The pandemic forced healthcare and healthtech companies to upgrade. But many platforms are left isolated in outdated legacy systems that are incompatible with more recent technologies. So, how do you keep up if you lack the time or budget to upgrade your platform? The low-code approach for healthcare app development may be your best solution to make the process faster, cheaper, and more accessible to people outside of IT.
According to the 2019 Forrester Large Enterprises Succeeding with Low-Code survey, low-code technology has become a practical alternative to custom coding. About 31% of 254 IT decision-makers around the world, including healthcare organizations, use low-code development tools and platforms for apps with complex business logic.
This article will tell you how low-code can simplify healthcare software development and maintenance and even make your platform more scalable. We’re also going to look at successful healthcare projects built entirely with low-code solutions.
What are the benefits of low-code for healthcare companies?
Low-code development is a visual approach to building applications with minimal manual programming. The technology is available through dedicated environments—low-code platforms—that allow even non-developers to create software using graphical interfaces.
To help you see why this technology might be right for your company, let’s break down some of the benefits of low-code and traditional development in healthcare.
1. Faster development and time-to-market
The low-code approach reduces engineering effort, helping junior developers and senior engineers to work more efficiently. How, you might ask?
These platforms provide boilerplate code, reusable components, and pre-built templates to speed up development. In other words, you’re creating an application from building blocks instead of making it from scratch. And it’s not just for top-to-bottom software development. You can use low-code to quickly add off-the-shelf solutions to your platforms.
About 50% of enterprises using low-code solutions say they provide a faster speed of delivery than other types of programming. Plus, over 84% of these companies say that the low-code approach helped them improve their time-to-market.
2. Easily scalable architectures
You can’t be sure how many healthcare professionals and patients will use your software, especially if it gains popularity. This won’t be a problem with low-code solutions that support scalable cloud-native SaaS architectures.
Most low-code platforms integrate with popular cloud computing providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure—services that allow you to scale resources according to your requirements for uptime and costs.
Even better, 65% of enterprises using low-code platforms state that these technologies handle significantly more users and data than other solutions they use. About 60% say the same about using low-code technology to store data.
3. Healthcare professionals engaged in the production
The simplicity and accessibility of low-code platforms allow more people from the healthcare industry to contribute to development, including people without coding skills.
Imagine analysts, doctors, nurses, and business technicians (citizen developers) taking part in the design, development, and deployment of your medical solution. Wouldn’t it make your application more valuable for healthcare providers?
According to Gartner’s 2021 research, over 41% of non-IT staff build or customize technological solutions across industries. Gartner also states that more than half of low-code customers will come from people outside the IT industry by 2025.
4. Reduced development and maintenance costs
Low-code reduces strain on IT departments and lowers the overall costs of the software development life-cycle. About 84% of organizations that have implemented low-code did so precisely to cut their expenses.
These solutions allow you to deploy a minimum viable product or a working prototype quickly, efficiently, and with minimal coding. Doing so gives you more time to validate your idea and secure potential investment.
As we mentioned, low-code tools can be used by non-technical professionals, reducing the need to hire in-house or outsourced developers. Plus, you’ll need less engineering effort to create low-code healthcare apps, which results in lower overall costs.
Robotic process automation (RPA) stands as one of the most widespread low-code technologies in 2021. It helps automate redundant processes during full-scale development, so your in-house team can focus on business-critical aspects of your project.
5. Integrates with third-party software and legacy systems
Low-code development brings healthcare innovation closer to your platform, especially if you’ve stuck with outdated legacy systems. That’s right—90% of low-code adopters have updated their products and improved their IT capabilities.
Healthcare companies use low-code platforms to replace legacy modules with modern third-party technologies, including telehealth, administrative management, and scheduling software. You can also quickly build web and mobile applications on top of your healthcare platform, allowing remote access from mobile devices. Plus, low-code tools simplify implementing electronic health record (EHR) systems into your platforms.
At the same time, low-code is no silver bullet, and you should know about its limitations before considering it for your project.
Read also: Your guide to software reengineering.
Challenges of low-code healthcare development
Despite their rapid growth, low-code (let alone codeless) solutions are still far from perfect. Let’s briefly go over their biggest constraints:
- You don’t have access to the source of low-code platforms, which may lead to vendor lock-in (inability to switch platforms without substantial costs).
- You may face security issues even on secure platforms if you decide to integrate external apps, databases, cloud services, and custom interfaces.
- You’ll be limited to the features offered by your provider and probably need to do additional hand-coding to enhance your software.
Knowing how to combine low-code and traditional coding is critical to maximizing the performance of development teams. It’s, therefore, necessary to understand what these platforms can do.
Capabilities of low-code platforms for healthcare projects
Advanced platforms offer a vast array of tools and features to help you build clinical software. Some of their capabilities include:
- Reusable out-of-the-box components. Low-code platforms provide customizable software, reusable code, widgets, plugins, pre-built connectors for integrations, and templates for common development scenarios.
- Visual programming. Companies can simplify the development process with intuitive drag-and-drop features accessible even to non-technical users.
- Data integration. These platforms support interoperability and data exchange standards to share data across systems (EHRs, healthcare applications, remote monitoring tools, third-party apps, etc.).
- System analysis. Some solutions offer advanced monitoring and analytics features to help you track performance, uptime, and resource usage.
- Cloud-native architecture. Most low-code platforms are hosted in the cloud and offer scalable hosting options with flexible payment plans.
- Process automation. Nearly half of companies chose low-code for its ability to automate critical business processes.
- Compliant development environment. Platforms designed for healthcare organizations are built on secure servers in compliance with industry-specific regulations and standards (such as HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, and FFDCA).
When used right, low-code in healthcare is about fast and cost-effective problem-solving and innovation. What do we mean by “using it right”?
Low-code: Use cases in healthcare
Even though we said low-code isn’t perfect (yet), the platforms available today meet the requirements of the most demanding companies. To illustrate our point, let’s look at some real examples in the healthcare industry.
Hospital management system for ATC
“Low-code technology by far exceeds any productivity and reliability I have come across in more than 25 years in IT business”
Omar Shraim, Senior Director IT at ATC
Advanced Technology Company (ATC), a Kuwait-based healthcare technology provider, had a legacy system with complex solutions, siloed data, and inefficient communication between departments. Available hospital management solutions were overly expensive and would take up to five years to make.
ATC decided to use a low-side platform to build a complete hospital management system. The company was able to deploy a fully customizable solution in weeks instead of years.
The solution allowed ATC to reduce licensing costs and simplify patient registering processes and gave access to real-time analysis of critical system data.
Centralized communication tool for Luz Saúde
“Low-code platform has been a key digital enabler for Luz Saúde to tackle the challenges raised by our business expansion”
Cristina Freitas, Project Manager at Luz Saúde
Luz Saúde, a leading Portuguese healthcare group, needed a tool to provide medical personnel with content management, access control, and scheduling features. The development was estimated to take over nine months with a full-scale engineering team.
However, the management opted for a low-code platform to reduce the time-to-market. The decision to build a low-code solution for healthcare was the right choice, seeing as the process took only four months with a tiny seven-person team.
Homecare planning system for Saga HealthCare
“With a low-code development tool, you can easily build expertise within your own IT department, and from there, the power to develop and innovate is in your hands”
Matt Smith, Head of IT at Saga Healthcare
Saga HealthCare, one of the UK’s largest homecare agencies, needed to launch a new homecare scheduling system. The initial estimates for the project were $16 million and three years. However, a low-code solution allowed the company to build the desired system for less than $333,500 over just six months.
Analytics platform for medical implants for Kermit PPI
“Leveraging a low-code environment allowed us to develop our solution very quickly, efficiently, test it, roll it out and make modifications from customer feedback”
Jason Smith, COO and Co-Founder at Kermit PPI
Kermit PPI, a US hospital analytics platform, wanted to help hospitals digitize transaction and billing management for its implantable medical devices.
A regular technical stack was about to take Kermit PPI roughly a year to build an app with a team of 10 developers. But the low-code platform allowed the company to create its app on the first iteration in nine months with a single developer.
The Kermit software helps identify contracting issues, analyze invoices, and detect opportunities to reduce expenses. As a result, hospitals using their solutions save about 30% on medical implants.
Remote monitoring platform for Medtronic
“We wanted a secure platform that would allow us to build the capabilities we needed quickly and easily—and we’ve got it”
Karel Nouwen, Senior IT Director at Medtronic
Medtronic, a US-based medical device enterprise operating in 150 countries, needed secure and scalable software for remote monitoring and triage of devices, trackers, and sensors. The available off-the-shelf solutions lacked features or were too hard to customize to Medtronic’s needs.
The low-code solutions the firm used for development helped deploy a product in half a year. Medtronic can now quickly adjust and scale its platform based on its requirements, cutting about 50% of IT expenses. This goes to show the potential of low-code applications in the healthcare industry. Some companies today have concerns about low-code. However, over 30% would prefer to use it in the future for complex internal logic.
Accelerate your digital transformation with Acropolium
Low-code makes it possible to build healthcare software with minimum manual hand-coding. Of course, the technology is still evolving, and you should not depend on it to solve all your software problems. But have no qualms—when used appropriately, a low-code platform for healthcare helps create secure, interoperable, and scalable software faster and cheaper than a traditional technical stack.
Whether you want to enhance aspects of your platform, automate business processes, rebuild your legacy software, or create an entire operational healthcare software solution, Acropolium can share its expertise. Our team will recommend the best low-code option for your custom software and support the complete development cycle.
If you’re interested, you’re welcome to contact us to learn more!