Managing a high volume of patients was always a challenge for healthcare organizations. However, with the outbreak of Covid-19, this problem became more urgent than ever before. As a result, hospitals and medical institutions were forced to change their approaches and well-established practices to provide better patient care in extreme situations.
Hospital management software proved its effectiveness during the crisis. Experts predict that the demand for such digital solutions will grow even more, from $31,6 million in 2021 to $99 million by 2030.
Given that, the question of how to develop a hospital management system has become a pressing issue.
Luckily Syndicode has some answers to this matter. Our expert team has created a detailed guide covering all HMS development essentials. Today we are eager to share it with you.
In a nutshell, the sequence of steps to take to make a hospital management system is as follows:
- Step 1. Conduct market research
- Step 2. Choose the right type of HMS
- Step 3. Take care of the design
- Step 4. Define the must-have features
- Step 5. Choose the right development approach
- Step 6. Release an MVP first
- Step 7. Convert your MVP into a fully-fledged solution
What is healthcare management system software?
Hospital management software can be defined as a digital system that helps manage all patient information and automates billing, scheduling, regulatory compliance, and appointment processes.
Apart from that, HMS simplifies workload distribution, staff coordination, collaboration between different departments, and automatization of mundane tasks, be it patient registration or appointment scheduling.
The importance of such digital solutions for the healthcare sector cannot be overstated. They give medical providers better access to patient history and records, improve staff efficiency and productivity, and enhance data security.
How does a hospital management solution work?
To understand a typical HMS workflow, you should know who participates in the hospital management process. So, the key participants are:
- Patients: Initially, they don’t interact with a hospital management system. They come to a medical institution for an appointment and are registered in the system. They can view their treatment plan, appointment calendar, and billing information when they get an email or mobile message with login details.
- Doctors add new patients and review lists of doctors, their schedules, profiles, and the list of patients. Additionally, doctors can access such sensitive patient data as the history of diseases, treatment plans, and specific notes.
- Healthcare partners get access to financial and legal patient information. They help patients address billing or document issues.
- Lead Therapists can see all patients’ and doctors’ information, their profiles, and legal and financial documents. They can also add new doctors and patients and make appointments with doctors.
- Administrator adds or removes the abovementioned roles, gets complete access to all records, and documentation, and links patients with doctors.
- Super Admin manages the whole hospital management system by adding or deleting modules and fixing all system-related issues.
The interaction between all those parties can be illustrated in the following way:
The key benefits of hospital management software
There are several reasons why you should consider building HMS software for hospitals.
Enhanced data security
Old-fashioned paper-based documents are more prone to data breaches than electronic solutions since such docs are easier to access and steal. Besides, some files may be misplaced or lost due to human error. Building a hospital management system helps avoid all these issues. Such systems cannot be accessed without authorization so no one can read, misplace or disorder patient data.
Streamlined hospital workflow
A hospital management software system allows patients to reschedule or cancel appointments or review updates in the doctor’s schedule. At the same time, doctors can change medication lists, update patients’ histories, or add and remove symptoms. This way, healthcare management software improves hospital workflow for both parties.
Better collaboration between different hospital departments
Patient management software provides hospitals with a single platform for storing different data types, be it pharmacy inventory, lab results, or clinical summaries. Consequently, all authorized medical staff members can access the required information quickly and securely. In this regard, HMS minimizes the risks of mistakes or late responses and improves overall collaboration.
Detailed data on staff performance
Another area where management information systems in hospitals show their effectiveness is staff performance management. Hospital administration can review comprehensive reports to define the most profitable healthcare servicer or the least productive departments. Consequently, the administrators can make more informed decisions that help prevent damage to their reputation.
The main types of hospital management software
Before discussing how to develop a hospital management system, let’s find out what types of software for hospitals are available on the market.
Based on the functions an HMS performs, such digital solutions are divided into the following categories:
- Administrative systems store and process information about patients’ interactions with doctors, namely medical history, treatment course, and medications. These digital solutions allow healthcare providers to analyze the patients’ health records and get reports regarding the effectiveness of the prescribed treatment and overall patient care.
- Operational and tactical systems are created to avoid any inconsistencies in medical data within the whole system. All information is classified, structured, and interoperable at all levels of the medical institution. Different departments can access different healthcare records based on their user statuses.
- Task-based systems allow healthcare organizations to assign tasks to appropriate staff members and control their execution. Task-based software informs employees about task details and deadlines via notifications. Automated task creation and assignment simplified duties management and supervision significantly.
- Subject-based systems help healthcare providers reduce the amount of paperwork by converting patients’ paper documents into Electronic Health Records (EHR) or Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Digitalization allows hospitals to minimize risks associated with paper-based processes and enable them to manage healthcare records properly.
- Financial and billing systems platforms process patients’ treatment records and send them to their insurance companies to speed up the billing process. Billing software solutions also store all the financial information that can be easily retrieved and processed by the hospital administration or authorized staff members.
The main requirements for the hospital management system
To define how to develop a hospital management system that will be efficient for both medical institutions and patients, you should consider the following requirements for the HMS solution:
- The solution should be intuitive and easy to use so that all hospital staff members can cope with it effortlessly without a long and tedious training period.
- The robust and informative user interface should not allow any misunderstanding or inconsistencies regarding data that healthcare workers enter into the system.
- Hospital administration should set individual role-based access to the solution for each staff member based on their level of authority and responsibilities to control the sensitive data.
- The hospital management program must be able to provide relevant specialists with updated and accurate information per their request in a fast and secure way.
- The software solution should be compliant with the HIPAA standard.
- The system should have a scalable architecture so that the existing functionality and the number of doctors, patients, or medical facilities can be extended to enhance healthcare service delivery.
Challenges associated with HMS implementation
When building an HMS, take into consideration the following factors that may slow down the process of its implementation.
- The fear of data breaches
- The lack of IT-friendly medical staff members
- Difficulties associated with the transition from paper-based to digital processes
- Compliance with legal regulations
How to build a hospital management system
Now let’s discuss the steps you should take to make an effective and helpful hospital management software system.
Step1. Conduct market research
The comprehensive market research will provide you with valuable information related to the healthcare domain.
First, you will learn about the key industry challenges and determine what software solutions have been developed to address them. You will also become acquainted with the industry leaders like Philips Healthcare, Siemens Healthineers, or McKesson Corporation. You will definitely need to consider these products if you want to develop a hospital management system that will bring true value to healthcare providers and patients.
Second, you will define three categories of target users of the hospital management programs: hospital administrators, doctors, and authorized medical staff members, and patients.
Third, you will understand better the key driving factors behind the growth of the hospital management system software market.
Thus, the key factors that facilitate market growth and explain why hospital management systems are getting more and more widespread are as follows:
- Government initiatives and growing demand from healthcare providers for software for hospitals.
- A growing number of chronic diseases and the rise of the senior population.
- The increasing adoption of software solutions and IT infrastructure in the healthcare sector.
Step 2. Choose the right type of hospital management system
So you have defined your market and chosen specific medical organizations that will benefit from your solution the most. They can be hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or medical centers. Your next step is choosing the right type of hospital HMS software.
We have discussed their main types above, so now you are familiar with different healthcare management software. You have probably noticed that each of them is designed for a particular part of the hospital workflow and automates different tasks.
It should be noted that you can freely combine several types of HMS solutions to better satisfy healthcare organizations’ particular needs and requirements and provide better patient care.
Step 3. Consider the design
Based on our experience in creating custom software solutions for the healthcare industry, our UX/UI design team prepared some tips and guidelines that can be easily applicable to building patient management software.
Understand how the healthcare industry operates
The healthcare industry is considered one of the most complicated domains. Besides, the requirements, standards, and regulations differ depending on the country.
So before delving into the HMS development process, you need to understand the ecosystem of healthcare providers and patients in the targeted country.
To be more specific, you should imagine clearly how the patients seek care and how medical institutions give this care. By grasping the main intricacies of the healthcare industry, you will be able to create the proper system’s user flow and functionality.
Make sure that the design aligns with the user’s environment
To develop a hospital management system that will bring you stable profit, you need to understand users and their environment.
Do you create a solution for a large medical center or a small clinic? What about patients? Will they be sitting at home waiting for the doctor’s appointment? Or should they be able to update the appointment time on the go?
Think carefully about how these environments will influence the design requirements and how users will interact with patient management software in these environments.
Redundant tabs, flashy designs, and cumbersome functionality can become a source of distraction for healthcare providers and the reason for the late response. The late response, in turn, can have catastrophic consequences for the patient’s health. Given that, your task is to minimize these distractions.
With the minimalistic design of the hospital database management system, doctors and other medical staff will access the right information at the right time to provide patients with proper treatment. Such immediate response to their needs ensures the high quality of healthcare services.
Step 4. Choose the required functionality
Here we come to one of the most important steps of the HMS development process, defining the must-have functionality.
Below you can see a list of features that you should implement in the first place:
- Patient registration. The system should allow doctors to register new patients and enter their relevant information.
- Electronic health records can be seen as patients’ health charts. The vital data included are medical history, radiology images, treatment plans, allergies, laboratory and test results, and prescribed medication
- Appointment and scheduling functionality. The system should enable healthcare providers to schedule and manage appointments and notify patients via phone or email.
- Billing and financial modules allow hospital administration to review financial documentation and manage financial operations, including taxes, reviews, and patient bills.
- Doctor profiles. Patients should be able to review the list of doctors available in the medical institution, their schedules, experience, and achievements.
- Inventory management helps keep track of the flow of medical supplies and apparel such as masks, emergency blankets, thermometers, and first aid kits.
- Laboratory management. With this feature, both patients and doctors can be quickly notified about the results of lab tests. Additionally, this information can be retrieved by authorized specialists at any time.
- Statistics and reports provide administrators with valuable insights that help develop the medical institution and improve its service quality.
- Pharmacy management enables medical staff members to monitor the expiration date of the drugs in their inventory and plan their delivery.
- Statistics and reports provide administrators with valuable insights that help develop the medical institution and improve its service quality.
- Integration with insurance services allows recording and storing patients’ insurance details, namely policy number, the insurance company’s name, and key information about policies. This way, it is easier for patients to manage their policies and payments.
Step 5. Define the development approach
Your next step is to choose the right development approach to develop a hospital management system. You can either hire a custom software development company to create a software solution for you from scratch or use ready-made SaaS development solutions. The ultimate choice will depend on your specific goals, timeframes, and budget.
Thus, if you are restricted in time and money, you may opt for ready-made software. Such products are noted for affordable prices and can be launched within several hours.
However, be aware that the initial low price will also grow when the number of platform users grows.
Besides, out-of-the-box solutions may come with unnecessary features or, vice versa, lack some crucial features. So yes, the off-the-shelf software does not leave room for customization. You will not be able to change the solution’s price, feature set, or design. For example, consider investing in Ruby on Rails development services if you want a secure, stable, and scalable solution.
When it comes to customization, a partnership with an outsourced software development company is the best solution. Their dedicated development team will create a product for you from scratch or will convert your idea into a fully-fledged HMS product.
Step 6. Release an MVP first
MVP development for healthcare can be compared to clinical trials for new medicine. Both procedures are aimed at testing the feasibility, effectiveness, and safety of the solution before it is released to the mass market.
However, unlike trials, building an MVP takes less time. It can be completed within six months. Shorter timeframes can be explained by the very nature of the “term minimum viable product”. An MVP can be seen as a product with very basic functionality to help users understand what your product is about.
There are several reasons why MVP development is beneficial for a hospital management system project. The first one is cost-effectiveness. This approach allows you to assess the importance of product functionality. If some features turn out unnecessary, you can easily leave them out at the final development stage. This way, you will not waste money on redundant features.
The second reason is increased value. By analyzing users’ feedback, you can enhance your product with the features they truly need. As a result, you will get more than a solution that works well only on paper. You will get a valuable product that effectively addresses specific healthcare challenges and helps save patients’ lives.
Step 7. Launch a fully-fledged product
As soon as an MVP version of your software for hospitals is released and the feasibility of your idea is proven, it is time to gather feedback from early adopters. They may be healthcare providers, patients, or both. Their comments, observations, and insights will help you improve your product to make it even more efficient and helpful.
We also recommend using specific predefined KPI metrics to measure the success of your software solution. The most important of them are churn rate, customer acquisition cost, lifetime value of a customer, and the average revenue per user.
The results will show you how users see the product’s current and future value.
How much does it cost to build a hospital management system?
Here we would like to specify the key factors defining the final HMS price. They are as follows:
The first factor is project complexity. It can be measured by the number of features and integrations and their overall complexity. The more sophisticated functionality you want to implement, the higher will be the price.
The same rule applies to integrations with third-party services. Be aware that the solution may turn out rather expensive if you want to integrate advanced technologies like blockchain or augmented reality.
The second factor is the technology stack, namely programming languages, frameworks, libraries, databases, and cloud storage used for HMS development.
Finally, you should consider the development time size and their location.
Based on our experience, we can say that the HMS development cost varies between $70,000 and 180,000 depending on the factors we discussed above.
In recent years, healthcare software has become increasingly sought-after. So if you decide to develop a hospital management system, you have chosen the right moment. We hope this extensive guide provided you with all the important information on that matter.
If you need a reliable company to help you with HMS development, feel free to contact us. Syndicode houses all specialists you may need to get your hospital management software from scratch – from business analytics and UX/UI designers to quality assurance and DevOps engineers. They will eagerly enrich your project with their expertise and smart ideas.
Medical management software manages medical, financial, legal, and administrative processes. It also helps handle day-to-day hospital operations, be it appointment scheduling, billing, inventory or pharmacy management, and other administrative tasks. Finally, such digital solutions allow for storing and retrieving important patient information, including disease history, prescribed medicine, allergies, or laboratory results.
There are several types of software hospitals use to provide better patient care. They include Electronic Health Records (EHR) that contain all crucial patient information, hospital database management systems, and medical research software designed to train medical staff members. We should also mention medical diagnosis software, medical imaging solutions, e-prescribing systems, medical billing software, and telemedicine solutions.
There are several issues that are often associated with hospital management systems. The first one is cybersecurity threats. In recent years we have witnessed many cases of data breaches in the healthcare field. Another challenge is compliance with legal regulations. Finally, we should mention the potential data loss and privacy issues. Since patients provide a lot of sensitive information such as social security numbers, identification proofs, and personal contact details, hospital management systems should be accessed by authorized users only.
Hospital management is crucial because it ensures the timely delivery of high-quality healthcare services. Furthermore, with proper management, hospital administrators can track finances by planning funds flow and controlling expenses more efficiently. Another function of hospital management is to guarantee the privacy of interaction between patients and doctors.