Developing Custom Healthcare SaaS Application: A Complete Guide

healthcare saas software

Key Takeaways

  • Healthcare SaaS market is expected to increase due to the adoption of technology such as AI, API connections, vertical SaaS, DaaS, PaaS, edge computing, and more.
  • Compliance checklist for developing healthcare SaaS applications reviewing contracts, conducting audits, and setting compliance standards: DICOM, GDPR, SNOMED CT, etc.
  • Beta testing is an essential part of developing your healthcare SaaS product and helps you receive valuable feedback from users. It also enables you to determine what’s missing in your SaaS software and improve it.
  • A healthcare SaaS platform costs between $50K and $500K. Additionally, you also need to compute the ongoing expenses and operational costs as a result of cloud usage and SaaS infrastructure maintenance.

Table of Contents:

Technology has evolved exponentially over the last couple of years. However, the healthcare industry is one of the few fields where technological and SaaS (software as a service) solutions haven’t progressed much. The reason for this is obvious: hesitation to adopt new tech.

Most people prefer physically visiting clinics, taking opinions, and consulting face-to-face. But 2019 has changed the game for healthcare SaaS. Startups and healthcare pioneers are rapidly looking into healthcare SaaS application development.

In the recent past, thousands of people took virtual appointments, online consultation grew, and families were not allowed to be next to you even if you were giving birth or going for major surgeries. In fear of the Covid-19 infections, patients preferred to stay within their homes and take virtual health advice which was the beginning of a huge change for the healthcare industry.

To make healthcare accessible during these difficult times, a host of startups and healthcare organizations developed ground-breaking technologies in healthcare software.

Thus, the future healthcare landscape will likely boast the perfect blend of cutting-edge tech, including AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning), blockchain, and more. Healthcare SaaS application development can thus take your healthcare business to new heights.

Read on to learn the current SaaS market, Healthcare SaaS trends, and how you can develop a healthcare SaaS application.

Healthcare SaaS Market Overview

Software-as-a-service continues to grow drastically as the healthcare industry seeks state-of-the-art software to increase versatility and accessibility. Currently, SaaS is dominating the cloud computing world and will continue to expand.

According to top healthcare SaaS trends, by 2022, medical professionals can expect the following growing trends to expand further:

  • Artificial Intelligence: AI (artificial intelligence) and NLP (natural language processing) is prevalent in cloud solutions and will likely develop in the healthcare SaaS world as the healthcare cloud computing market is projected to grow.
  • API Connections: Integration capabilities with existing systems are a must in the healthcare industry; thus, API connections will grow dramatically as healthcare SaaS solutions become more mainstream.
  • Mobile Optimization: Up to 80.69% of the world’s population owns a smartphone, and of those, 23% of mobile phone users have a health-related app on their devices. Thus, healthcare SaaS products need to have excellent functions for mobile users.
  • Telemedicine: Data suggests that the global telemedicine market will be worth $171.81 billion by 2026. Telemedicine has experienced significant growth because of its ability to provide convenient and accessible patient care. Healthcare SaaS solutions such as EHR (electronic health records) software in combination with telemedicine is a vital applications of SaaS in healthcare.
  • Vertical SaaS: Vertical SaaS is expected to grow because of its ability to address customer needs.
  • The PaaS Model: Customer retention remains one of the main focuses for healthcare providers. The PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) model facilitates the ability to create custom apps, making them increasingly popular.
  • DaaS Integration: With healthcare organizations increasingly relying on AI to lessen the burden on medical professionals, the rising surge of healthcare data is likely to witness the rise of Data-as-a-Service in the healthcare industry.
  • Use of Multiple Cloud Services: Multiple cloud services ensure interoperability with APIs, which can then build strong data interoperability in healthcare. Multiple cloud environment is cost-effective and doesn’t need additional expenses for security and scalability.
  • Edge Computing: The rise in healthcare data is estimated to drive the growth of edge computing in healthcare SaaS applications. Edge computing works like a complement to the cloud and helps with data storage, processing, and analysis.

Why Design a Healthcare SaaS Product?

Below, we discuss a few reasons to invest in a SaaS application instead of traditional software:

  • Piracy of cloud-based software can be tricky, but the SaaS platform helps businesses reduce the risk of piracy and increases data security.
  • SaaS products do not require you to invest in heavy hardware infrastructure.
  • Maintaining a centralized platform like SaaS is simpler and more affordable.
  • SaaS applications offer a broader user base and appeal to new users due to their simple accessibility.
  • Offering comprehensive services and updates to consumers is simpler through SaaS products. Thus, you can upscale and boost your revenue with SaaS applications.

Steps to Developing a Healthcare SaaS Software

Here is an in-depth guide to developing a healthcare SaaS application:

1. Analyzing the Market and Competitor Research

Before you develop healthcare SaaS software, you need to conduct intensive market research. It encompasses identifying the latest trends, essential requirements, and your competitors. Keep in mind that the development of a healthcare SaaS application starts with three main kinds of research:

  • Market Research
  • Competitor’s Research
  • Customer Research

These activities help validate your business hypotheses when working to develop a healthcare SaaS application. Without this validation, you won’t be able to prove existing on-market demand for healthcare software development. And if you don’t find validated needs, you’ll waste your funds developing a useless app.

So, avoid jumping the crucial steps and try to answer the following questions:

  • What is the current market size? Does the market demand for a new product?
  • What are the customer’s pain points? Is it validated pain, and what are its current solutions?
  • What are the existing solutions lacking?
  • What does your SaaS platform offer that sets it apart from its competitors? Does it have something better than other software?
  • Is your software’s USP enough to transform user behavior patterns?

2. Creating Software Specifications and Wireframes

Developing a healthcare application is creating specification documents and wireframes that product users will love.

Functional specifications documents aim to inform developers what, how, and why they have to build. It describes exactly how the features of the SaaS platform will solve customers’ pain points outlined during the research stage.

In addition, wireframing helps you define the layout of UI/UX elements of your software before developing a detailed design. Wireframes allow you to make changes without tricky manipulations. On the whole, wireframing will enable you to juggle UI elements, and their placement and judge the layout.

3. Designing for user Interface

Building medical software is complex and tricky.

On the one hand, healthcare SaaS apps aim to serve the patient, making user experience especially important. It has to provide valuable, serious information meaning the app has to look professional.

Then there are the general requirements of a good app: an unobtrusive design, adaptivity, intuitive navigation, and advanced searching features. The app also needs to look up-to-date and account for the latest healthcare trends.

Thus, your SaaS app needs to implement the following UX practices:

  • First impressions matter. So, simplify registration by only asking for the most vital information.
  • Poor onboarding often leads to confusion and canceled memberships. A positive onboarding, on the other hand, engages, teaches users how to complete various tasks, and provides a strong impression.
  • Streamline information architecture and navigation to help users find the information they need.
  • Often, the first thing a user notices when logging in is the dashboard. So, spend time improving the dashboard user experience by answering the following questions for users:
  • What is my current state?
  • What are recent activities?
  • What are the common problems?
  • Where is my ‘To-Do’ list, and what items are on it?
  • How can I begin essential tasks?
  • Modern consumers expect support within seconds without speaking to someone on the phone. Thus, successful SaaS applications should have intuitive help and around-the-clock support systems.

4. Developing the SaaS MVP

Developing a minimum viable product (MVP) for your SaaS project helps you get your idea validated. It’s also helpful for receiving feedback to develop in the right direction.

Here are critical characteristics of MVPs to keep in mind:

  • Provides value to attract your target audience and make them want to purchase your product.
  • Demonstrates the product’s benefit
  • Creates a feedback loop to collect valuable information to improve the current version.

MVP development is a low-risk investment that helps you learn what your audience thinks of your product. In turn, you can tweak your final product to meet their needs best.

5. Match With The HIPAA Compliance Checklist

HIPAA compliance is critical when using any electronic medium to exchange patients’ confidential health care information. Despite this, healthcare institutes fail to comply with HIPAA.

Here we’ve listed the four points you need to remember while ensuring HIPAA compliance:

a. Find Applications that Contain Private Health Information

Most healthcare departments buy or implement new software without consulting their IT department. The majority of the departments in healthcare organizations use SaaS applications that contain electronic-protected health information.

Thus, you must go through each application to ensure that they are HIPAA compliant. This way, you can maintain security and patient data privacy.

b. Review Your Contracts

Before you decide to transfer your system to a SaaS application, read your contracts thoroughly to ensure compliance.

Make sure you sign the HIPAA-compliant Business Associate Agreement responsible for:

  • Setting permitted uses of electronically protected health information
  • Adding permitted disclosures of electronically protected health information
  • Ensuring the security and privacy of confidential health information

c. Set Compliance Standards

For a healthcare SaaS app, you need to set the following standards:

  • GDPR
  • SNOMED CT etc.

These standards are not equal to HIPAA; however, they help:

  • Ensure security
  • Ensure privacy
  • Create enhanced auditing efficiencies

d. Conduct Audits

According to HIPAA rules, audit controls are necessary for:

  • Monitor access attempts to ePHI (Electronic Protected Health Information)
  • Record the usage of information
  • Implement security measures
  • Maintain cybersecurity protection
  • Examine security breaches

6. Test the Beta Version

Beta testing is an essential part of developing your healthcare SaaS product and helps you receive valuable feedback from users. In addition, it enables you to determine what your SaaS is missing and improve your software.

Finding beta testers can be challenging and time-consuming. To save time and energy, follow these steps:

  • Use email to find beta users
  • Join Facebook and Reddit beta testing groups
  • Benefit from Product Hunt, Beta List, and other beta testing sites
  • Write guest posts to increase product visibility
  • Connect with social media influencers

7. Deploy At HIPAA Compliant Servers and Maintenance

After beta testing and tweaking, it’s time to make your app live. Make sure your software is HIPAA compliant before you release it. Your healthcare SaaS software is not fully HIPAA-compliant if it’s also not hosted on HIPAA-compliant servers. Make sure you sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with your HIPAA hosting server.

Conduct scheduled SAAS maintenance to upkeep your website and ensure it’s always up-to-date with the latest HIPAA requirements.

Features of Custom Healthcare SaaS Application

While the features you decide on including when developing a Healthcare SaaS application for your business depend on your unique requirements, here are some features that the SaaS platform needs that would be a value add to custom healthcare software.

1. Focus on the problem to be solved

The healthcare industry is unique since it has several stakeholders who need to be aligned when developing a SaaS solution for healthcare. The development process needs to focus on the pressing problem that the software is intended to solve. For example, if inventory management is the problem that needs to be solved, then the Internet of Medical Things and RFID technology can be leveraged. Similarly, if the problem identified is promoting interoperability in a healthcare organization, then cloud-based EHRs and EMRs are a must-have feature in the healthcare SaaS software.

2. Software deployment and software infrastructure

Several healthcare organizations still rely on legacy infrastructure which is a cause of numerous issues that plague healthcare workflow. Healthcare SaaS software development should thus be easy to deploy and maintain to promote maximum utilization. Ease of use is another important feature to include in the healthcare software and all the stakeholders should be able to onboard and use the system with minimal training requirements.

3. Ensure stringent data security

Healthcare data is of utmost importance when starting with healthcare software development. The requirement to comply with regulatory requirements, the complexity of patient data and the presence of structured as well as unstructured data make data security of cloud-hosted data and ensuring HIPAA compliance a must-have feature when developing a SaaS solution for the healthcare sector.

Why Do Healthcare Tech Startups Prefer Using SaaS Business Models? – Benefits of SaaS in the healthcare sector

Let’s find out why healthcare tech startups choose a healthcare SaaS business:

1. Cost-Effective and Budget-Friendly

One excellent advantage of choosing the SaaS business model is that it doesn’t require much investment in infrastructure. It is because most of the work occurs over the Internet.

At the same time, customers can cut costs on hardware purchases as they only have to pay the SaaS subscription fee. In addition, customers can transfer their electronic medical records to different specialists without wasting money.

2. Scalability and Integration

Another benefit of choosing the SaaS model is that it ensures easy integration and scalability. With SaaS, you don’t need to buy server software or waste your resources. Instead, when you want to expand, you can increase server capacity.

Moreover, healthcare companies use the SaaS model to easily integrate insurance companies in the mix to make treatment plans affordable.

3. Upgrades

SaaS models make upgrading your current website and app a walk in the park.

As soon as the latest model launches in the market, SaaS automatically makes it available for customers without additional costs.

How to Gain Competitive Advantage in the Healthcare SaaS Space

Smartphones and wearables are slowly becoming an integral part of our everyday life. Thus, modern patients require the same convenience in their treatments. Patients now expect their doctors to offer instant treatments without having to sit in the waiting room for hours on end.

Using smartphones, apps, and other technologies within your healthcare provides you with an incredible competitive advantage. This section focuses on a few ways you can leverage SaaS software to increase customer outreach and retention rate:

1. Pay-Per-Use Model

The pay-per-use revenue model has been used for centuries and is effective for many businesses. Customers pay for what and how much they consume in this payment model.

With metered revenue model, the customer makes a single purchase at a fixed price for a limited time with the commitment of not using it further. PPU offers businesses various benefits, including:

  • Pay-per-use offers users easy access to the subscription service with the ability to use or not use it. Its flexibility attracts more customers to the SaaS services. In addition, its cost-effectiveness engages customers for prolonged periods.
  • PPU enables you to earn ROI within a shorter period. After this, you can jump to the phase of maximum profit.
  • Pay-per-use models help you understand current market trends by providing data on service usage. This way, you can identify which service is most popular among users, add value, and increase the lifeline of the SaaS service

Another subscription model that has gained traction is the subscription model. It is due to its scalability, predictability, and stability. However, what puts it at a disadvantage is that it requires a lot of resources, tweaking, and continuous persistence.

Subscription models require a research-based struggle to reshape various plans, pricing, services, and more to stay on top of its competition. In addition, there is a higher risk of subscription in the subscription model as users often develop a sense of guilt for overspending on resources they are not using.

2. AI/ML and Blockchain

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have self-learning capabilities, making them a growing trend in healthcare SaaS. At the same time, blockchain technology helps users connect data blocks in chains or databases.

This state-of-the-art tech helps optimize:

  • Internal healthcare processes
  • Improve productivity
  • Ensure security and privacy
  • Increase capacity for automation
  • Automate repetitive tasks

With machine learning algorithms, AI assists healthcare providers in identifying healthcare information patterns. It offers you a competitive edge as you get to spot newer and better ways to provide patient care.

In addition to this, healthcare facilities can improve their services with the help of SaaS by:

  • Integrating voice-enabled assistants that can detect human speech patterns. This way, you can streamline everyday processes like adding new information to records or data searching
  • AI helps you identify trends that help your organization identify potential threats to patient data security
  • Machine learning allows you to automate processes, as well as enhance overall responses by boosting the speed of internal procedures
  • Blockchain safeguards your confidential patient data from breaches by adding an extra layer of security

3. Vertical SaaS

Vertical SaaS is an all-in-one, highly customized software solution for specific industries. For instance, Guidewire is a vertical SaaS software as it offers a robust platform to insurance carriers.

Since vertical SaaS is customizable, it is more economical than horizontal SaaS. Here’s how vertical SaaS helps you stand out from your competition:

  • You can easily integrate analytics, business intelligence, etc. to access critical data insights
  • It enables you to incorporate valuable KPIs to assess the long-term performances of vital processes
  • Organizations can easily access patient data and healthcare-specific intelligence to understand patient insights effectively
  • It helps ensure your software meets the industry’s standards. This way, your business provides better value and performance
  • Since vertical SaaS is customizable, it allows organizations to provide higher-quality services

4. Integrations and Interoperability

In today’s world, customers find themselves using a collection of solutions that cater to their needs instead of a ‘rule them all’ kind of solution. However, having to use multiple software at one time can inhibit business. Thus, modern users seek more connectivity and work efficiently on one system while collaborating across multiple platforms.

Luckily, integrations and interoperability allow users to streamline workflow and run operations more efficiently. In addition, it enables them to collaborate effectively across numerous cloud platforms.

Not just this, but integration and interoperability also offer the following benefits:

  • It gives customers new ways to utilize your software and enables them to move from one software to the other seamlessly
  • Often SaaS companies that integrate tell their consumers about all the new ways to use their software, services, and products. This way, your product gets marketed in front of a brand-new audience, which can help scale your business much quicker
  • From the user’s perspective, integrations are easy-to-use and helpful, considering it only requires a couple of clicks to set up and start running

How Healthcare Organizations Can Choose a Healthcare SaaS Company?

To land the best healthcare SaaS company, healthcare organizations can start by listing out potential SaaS companies in the market. Then, narrow down the list to only those who provide healthcare SaaS solutions or have sound knowledge or experience working in the healthcare space. Companies who’ve worked in the healthcare space know all the ins and outs, including the stringent regulations.

As a healthcare professional, check whether the SaaS companies are HIPAA compliant. Additionally, after finalizing a few potential healthcare SaaS companies, practitioners can ask for a demo to check the working of the SaaS system. It is also essential to draw out a budget before talking to any healthcare SaaS company, as it helps with the negotiations.

Apart from this, look at the previous work of companies, check their portfolio, go through case studies, and then decide which SaaS company works for your healthcare organization.

The Cost of Developing and Maintaining a Healthcare SaaS Software

Your budget for healthcare SaaS software depends on three main things:

  • The functionalities you wish to provide
  • The SaaS provider you connect with
  • The development and technical support you require

Apart from this, you need to factor in the following costs:

  • Implementation support
  • Updates, improvements, and new features rollout under SaaS application evolution
  • Ongoing support for hardware security
  • Quality assurance

Typically, a healthcare SaaS platform costs between $50K and $500K. Additionally, you also need to compute the ongoing expenses and operational costs as a result of cloud usage and SaaS infrastructure maintenance. Like all other healthcare software development, developing a healthcare SaaS application also requires regular security checks to ensure HIPAA compliance and adherence to other regulatory legislations.

The Bottom Line

According to research, your business will likely grow by a whopping 19.63% if you move to the cloud. Since SaaS solutions are taking over the cloud computing market, it’s a brilliant idea to invest in them.

Plus, by investing in SaaS software to develop your healthcare app, you can unlock various benefits, including cost-effectiveness, greater security, reliable backups, and quick scalability.