Managing IT projects in the field of healthcare
Launching and managing healthcare IT projects and developing custom medical software is not a simple matter. A standard development team is not enough to build well-coordinated EHR, PMS, or other systems; you need the help of physicians, lawyers, insurers, and billing specialists. Who will connect the non-technical staff, the development team, and the business in such a way that tasks are completed on time, within budget, and without disagreements? This can be done by an experienced healthcare IT Project Manager. Let’s talk about the role of this specialist in achieving business goals.
What are the complexities of healthcare projects?
Medical software differs in complexity and is created for different purposes and different audiences:
- Heads of medical centers, clinics, and hospitals aspire to streamline the internal work of their facilities, improve patient care, reduce costs, and increase client loyalty. For these purposes, they develop electronic medical records, software for managing medical information, programs for managing revenues, and other systems.
- Patients want to monitor their health status remotely, consult a doctor, and receive electronic prescriptions. For these purposes, medical institutions develop healthcare mobile apps, TeleMedicine software, online clinics, and so on.
- Self-employed doctors want to find a convenient platform to connect with patients and deliver their services.
- Businesses strive to develop software for doctors, healthcare facilities, and patients in order to receive a sustainable yield from selling it.
Fulfilling the above purposes requires different technologies, teams, and tools. However, healthcare technologies share some common characteristics:
1. High risks
Development often exceeds the allocated budget and misses deadlines, as software engineers work with confidential client information. A minor mistake can lead to private data theft and fines for a law violation. Healthcare software customers are obliged to protect patient information under HIPPA and GDPR; otherwise, the case will go to court. That’s why customers go by the following principle: delaying the release in order to eliminate shortcomings is better than releasing vulnerable software.
2. Healthcare IT projects are expensive.
Implementation of medical projects is difficult and time-consuming. If the team misses a mistake or has to spend time eliminating a risk, this will impact the cost. The more drawbacks the work and product requirements contain, the more money a business has to pay for healthcare software development. Gartner estimated that healthcare technology spending would grow by 6.8%, amounting to $140 billion in 2021.
3. Complicated regulations.
To enter the market, the software is tested and approved by the appropriate authorities: a medical institution and local or national government. Healthcare software must comply with HIPAA – the way an app’s features are used determines compliance with the legislation.
According to the rules, an organization must protect patients’ personal information. Only authorized users can have access to ePHI, and data is securely encrypted. If these conditions are not met, then the app owner breaks the law.
Local laws are of great importance. Each country, region, and even state has its rules for the operation of medical institutions, which are important to pay attention to when developing a product. That’s why Business Analysts spend so much time on investigations when launching a product – in order to avoid large hidden risks.
4. The sector is constantly changing.
Healthcare projects usually last 6-20 months. During this period, there may be changes in technologies or legislation that should be reflected in the program. This, in turn, means that the team will have to deviate from the initial plan and spend hours implementing a new feature.
5. The project has many participants.
Apart from the development team, a healthcare startup involves third-party experts: doctors, lawyers, and customer representatives. There is also one more part of the interested audience – program users, whose opinion should also be taken into account. Therefore, an experienced healthcare IT Project Manager is needed to successfully implement software. This manager will organize the work in such a way that all the process participants are heard and work together on the common goal.
The importance of a Project Manager for healthcare projects
Like any other IT initiative, a healthcare project is limited in time, cost, and scope. No customer will love it if these three components are stretched. Therefore, a Project Manager strives to organize the work in such a way that the healthcare software development goes according to the planned scenario:
1. Plans the work on the project.
Before starting, the development team plans the implementation: how many IT specialists to involve, what budget will be needed, and how long the process will take. Healthcare IT project management includes:
- recruiting the team;
- rendering the project goal;
- establishing communication with the customer;
- defining areas of responsibility;
- setting the project acceptance criteria;
- ensuring compliance with legislation;
- determining the scope of work;
- forecasting and eliminating risks;
- calculating the required budget;
- controlling the budget and terms;
- solving emergency situations;
- choosing the project methodology.
A Project Manager sees the project as a whole and knows what stage the work is in at the moment. This specialist makes sure that the team follows the plan and doesn’t fall behind schedule.
2. Establishes work processes.
A Project Manager organizes their team’s work (studying requirements, designing, developing, and testing), brings the project participants up to speed, motivates specialists, and establishes effective communication. Also, this professional resolves conflicts between the team members, eliminates work hindrances, maintains documentation, and reports to customers on the achievements.
3. Supervises the work of the team.
A Project Manager makes sure that quality and security testing is conducted without delays and the new version of the program is released at the planned time:
- holds retrospective meetings and meetings regarding the project status;
- estimates the development team’s KPIs;
- manages the budget and issues invoices;
- communicates the customer’s wishes and recommendations for improvement to specialists;
- works with client reviews to make improvements;
- presents ready-made solutions, demo versions, and prototypes to the customer.
The tasks of a healthcare IT Project Manager can be grouped into the following three blocks:
- achieving goals of the customer through efficient task completion;
- achieving goals of the healthcare software development company through enhanced financial indicators;
- achieving goals of the team through motivations and career goal realizations.
Thanks to their abilities and competencies, a Project Manager can cope with the complexities of medical projects:
- ensures HIPAA and GDPR compliance in order to eliminate potential risks for clients;
- controls the budget of healthcare software development so that the product doesn’t increase in cost;
- takes changing trends of the sector into account and draws up a contingency plan to introduce changes as needed without jeopardizing the project;
- connects the development process participants (customer representatives, industry experts, and the IT team) so that they can quickly resolve problems without conflicts.
Thus, a Project Manager is one of the essential specialists without whom healthcare projects risk failing.
Reasons why healthcare projects fail
Experts from Forbes name several reasons for project failures:
- Project implementation without medical experts. Even the most advanced developers don’t know the specifics of healthcare and hence can’t fully implement them in the application.
- Cooperation with veteran doctors who are used to outdated technologies and don’t understand modern ways of healthcare software development.
- Absence of a go-to-market strategy. This causes companies to lose leads and revenue. The target audience is not clearly defined, which is why the company risks developing an undemanded product.
- Miscalculated ROI. By investing lots of money in the development of medical software that, in the end, falls short of expectations, a company goes into the red.
- Absence of planning and unclear requirements. When the team members don’t clearly understand what software to implement, they find it difficult to create a plan and follow it.
- Increasingly complex data collection requirements that healthcare organizations must follow.
- Poor communication between managers, stakeholders, and patients.
The global challenge for a healthcare IT Project Manager is to prevent these problems and bring the project to successful completion.
Andersen and healthcare projects
Our PMs have helped development teams implement over 60 healthcare projects. Here are some of them:
A communication platform for healthcare
Andersen, a healthcare software development company, has built a platform for communication and collaboration, aimed at clinic employees. The program helps to share information about a patient, protecting their data according to HIPAA. Users can’t save, copy, or delete messages. The data is stored not on devices but on an organization’s server. Thousands of medical institutions can remotely advise patients and coordinate their treatments. Every day, the platform processes over 10 million messages.
Surgical care imaging software
Andersen has developed software for a surgery assistance device. Its hardware consists of cameras, the main and secondary displays, a digital color printer, arthroscopes, sheaths, and other elements. The software developed by our experts has helped to improve surgery on joints. We not only implemented the customer’s requirements but also offered additional functions and a mobile application for remote control.
The project was approved by leading medical institutions. The system became one of the customer’s best products and contributed to their brand promotion, increasing sales by 20%.
IoT-based heart rate monitoring
Andersen’s specialists have implemented an IoT solution based on ballistocardiography. The program records heart rate variability during the night. The system connects to ferroelectret transducers to visualize the heart’s performance.
The app provides a detailed description of the quality of sleep and the recovery process. Remote heart rate monitoring is important for athletes, senior citizens, and people with chronic heart diseases. You can see more examples on our website in the Healthcare section.
The success of a healthcare project largely depends not only on the team but also on how effectively the management is organized. Thorough planning, regular feedback, monitoring, and open communication help to avoid problems and implement business ideas, ensuring that this implementation stays within the “Time-Budget-Scope” triangle. These are the top reasons why healthcare software development companies include a PM in IT project management.
About the Author
My name is Sergey Avdeychik, and I am passionate about using technology, learning new skills and being always up for a challenge. Currently, I work as a Director of Healthcare Technologies at Andersen. Being a part of the IT family for years, I aim at transforming IT processes in support of business transformation.
- Author’s Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sergeyavdeychik
- Author’s email: [email protected]
- Author’s profile: profiles.forbes.com/u/91e701c7-77dd-4224-9cd6-4258bc2ade26