, the demand for telemedicine services in the US increased by 41% compared to the “pre-Covid” period. Statista assumes that it will remain at the same level in the near future. The number of doctors ready to work in the new format has increased to 69%.
Problem 2: Isolation of Medical Workers
Nowadays, doctors work isolated from each other. They don’t have an opportunity to consult with colleagues, share their knowledge and expertise in the treatment of complicated conditions. A single healthcare platform would facilitate the training of medical staff.
Currently, social networks for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are being created. Their members (students, practicing physicians, and scholars) can do the following:
- get acquainted with the latest innovations and research in the field of medical studies;
- advice each other on the treatment of complex and rare diseases;
- share educational resources, files, and images;
- discuss new methods of treatment, medicines, and equipment.
Communication platforms help to solve health problems faster, share experience, and ensure the inclusiveness of medical services.
Problem 3: Difficulty in Obtaining Medicare and Medicaid
In the United States of America, there are two health insurance systems, Medicare and Medicaid. The rules for receiving insurance payments and the procedures of application processing are significantly different. It means additional responsibilities for doctors: according to the rules, they must store patients’ data in a specific format. A physician must spend time filling out an electronic form that confirms that a patient has received the necessary treatment.
To simplify the workflow and the Medicare and Medicaid application procedures, industry leaders use Electronic Health Records (EHR). EHRs adjust the data to fit the format necessary to obtain insurance, that is why doctors process applications and receive payment for their services much faster. It is much more convenient for health professionals to deal with EHS than plunge into paperwork. A patient may receive treatment even if s/he is currently abroad. By accessing his/her data a doctor can get a proper idea of the patient’s state of health. Thus, they will prescribe the right treatment.
25% of physicians consider EHRs to be the most useful technology for improving patient care. Statista predicts that by 2024 the global EHR market will have reached $40 billion. This is almost double what was in 2015. HubSpot has calculated that thanks to EHR a large hospital will be able to increase revenue by $37-59 million within five years of implementing this technology.
Problem 4: Ineffective Medical Supply Chain Management
We don’t think much about it, but the efficiency of the supply chain management directly affects the regularity and quality of medical services. After all, if the logistics function incorrectly, patients will be left without the medicines they badly need. Manual supply management is ineffective and causes numerous errors. A healthcare facility may order the wrong drugs or not enough medicines by mistake. Medical equipment and medicines can be damaged or get lost on the road, and no one will compensate for the money spent.
Such extravagance can be eradicated by using stock and medical data management software. The platform allows users to control how many medicines and devices are kept in the hospital. It also helps to determine what medicines and equipment should be ordered to help patients at the proper time. Another advantage is the possibility to track the supply and plan the next orders. Such a system provides full visibility of assets, automates manual monitoring, and saves the administrator’s time.
Problem 5: Exponential Growth of Big Data
Healthcare is one of the leaders in data generation. Clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, and laboratories collect vast amounts of information. In 2013, its amount was estimated at 153 exabytes. In 2020, the figure increased by almost 20 times and made up 2,314 exabytes.
Vast amounts of information emerge 27/7, thus, the human brain cannot independently analyze and process the data. The healthcare industry is facing a challenge of its storage, analysis, and usability. Information overload and mismanagement result in bad consequences. Doctors set inaccurate diagnoses, clinics fail to ensure confidentiality of patients’ data, and patients miss visits.
In this case, IT professionals develop cloud and AI healthcare software solutions. Cloud services provide enough space and a decent level of security to store sensitive information and client databases. Smart algorithms help to collect and organize unstructured medical data regardless of the format. They clean the information and ensure its usability for medical staff. As an outcome of this, doctors can quickly set diagnoses and prescribe individual treatment plans.
Problem 6: Inefficient Patient Data Sharing
When a patient gets to a hospital out of his residential area, s/he must request his/her hospital for medical data, such as results of laboratory tests, X-ray reports, medical histories, vaccination lists, and information on allergies. These data help doctors to set an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the correct treatment. But the traditional way of keeping records based on loads of paperwork makes it difficult and time-consuming to share the necessary information.
Health data management, EHR, and other platforms may accelerate medical information exchange while maintaining privacy. Doctors, clinics and hospitals, insurance companies, laboratories, and pharmacies securely share records. A doctor gets access to a medical history regardless of the place and time of healthcare services. Clinics do not waste money on the same tests and analyses. The latest development – blockchain solutions in healthcare software – guarantees increased security and quick transmission of medical data.
Problem 7: Absence of Online Pharmacies
People are accustomed to buying goods online. Thus, they are frustrated with the necessity to buy medicines in the old way. The pharmaceutical industry is subject to certain rules and restrictions that not every organization can violate.
However, there appear pioneers in this niche like Amazon Pharmacy. Perhaps, the whole pharmaceutical industry should combat stereotypes and go online. For example, it is reasonable to deliver medical equipment and medicines with the help of a special application. The innovation will take healthcare software development to the next level. To implement such a project, one needs a web or mobile application integrated with delivery management software.
Hospitals and clinics use custom medical software to respond to the present-day challenges in the industry and make healthcare convenient and affordable. The adoption of new software solutions improves patient care, increases the productivity of employees, and helps to reasonably manage clinical processes.
ORCHA experts suggest that by 2030 medical applications will have become a “must-have” part of clinical practice. Therefore, healthcare software development is not only a matter of time. It is a logical step in the enhancement of a healthcare facility.