The healthcare system is riddled with heavy patient demand, inconsistent workflow, staffing shortages, and high levels of workforce burnout. The pandemic hastened digital transformation in the industry, with the global telemedicine market for SaaS companies hitting $220.94 billion by 2026. However, the reality is different.
Many healthcare SaaS apps offer no relief, provide zero value, and end up on the shelf. The burning question is — how do you develop a healthcare SaaS application that won't be useless and actually solve the pressing problems our healthcare system faces every day? The truth is that unless the healthcare SaaS solution can be easily integrated into workflows, medical workers find it more trouble than benefit.
Let's take a deep dive into how to build a SaaS healthcare application, with full details of its pros, cons, and best practices.
Perspectives of SaaS healthcare products
In simple terms, healthcare software as a service, or SaaS for short, is a cloud-based software application providing health-related services to hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies over the Internet. This means healthcare services can manage billing, data, and patient records on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis. Here are some perspective areas and best practices to consider while designing and building a healthcare SaaS application.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML), SaaS platforms integrated with AI have self-learning, autonomous, and data parsing features. These allow SaaS products, including healthcare applications, to detect and analyze patterns. Practical scenarios include potential threat detection, voice detection, and customer service chatbot.
Application Programming Interface (API) connections
Healthcare SaaS products without integrations with API connections are smoke and mirrors. It offers seamless integration with existing business systems.
Every healthcare SaaS product should be optimized for mobile. After all, over 80% of the world's population owns a smartphone, and 29 of every 100 mobile phone users have a health-related app on their devices.
Telemedicine, providing easy and accessible healthcare, is the new trend, with projections suggesting a market size of $171.81 billion by 2026. Incorporating EHR SaaS solutions with telemedicine features is a game changer.
Vertical SaaS simply means custom SaaS application for a particular industry, say — healthcare. This is becoming mainstream because less clutter plus personalization always equals more results.
The PaaS model
Unsurprisingly, many healthcare providers are gravitating towards platform-as-a-service (PaaS). This is because it fosters patient retention by allowing health organizations to create custom health apps.
Use of multiple cloud services
Multiple cloud services give room for API interoperability in the healthcare industry. Using multiple cloud providers, healthcare companies can increase their data security and storage.
This is a must-have data generation machine for medical data. Edge computing provides a decentralized form of IT infrastructure that complements cloud computing and helps with data processing, analysis, and storage.
8 benefits of SaaS for a healthcare industry
The advantages of SaaS in healthcare that have transformed it from mysterious to mainstream include the following:
1. Effortless performance and accessibility
Unlike traditional software, SaaS does not require users to install and maintain software on their computers. Instead, doctors and nurses can access the software via a web browser or mobile app. In addition to its speed and performance features, SaaS helps healthcare workers access the app anytime, anywhere in the world.
2. Cost-effective pricing model
Health tech is expensive because of its heavy-duty requirements and government regulations. But, SaaS applications provide cost-effective solutions that even small clinics and healthcare NGOs can afford. This will help medical workers give the best healthcare to every patient instead of traditional technologies with running maintenance and IT costs, which can quickly add up.
3. Real-time data tracking, backup, and management
It only takes a system malfunction or a single mistake by an inexperienced IT staff for onsite data servers to crash. Losing sensitive patient data is a nightmare for every healthcare institution, and this is where SaaS application comes into play. It updates data in real-time, facilitating hitch-free communication. SaaS applications also automatically back up data for long-term use.
4. Secure and highly scalable
Healthcare institutions can easily upgrade or tweak their features using cloud-based SaaS platforms to fit their needs. Plus, it offers advanced security features like encryption, serving as an extra layer of protection for sensitive patient information.
5. Effective collaboration and teamwork
The healthcare industry is constantly under construction, making collaboration a must for optimal patient care. SaaS allows healthcare providers to collaborate and get detailed information about patients.
6. Improved customer service
SaaS fosters clinical settings where patients don't feel neglected and receive quality care at the right time. Keeping patients happy is one of the key benefits of SaaS in the healthcare industry.
7. Compliance with health-related laws
Non-compliance with HIPAA, PIPEDA, PHIPA, or applicable laws gets the ball of sanctions rolling. Most SaaS application development services in the healthcare industry take patient data seriously, protecting hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies from potential security breaches and resultant hefty fines.
8. Easy to deploy with no special hardware
Unlike on-premise software, SaaS is easy to set up and deploy without needing any hardware or IT equipment.
Challenges of adopting SaaS platforms in healthcare to consider
The challenges the SaaS healthcare industry face include the following:
Potential privacy and security concerns
Privacy and security concerns are a massive threat to the healthcare SaaS industry. Patient data is sensitive and must be kept secure at all times. This is why using a generic software developer is a no-no, as they might not know all the ins of how to build a healthcare SaaS application in accordance with all security measures.
Generally, every country has healthcare compliance provisions signed into law. However, the specifics may vary. As such, keeping up with the different laws and adjusting to them when you want to build a healthcare SaaS platform can be a significant headache.
Migration and integration issues
Most healthcare providers already have legacy systems for their day-to-day operations. Migration may be totally off the table because they are used to their already existing system. Integration should be a way to solve this problem, but it comes with its own issues. There are thousands of legacy systems, and integrating every single one of them is almost impossible.
Process of healthcare SaaS application development
Healthcare SaaS application development is not exactly simple. This is especially true for the healthcare industry, where strict laws abound. Plus, it requires a lot of road mapping and technical complexities foreign to even experienced developers.
Before we move on, here's a quick note: no two healthcare SaaS apps are the same. So, this step-by-step guide covers the general process. Your ideas, creativity, and the expertise of your developers will determine what the final product will look like.
Step 1: planning and idea discovery stage
Proper planning precedes every successful SaaS healthcare software development. It's not enough to want an app, and you should thoroughly research the problems healthcare providers face and generate unique ideas on how to solve them.
We recommend taking a hands-on approach — spend time on the grounds of hospitals, shadow doctors and nurses during their shifts, and ask questions about their workflows. Using the information, define your target audience and the aim of your app, and determine the essential aspects. While planning is a stakeholder's headache, it's possible to get an experienced development team on board to get ideas from an IT and business perspective.
Planning goes hand in hand with discovery, a phase where the development team takes the wheel with you as a passenger. It's all about structuring your plans for healthcare software-as-a-service development and preparing the necessary paperwork. Key documents include:
Risk assessment plan — predicts potential risks that may result and ways to avert or minimize them.
Software requirements specification (SRS) — shows the requirements for your healthcare cloud app, reflecting the essential features, technical specs, work scope, project goals, and more.
Feature list — a breakdown list of all the features of your SaaS medical project and time estimates for their execution.
Cost estimate — a detailed budget where every projected expense is accounted for.
Other deliverables at this stage are mockups, roadmaps, and product vision, essentially helping you to optimize your IT team structure.
Step 2: requirement check
Once the product vision is ready, double-check its functionalities and ensure the healthcare industry's legal requirements are met. Also, review the plan to be sure that the healthcare app will be easy to use, cloud-based, secured, authorized, and accessible to every user.
At this stage, it's also important to establish a pricing strategy. There's no hard and fast rule, but we recommend conducting a competitive analysis to determine what strategies they use. Popular pricing models include — subscription-based, pay-as-you-go, freemium, and tiered pricing models.
Step 3: UI/UX design
Web app design is a crucial stage in the healthcare SaaS app development journey. You must ensure that the user interface, user experience, and the app's functionality meet your target audience's needs.
Every successful SaaS in the healthcare industry is easy to navigate, simple to search, has a well-designed user interface, and optimized for both mobile and desktop. You also want to ensure that third-party integrations are possible and that the entire architecture fits the stakeholders' technical conditions.
Step 4: frontend and backend application development and testing
To create a SaaS healthcare app, your dedicated team of developers will collaborate with quality assurance (QA) engineers and designers to build your application's front and back end. The best practice, especially when building SaaS for the healthcare industry, is to develop the app in short cycles called sprints. This way, you can quickly fix arising problems without high costs.
Developers worth their onions know that building the complete application at once will increase the costs for any major modifications. Instead, it's better to start with creating a minimum viable product (MVP) that includes the main features. After launching the MVP, you'll need to collect user feedback, examine it, determine what can be improved, and decide on additional features the app lacks.
Step 5: SaaS product launch and maintenance
Product scaling, release, and support is the final but never-ending stage of building a healthcare SaaS platform. Here you are expected to check that all features are implemented, provide final builds, conduct acceptance testing, and plan future features.
Consider Dworkz as your trusted partner for healthcare SaaS application development
Our dedicated software developers have provided veil-lifting software solutions for healthcare brands for the past decade. We believe that data-driven transformation in healthcare is the wild card many healthcare providers should embrace.
When we create a healthcare SaaS application for you, we'll fine-tune your ideas and bring them to life. Besides choosing the right tech stack, high-efficiency app architecture, and solid cloud vendor, we will work with designers to ensure your app's functional.
We've worked with top healthcare brands like Collective Health, Gali Health, Care in Sync, and Heally, and we understand that the best healthcare SaaS apps are unique and valuable.
Hear what our client have to say about other project we've worked on:
"I was continually surprised how quickly the Dworkz team understood the user flow, made sense of it, and greatly improved the UI/UX. They're excellent listeners, problem solvers, and guides. I'm thrilled with the result and look forward to working with Dworkz on additional projects."
— Allen Noren, CEO at Kantola Training Solutions
Examples of popular SaaS applications in the healthcare industry?
Common SaaS applications include electronic health records (EHR) software, telemedicine software, medical practice management software, clinical decision support software, patient portal software, healthcare analytics software, laboratory information system (LIS) software, and radiology information system (RIS) software.
How does the healthcare SaaS application work?
Healthcare SaaS platforms provide health-related services and platforms via cloud-based apps on the Internet.
Is SaaS in healthcare worth it?
Yes, SaaS in healthcare is worth it because it streamlines healthcare processes, boosts efficiency, and improves patient outcomes.