Interested in building a healthcare SaaS platform?
This is a HUGE market that still has plenty of room for innovation.
Besides the huge profits to be made, innovating in the healthcare industry represents a chance to make a positive impact on society in general.
In this article, I will describe how to build a healthcare SaaS platform.
Steps to build a healthcare SaaS platform
I will elaborate on the steps needed to develop a healthcare SaaS platform for healthcare organizations and healthcare professionals by using a case study published by a project team. It is certainly worth reading the complete case study here.
This project, executed in South Korea, intended to build a healthcare SaaS platform that would deliver healthcare information services at a low cost. It will focus on high clinical value and usability.
The project scope included the following:
- Sharing of ’clinical decision service‘ (CDS) content services;
- Basic order entry system;
- Immunization management;
- Account management;
- Patient information management;
- Scheduling of appointments and admissions;
- Mobile services for multiple platforms;
- An EHR (electronic medical records) system that supports multiple device types.
The platform aimed to create a mobile-enabled cloud-based modular EHR system.
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In summary, the team then analyzed the architecture requirements, and outlined the following:
- Business support services (BSS) – a concept from the telco industry with usage in IT systems for other industries too;
- Operational support services (OSS) – like BSS, originally a concept from telco IT;
- Cloud component for SaaS;
- Quality attributes;
- Data security and privacy requirements;
- Multi-lingual services.
The platform must provide the following interfaces and frameworks:
- A service consumer portal;
- A service development portal;
- A cross-platform framework to implement cloud SaaS.
The team finalized the following quality attributes:
Architectural decision factors that the project team agreed upon included:
- Support multi-tenant SaaS;
- User authentication;
- Support different mobile devices and platforms;
- Cloud computing-based resource sharing should be supported;
- Provide error-handling and ’root cause analysis‘ (RCA) ability;
- Include comprehensive logging and monitoring of system events;
- Stability and ease of use are required.
The project team studied the HIMSS Analytics EMR adoption model before analyzing the requirements of a general university hospital in South Korea with a CDS service (CDSS).
Their design included integration of patient management and order entry with the CDSS. The SaaS CDSS design also included knowledge-authoring tools, a knowledge database, an interface for advanced CDS, and an interface for retrieving knowledge.
To facilitate any hospitals that are not operating suitably compatible IT networks, the design included the integration of basic patient management, appointment management, and order entry.
The team also adopted the Health Level 7 (HL7) Infobutton standard to enable context-aware knowledge retrieval.
In this case study, the project team decided upon Microsoft Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) to develop the proposed healthcare SaaS for the hospital.
It was a comprehensive use of Azure, with the team utilizing the following:
- Platform, framework, and cloud management;
- Software development kit (SDK) for PaaS;
- Virtualization, server, networking, and IaaS storage;
- Azure services, such as:
- BLOB storage,
- Queue storage;
- Table storage,
- Database service;
- Cloud services;
- Visual Studio;
- Traffic manager.
The team used the Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP), and thus catered to mobile platforms such as Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile. They also used the cross-platform mobile development framework MonoCross.
For the security aspects, the team consulted the governmental security and privacy regulations and reviewed the types of current security threats to cloud computing. The main security requirements they zeroed in on to secure essential healthcare data are the following:
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- Access control;
- Data encryption;
- Other common areas such as patch management, vulnerability diagnosis, etc.
A layered architecture was designed for the SaaS platform, consisting one each of the following:
- Data source;
- Data layer;
- Business layer;
- Service layer;
- Business process layer;
- Presentation layer.
The architectural composition was the following:
- The cloud service consumer, i.e. the hospital;
- A cloud service provider;
- A cloud service creator;
There were APIs for the consumers, providers, and developers.
The platform included the following technical services:
- A cross-platform UI framework for mobile apps;
- Cloud computing security services;
- The base framework used for developing business services;
- Business services would be exposed to the web services using a service-oriented architecture (SOA) framework.
The team also categorized the CDSS into rule-based services for medications, alert registration, and knowledge services.
They, thus, designed the cloud configuration as a multi-tenant model with a shared database that included a separate schema for each tenant. This was done to address regulatory constraints in the country prohibiting the storage of EMRs outside the hospital.
In this solution, the hospital would still manage the healthcare data in its own schema. Additionally, a multi-tenant database to manage the tenant IDs for all tables and views was provided.
How do you estimate the cost to build a healthcare SaaS platform?
Cost estimation of a healthcare SaaS development project depends on a number of factors including:
- Targeted functionality;
- Cloud service provider and services involved;
- The location of the development team, i.e. the country they are based in.
Here is an estimate for developing an app with a few key functionalities.
You will need to factor in your requirements to get a more exact figure for your own project. To do this you can consult each cloud service provider’s price charts for their IaaS and PaaS service rates.
- EMR/HER app Requires 4-6 weeks of work.
- Medical workflow automation: 3-4 weeks of development and testing.
- Medicare and Medicaid standards implementation: The most complex, time-consuming, and the most high-value projects, these can take 3-4 months.
- The social component allowing healthcare providers and patients to communicate requires heavy UI design, so estimate upwards of 2 months to complete this.
- Integration with medical devices: This requires a lot of customization due to the variety of devices as well as the wide range of integration that a healthcare organization may need. These projects take a minimum of 2 months.
- Medical mobile apps: Project development length varies quite considerably since there is a wide variety of apps – ranging from fitness apps to drug handbooks. A typical healthcare mobile app may take 4-6 weeks.
Keep in mind that the above estimates were for individual apps. To deliver a healthcare SaaS, you need to have architects in your team to define your cloud architecture and integrate it with your existing systems.
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In addition to your normal IT team, you will also need infrastructure architects and cloud security experts. Their time requirement for the project will vary greatly based on the functionality, or the combination of functionalities, included in the project scope, etc.
Check out the cloud services pricing tables from the major providers:
- Microsoft Azure cloud service pricing;
- Amazon Web Services pricing for the cloud;
- Google Cloud services pricing;
- IBM cloud services pricing.
Note: A project to develop a healthcare SaaS solution is a complex one. Your team should be able to deal with any problem that SaaS development entails. Should you come up against problems your team cant handle, engage the services of a professional cloud application development company. It will save you money in the long run.
Planning to Build a healthcare SaaS Solution?
No doubt, the market for healthcare technology is rapidly growing. Developing healthcare SaaS solutions like healthcare BI software to assist with the efficiency of medical care procedures and help medical professionals is a good call to flourish in the healthcare software market.
However, the project requires highly-skilled professionals with a thorough understanding of medical industry requirements and expertise in the latest software development technologies.
If you do not find such talent in your project team, we would advise you to partner with an experienced software development agency like DevTeam.Space.
You can outsource field-expert software developers from DevTeam.Space according to your project requirements. Send us your initial product specifications via this form and one of our account managers will reach out to you with further help.
Frequently Asked Questions
SaaS stands for Software as a Service. They are cloud-based software applications that can be used by third-party users. A popular example of SaaS solutions is of Microsoft 365 office suite.
There are a huge number of very good cloud-based healthcare solutions that solve a range of problems in the healthcare sector. Examples include OSP Labs and Health Europa, both of which provide a range of digital health solutions including management tools.
Cloud-based solutions tend to be quite complex due to the added need for advanced security features etc. The cost of creating one will vary quite considerably depending on its complexity. Costs would typically start from a few tens of thousands of dollars and upwards.
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