It may not be buzzing in the mainstream tech conversations, but the healthcare software industry has long surpassed multi-billion-dollar marks and shows no signs of slowing down.
In just six years, the global market for healthcare information software is projected to grow by almost 30%, jumping from USD 21 billion in 2018 to USD 32 billion by 2024.
Healthcare enterprise software market alone is projected to reach USD 8.2 billion by 2023, more than doubling its value in six years.
While software has been leveraged in healthcare extensively, market opportunity and room for exploration remain vast.
In this post, we explore how software is changing the industry, and offer actionable advice on choosing a healthcare software development company and a CRM system.
What Is Healthcare Software?
You may find the terms “medical” and “healthcare software” used interchangeably at times. The two, however, cover related but different domains.
The FDA defines medical software in relation to medical devices, but considered more broadly, the definition can be extended to include practices as well.
Medical software is used to monitor, analyze and interpret a patient’s medical state, as well as perform a range of other functions to help medical professionals provide the best treatment possible.
Medical and healthcare software solutions are typically developed for simulation and medical training, research, diagnosis, database storage and equipment planning.
Healthcare software can be defined as any software developed for the purposes of the healthcare industry. As such, it encompasses medical solutions.
A more specific definition would differentiate healthcare software from medical, where the former pertains to patient care and experience, and the latter to diagnosis and treatment optimization.
Considered as such, healthcare software solutions are developed to improve patient experience by streamlining communication between hospitals, patients, pharmacies and other healthcare suppliers, digitizing patient record storage, appointment scheduling, prescriptions, drug ordering and delivery, and improving hospital management processes including logistics and CRM.
How Software Has Been Leveraged in Healthcare
Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, or “The Big Four” as they are commonly referred to, are already using their expertise to transform the multi-trillion-dollar health industry in the US.
According to Ernst and Young, Google’s parent company Alphabet has filed 186, Microsoft 73 and Apple 54 patents in Life Sciences, totaling 313 patents between 2013 and 2017!
Google leads the way mainly with AI and big data solutions, leveraging these in all areas of healthcare (in its broad definition) from diagnosis to insurance.
Apple plays at the intersection between software and hardware, developing medical devices and “patient facing products” (Healthcare Weekly).
Though Microsoft has made waves in international media with the heartwarming Project Emma, a medical device developed to stabilize hand tremors in patients with Parkinson’s, its scope in healthcare industry is much wider (and largely on the software side), so much so that they have a dedicated multi-billion dollar Medical, Health and Genomics research facility.
Amazon is also applying its expertise in supply chain logistics to healthcare. The company is also entering partnerships to develop healthcare software and tech solutions and provide their 647,000 workforce and their families with more affordable and transparent healthcare.
The Big Four dominate but don’t hog the field. The market is thriving with smaller players and plenty of room for newcomers.
The more we segment healthcare IT, the more nuanced it becomes with lesser-known, yet powerful vendors, unique and highly specialized solutions and market opportunity.
Examples of Healthcare Software
Virtually all publicly traded software companies have their stakes in the healthcare software market.
Many privately-held companies specialize in healthcare solutions only and have claimed dominion in their own market segments. Their landscape is changing and their dominion is challenged continuously as startups and new solutions enter the scene.
Currently, these are some of the leading, privately held, healthcare software companies:
- Epic Systems claims 28% of the US’ electronic health record (EHR) market. Their eponymous Epic Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system facilitates a broad spectrum of operations from patient care including scheduling and registration, to hospital revenue management systems.
- Cerner Corporation holds 26% of the US’ EHR market. Akin to Epic Systems, Cerner develops an end-to-end healthcare solution from patient engagement to clinical solutions.
- MEDITECH holds 16% of the market. Meditech’s EHR solution is optimized for hospital management including health information management, supply chain, general accounting, human resources planning and more.
Off the Shelf vs. Custom Healthcare Software Development
The advantages of custom software development are many, and some are pretty obvious.
As the name suggests, custom healthcare solutions are tailor-made to the client’s needs and specifications. They are also easily scalable, yield long-term cost savings, are more impervious to security breaches, and the list goes on. These are, therefore, advisable to organizations with unique, highly complex and sensitive requirements.
The disadvantages of developing custom healthcare solutions are just as intuitive; In a nutshell, they take more time, effort and initial investment.
To learn more about the software development process, visit: Software Development Lifecycle: A Complete Checklist.
Off the shelf healthcare software solutions are commercial products developed to cater to the general market needs. They are non- to moderately customizable in terms of function and branding, and require less initial investment.
As such, off the shelf healthcare solutions are best used for more routine and less sensitive operations like scheduling, recording therapy and drug prescriptions, ordering and similar.
Healthcare Software Companies and How to Choose One
It goes without saying that the healthcare industry, especially the medical side of it, leaves no room for mistakes. Profits are the least of your concern when lives are at stake.
Choosing a healthcare software company, be they a vendor or a developer, requires meticulous research. In this case, price falls onto the very end of the equation. Key factors to consider instead are:
- Portfolio: What have they developed and for whom?
- References and Reviews: How would their past and present clients review their work/product? Acknowledge both positive and negative references.
If you are in the market for custom healthcare solutions, be sure to also consider:
- Technology and Domain Knowledge: Gauge the breadth of the development company’s experience and expertise in terms of technologies and domain. Unless your technology stack is firmly decided on, avoid companies with limited tech expertise as they tend to design solutions to fit their preferred stack as opposed to the other way around.
- Communication: Whether near or offshoring, your development partner’s communication skills are crucial to your development process. This goes beyond English proficiency. Try to determine how seriously they deal with communication; Look for structure and commitment. Ask whether they hold communication training for their staff, which channels they use for instant messaging and project management, how they approach meetings, and more.
- Methodology: How would you like to manage your development project? While Agile has become the golden standard in the industry, it may not suit your specific style and preferences. Do some reading, seek consultation and try to determine which methodology would work best for you.
We have put together two lists of carefully screened medical and healthcare software development companies to give your research a head start.
- See the list of top medical software development companies.
- See the list of top healthcare software development companies.
Healthcare CRM Software and How to Choose One
Customer Relationship Management, or CRM system, is a pan-industry software that helps improve communication between organizations and customers/clients.
Healthcare CRM software is tailored to the needs of healthcare organizations. It helps manage their relationships with patients to increase loyalty or attract new clientele, as well as track and improve communication with partnering organizations or suppliers.
The patient-facing side of healthcare CRM is particularly important to the healthcare organizations’ bottom line.
The system can improve patient experience via features like appointment push notifications; It can record past communication and extrapolate patient preferences like branch location and preferred appointment times; Automate and personalize marketing campaigns like sending birthday messages and applying perks; It can also manage referrals by keeping a live database of specialists and facilities, allowing general physicians and other medical professionals to direct their patients to the right people and places efficiently.
To choose the right healthcare CRM, start by assessing your requirements: Is your main objective to improve marketing campaigns to acquire new clients, or to improve patient experience and loyalty?
Try to specify concrete ways in which a CRM system would help your organization. With a well-defined list in hand, conduct research on the available healthcare CRM systems.
Some will tick most of the boxes, others will specialize in a couple of your key areas, but if your requirement is complex, chances are that no commercial CRM system will be able to fully satisfy your needs.
For complex CRM requirements, just like for other complex healthcare solutions, it is worth considering custom development.
Plus, check out our list of top enterprise software companies that can help you develop a CRM system or comprehensive healthcare software that is tailored to your organization’s needs.
Examples of Healthcare CRM
Some of the best-known generalist CRM vendors have created customized healthcare software suites for healthcare organizations.
Besides the popular brands, there is a number of CRM systems that cater exclusively to healthcare organizations’ needs.
These are some of the leading healthcare software and CRM systems:
- Salesforce is a market-leading, general-purpose CRM with a specialized healthcare suite.
- Zendesk is another market leader known for its general-purpose CRM with a specialized healthcare suite.
- NextGen Population Health develops a comprehensive healthcare solution and specialized healthcare CRM.
- Veeva Medical CRM is created for medical teams to help foster their relationships with all stakeholders.
- hc1 develops a specialized healthcare CRM that uses clinical and business intelligence to optimize patient and supplier experience.
- Veriomed develops a specialized healthcare CRM with analytics integrations for deeper insights and performance optimization.
The health industry is ever-growing and changing by the day. The sheer size and complexity of it provide ample room for exploration and growth where healthcare software development companies and healthcare organizations alike can take the lead. And they both should as their efforts have the power to better or even save the lives of thousands of their users, if not billions of people worldwide.
Do you have an idea that can change people’s lives? Contact us. We will find the perfect development partner to help you make it happen.