Developing an app or solution for the healthcare enterprise? Here’s some sage advice.

imageOver the years, I’ve worked with dozens of startups as well as established companies that focus on developing apps and IT solutions for the healthcare industry. I’m always amazed, particularly in the startup world, how naïve developers sometimes are about very basic business principles. A common example is how often bright young developers confuse a great idea with something that can actually be monetized. This is especially true in the healthcare industry where so many good ideas die because they just don’t fit well in clinical workflow, or because they are viewed as so disruptive that clinicians won’t embrace them. Then too, there are the rather unique business and reimbursement models in healthcare that don’t follow the usual rules of supply and demand. It is often very hard to figure out who pays, when and why in healthcare. Add to all of this the unique privacy, security and regulatory mandates in the industry and you have an unruly mix of obstacles, behaviors, and cultures that must be tamed if you hope to develop a sustainable, scalable, mobile app or IT solution for the healthcare industry.

In a recent article in HealthcareITNews, Sherree Geyer explores the status of some mobile apps and other IT solutions in healthcare. While there’s plenty of action in the enterprise healthcare mobile app space, the proof points for many of these apps on scalability, efficacy and safety remain to be seen. Scientific proof is an obstacle that must be overcome for any company developing solutions that touch enterprise healthcare and patients. Proving that what you offer can improve care quality, safety, or lower costs in clinical care settings requires disciplined, and often costly studies. In clinical medicine there just aren’t any shortcuts for this.

So, what’s a developer to do? For starters, pay attention to the rules and be prepared to buckle down and do the hard stuff. If you do, the rewards can be immense.

In the HealthITNews article, Dr. Andrey Ostrovsky, CEO of a company that has developed an app-base care coordination system for the health industry, offers some sage advice to those who purchase health IT apps and solutions for the enterprise. He says such technology should:

  • be evidence-based
  • validate quality improvement claims within six months of deployment;
  • support National Quality Forum Committee measurements;
  • produce positive outcomes for reimbursement;
  • identify risk factors for patients;
  • improve workforce quality and satisfaction;
  • be platform agnostic;
  • adhere to interoperability standards;
  • sustain long-term supports and services and
  • provide technical assistance for baseline capacity.

WP_20150716_12_23_57_ProDevelopers of enterprise health IT apps and solutions would be wise to study this list, because checking off each of these points would go a long way toward insuring the success of the solution you are developing. You can read more on this topic here.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let me share with you that today I am upgrading my corporate and personal computers to Windows 10. As a Windows Insider, I’ve been using early builds of Windows 10 for the past several months. Today, like many of my Microsoft colleagues and millions of others who participated in the Windows Insider program, we are getting access to the final build that most of the rest of the world will see starting July 29th. Let me just say it’s been worth the wait. And since I’m addressing primarily software developers in today’s post, let me add that you are in for a treat. It goes without saying that most enterprise healthcare organizations run on Windows; although granted, healthcare is often a bit slower than other industries on OS upgrades. None-the-less, I expect Windows 10 is just what you developers and health IT professionals have been waiting for. The new OS delivers! Learn more here.

Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft

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