Opinion: Go for customised solutions as opposed to off-the-shelf software and applications

Mitchell McBeath, Chief Customer Officer, Humanetix

In this guest post, Mitchell McBeath, Chief Customer Officer at Humanetix, suggests that healthcare providers need to be looking for hyper-personalised software that ticks all the boxes as opposed to something that is plug-and-play.

For healthcare providers in Australia, the allure of off-the-shelf applications might seem enticing. However, there is a strong case for customising software to meet our healthcare industry’s intricate and unique needs. Australian healthcare operates within its challenges, regulations, and patient care intricacies, making tailored solutions imperative for healthcare providers and software vendors.

Furthermore, there is a significant difference between basic customisation and the degree to which a software platform can and should be hyper-personalised to suit an individual healthcare provider.

From connecting hardware and software with sensors, wearables, workflows and more, how an application was built many years ago to be a ‘market-ready’ product determines the healthcare provider’s ability to personalise today and tomorrow.

Here’s why Australian healthcare providers should lean towards hyper-personalised software rather than off-the-shelf applications.

As a former provider, I wanted to share some hard lessons I’ve learnt, having implemented applications and solutions that were extremely difficult to personalise, leading to significant challenges.

Customisation vs Hyper-Personalisation

I applaud the industry for moving toward a more customised version of software solutions in the marketplace; however, we still have some work to do. Making changes to the look and feel of an application and editing forms or dashboards is a step in the right direction. However, we still need the ability for software providers to be onsite with every customer, understand each employee and the information they need to be successful – learn their processes, and ask broader questions about the current technology in place and pain points.

Hyper personalisation ensures that software connects the dots between siloed systems, and this information is then displayed to different employees to make better decisions whilst delivering care. The info a GP requires vs a Registered Nurse is very different, and this is also very different for every local healthcare provider – their location, role types, skill set, localised legislation, internal processes, and systems they have implemented.

Understanding this and how software can be hyper-personalised is the key to better decision-making in our industry.

Addressing Specific Needs

Healthcare in Australia is diverse and varied, as are its software needs. Customised applications can be built to fit the exact requirements of a healthcare provider, accommodating specific workflows, patient management systems, and data intricacies unique to our local systems. Off-the-shelf solutions often need help seamlessly integrating with existing systems, leading to inefficiencies and complexities. Furthermore, we operate in a highly regulated sector, so the ability for the software to be updated quickly and efficiently is paramount for a successful provider and vendor partnership.

Meeting Regulatory Compliance

The Australian healthcare sector operates under strict regulations to safeguard patient data and ensure quality care. Customised software can be developed with specific rules like the Australian Privacy Principles or the My Health Record system in mind, ensuring compliance from the get-go. Off-the-shelf applications might align less closely, potentially risking compliance and legal repercussions.

Enhanced Security

Protecting patient data is paramount, and Australian healthcare providers must prioritise robust security measures. Customised software allows for tailored security protocols, encryption methods, and access controls, reducing the risk of data breaches or unauthorised access, crucial for maintaining patient confidentiality. This, backed by the vendor’s ability to be ISO 27001 or offer FHIR interoperability standards, is now the industry’s benchmark.

More and more Australian companies are experiencing significant security breaches, we need to look at the most vulnerable part of our community and ensure we lift our standards to ensure the security of this sensitive data.

Scalability and Adaptability

Our healthcare systems need to adapt and grow over time. Custom software is more adaptable, allowing for more effortless scalability and modifications as the organisation’s needs evolve. Off-the-shelf solutions might limit scalability and hinder innovation within Australian healthcare providers. As more products enter or leave the market, the industry desperately needs scalable solutions to bridge the gap until we find longer-term consistency and scalability for all.

Improved User Experience

Tailored software means custom-designed user interfaces and experiences that align with the workflows of our medical professionals. This leads to more intuitive systems, improving efficiency and reducing the learning curve for staff, ultimately benefiting patient care.

Software bought that has not been co-designed, independently evaluated or had rigorous testing should be reviewed with caution.

Long-term Cost Efficiency

While the initial cost of developing customised software might seem higher, the long-term benefits can outweigh this investment. Custom solutions can reduce ongoing maintenance costs, eliminate multiple subscriptions, and prevent productivity losses due to software limitations or incompatibility.

Integration and Interoperability

Customised software allows for better integration with existing systems, promoting interoperability between departments or healthcare providers. This improves communication and data sharing, leading to more efficient patient care.

While off-the-shelf applications offer convenience, they often need more customisation to meet the intricate demands of Australian healthcare. Customised software provides the precision, compliance, security, and adaptability crucial for delivering optimal patient care and streamlining operations in our local healthcare landscape. Investing in tailor-made software can improve patient outcomes, operational efficiency, and a stronger position in the Australian healthcare industry, but only if we can all be consistent with the limitations and opportunities with customisation going forward.


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