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Key Features of Effective Software Development

Key Features of Effective Software Development

 
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Article author: Ronnie Peterson
      Written by Ronnie Peterson
       (4-minute read)
As we all know, technology is playing an ever-more critical role in every industry, which has implications for software development, and also for training and support, as complexity increases.

In this article, as with many of our articles, we’ll use a real-life industry – in this case, healthcare – as an example. But the broad lessons and points we make are common everywhere.

As you can imagine, healthcare software is at the center of improving patient care, streamlining operations, and ensuring compliance with regulations. This means that it needs to continually evolve to keep up with the functionality demanded of it.  As a further result, first rate training and support are necessary to provide the high level of quality of service required.

Effective healthcare software must incorporate several key features to meet the complex needs of healthcare providers and patients. And customized software helps raise the standards of medical services further, making tasks more efficient: from collecting patient information to creating personalized treatment plans.



What Should Medical Software Be Like?


The User Interface

First and foremost, the interface must be simple, user-friendly, and understandable.  It doesn’t matter how comprehensive the functionality, if people don’t really understand how to use it, it will fail.  And it’s not enough to declare it “idiot proof”! Different people can react differently to the same things, so intelligent and comprehensive instructions and guides need to be provided.

The interface must be designed to be intuitive:
  • The right design – clean, streamlined, and simple! It’s a common mistake for solutions to feature excessive animation and complex elements. Clear icons and simple navigation are what the average user needs, not bells and whistles. People simply need to find and use any function, quickly and easily.
  • Consistency and clarity — The logical arrangement of all pages and blocks is important. They must have a uniform look and feel, so users will get used to how it works, and spend less time searching for what they need.
  • Accessibility — The software should be available for use on different devices. In particular, PCs, tablets, and mobile phones. After all, different users use different devices.

Integration

The ability to integrate with other systems is also very important because doctors and nurses use a wide variety of systems.  These include electronic health records (EHRs), laboratory information systems (LIS), and radiology information systems (RIS). And taking our earlier point about customized software, it’s easy to see why custom healthcare software development must be easy to integrate and interact with existing systems.

Seamless integration is preferred:
  • Standardized data formats — For example, the international standards set by HL7 and FHIR. This enables information to be easily exchanged and interpreted by different systems.
  • APIs and web services — APIs (or Application Programming Interfaces) facilitate communication between different systems, enabling data exchange and integration by automated “handshakes” between apps.
  • Data mapping and transformation — This ensures that the information exchanged is consistent and accurate.
By ensuring interoperability, healthcare software can provide a comprehensive view of patient information, improve care coordination, and reduce the risk of errors due to fragmented data.



Sensitivity and Security

It is also important to remember that healthcare is a very sensitive area. And of course it is also subject to a number of regulations (in particular, HIPAA in the United States). This means that robust privacy and security measures are in place to ensure protection against a growing number of cyber threats.

There are different ways to do this. For example, developers use data encryption to ensure that information is secure even in the event of unauthorized access. In other words, even if someone steals data, encryption guarantees they won’t know what it means. They also use role-based access control systems, which ensure that only specific people have access to certain information.

Scalability

Any solution must support scalability to deal with expected future needs. In healthcare, as patient volumes increase and new services are added, the system should be able to expand its capabilities without reducing performance. (The most common example is where an upgrade or expansion creates a system slowdown...)

Scalability ensures that the software can handle increased data loads, more users, and additional functionalities seamlessly.

Reporting and Analytics

Another critical feature is robust reporting and analytics. Software must be able to provide powerful tools for generating detailed reports and analyzing data, which assists with decision-making processes.  With healthcare, it helps providers to improve patient outcomes, optimize operations, and identify trends. Customizable dashboards and real-time analytics can offer extremely valuable insights, whether it relates to timely day-to-day interventions or strategic planning.



Commissioning Software Development

From all this, you can appreciate that if you’re planning to commission software development, you should take quite a bit into account. You would of course choose the developers very carefully and make sure they have a track record in your industry.  You don’t want them to learn at your expense!

Training and Support

But even with the system defined, developed and implemented, comprehensive training and support are essential. Everyone involved must receive thorough training on using the system to maximize its benefits. This means everyone, so if you have staff who only use the software to cover for absence, they need training too.

If you're developing a customized system, it's especially important to have  access to training, because (by definition) the developers will be the only people who fully understand it.  Training can take the form of courses - both in-person and online - but also in downloadable resources and support via email or (rarely) telephone.

This brings us on to ongoing technical support, which is essential because it ensures that any issues are promptly addressed, minimizing disruptions. A reliable support system will boost user satisfaction and the overall effectiveness of the system.

Round Up

In conclusion, effective software must be user-friendly, integrative, secure, scalable, and well-supported. We’ve used healthcare as a vehicle, but you can see that by incorporating these features, an informed investment in high-quality software development is a crucial step towards achieving excellence in any operation.

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