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Evolving software for transformation

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The current set of healthcare products is designed to improve the healthcare process by providing customised interventions, reducing the cost incurred, and ensuring an integrated and shared patient-centred care, writes 21st Century Informatics Head( Marketing and Partner Sales) Rajmohan Nair 

There is a tremendous leap in the market primarily due to the implementation of various healthcarecentric laws and acts by  institutions and regulatory bodies, advances in technology, and increased awareness among patients and their demand for quality care at low cost. Healthcare providers, hence, have a wide variety of packages to choose from for facilitating healthcare reforms, competing in the market, providing high quality service with low cost of operations, planning for expansion and maintaining efficient control of operations. During the last two decades, a variety of software products have been developed and implemented for healthcare providers. Initially, when electronic records were introduced into the market, their functionality and application value were restricted to the same location (i.e., hospital) they were operational in. Over the years, this restriction has diminished, and the application has evolved into a unified patient-centred EHR system facilitating a seamless inter- and intra-hospital data transfer.

Although the plethora of healthcare ICT products available in the market provides the basis for a collaborative shared patient care, the effectiveness of these products depends on the accuracy with which they fulfil the dynamically evolving needs of the healthcare  industry. These approaches generally encompass all the key processes such as diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, revenue cycle management, administrative function improvisation, policy management and business and clinical analytics.

The challenge

One of the main challenges that affect the need to fulfil the ever-changing requirement scenario is that users are often not satisfied with the products offered and their applications. Survey reports indicate that the dissatisfaction is primarily due to the products’ limiteduser interface and customisation to overcome changing needs. The healthcare ICT industry is becoming aware that the traditional business software approach towards building healthcare software products, which involves a rapid expansion of functionality during implementation and post-implementation stages, is not suitable for the healthcare segment. It has been observed and approved by industry leaders that, especially in the healthcare applications scenario, the key feature of any product is its ‘change’ capability. When organisations are faced with the ‘constant change’ phenomenon due to changes in the business ecosystem, such as organisational, political, economical, statutory, technological and legal, the need for a constantly improvised change request in application software is equally demanding. If these modification requests are addressed by the principal software provider, the biggest disadvantages are huge cost and time, both of which go against the primary requirements of an ideal healthcare product – quick goto- market and low cost. The users of healthcare software packages are demanding a new evolutionary approach in the handling of the product life cycle of healthcare systems. An aging product will not fit the current requirements of the healthcare segment. An evolvable application is hence a prerequisite to satisfy the changing needs of the healthcare industry.

The way forward and call to action

Moving away from a traditional models of software applications, healthcare providers and other stakeholders in the industry must look forward to adopting highly evolvable healthcare applications software that will have the inherent DNA to adapt to ‘constant change’. This approach will make the product suitable for a multi-organisational management, facilitate collaborative workspace, provide flexibility to the users of the system to adapt the system to changing business needs without large customisation costs and empower the users through its learning tools.

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