The business case for this decision is straightforward – namely, the avoidance of the time-consuming and expensive process of building in-house engineering teams, especially at a time when conditions are uncertain.
Let’s look at how things stand in the digital healthcare industry, where patient-centric product design and development lead the way. Selecting the right technology partner is especially important in this case. What factors should you take into account when choosing one so that cooperation brings tangible benefits to your business?
As we know the benefits of working with technology partners who specialize in, among others, the healthcare industry, it is worth considering when it is the right time to get them involved in our project. When building products with a patient-centric approach, these phases can be observed:
A technology partner is best engaged at the end of the analysis and research process, i.e., once functional requirements are already in the form of scenarios.
Once the requirements are gathered, your partner’s engineers can step in and translate them into a solution architecture. This is actually one of the most important moments for your product – poor architecture can have severe consequences, including financial and time ramifications.
It is crucial for the technology partner’s team to know that the work they do falls within a framework. In addition, the functional requirements you provide result from lengthy, thorough research and design work. This will ensure that the initial solution architecture is ‘flexible’ and open to changes, such as functional requirements, that arise in later development. The architect must incorporate stringent patient/user privacy and security requirements, legal requirements, and medical industry standards into the design. The architect and required engineer’s work will form the basis for estimating and pricing the core development and implementation work.
A technology partner operationally aligned with the patient-centric approach will likely opt for one of the popular agile collaboration models during the development phase. Take Scrum, currently the most popular development approach, which corresponds well with patient-centric approaches. The product owner writes out a backlog, considering the order in which functionality and value are delivered. In practice, the solution fragments produced in stages will be successive prototypes containing more and more functionality, ready to be tested by your target group.
There are some specific classes of medical solutions where each successive iteration, even at the prototyping stage, requires extensive testing activities (medical device software development is an excellent example). Therefore, your technology partner, in addition to custom software development competence (application layer, embedded), must also have testing resources. Functionality should be tested (functionally and security-wise) before the prototype is made available for testing.
And the last but not least crucial thing – experience. When seeking a system contractor or technology partner, make sure to check whether they have developed MedTech products before. Choosing a digital healthcare company with expertise will save you the time needed to familiarize them with your particular industry.
A solution’s final phase is its integration before it is launched. At this point, the individual components of a product or service can be integrated into a single system if they already meet the needs and expectations of the patients/users. Many times, the solution under development will require certification (medical devices, digital therapeutics), which requires the supplier to perform and document rigorous testing of both the entire solution and individual components.
Depending on the practices during the development phase (whether the testing strategy was already completed and implemented with successive iterations performed by the development team), QA activities (for example, integration tests, performance tests, and coverage tests) will have different dimensions. Integration, certification, and implementation are the perfect times to leverage a technology partner’s expertise. When selecting a company responsible for software development, it is worth paying attention to its knowledge of industry standards (e.g., ISO 11633, IEC 62304, ISO/TS 82304, or ISO 29119).
Various specialized companies are available on the market to help you implement medical technology at different stages (from research entities carrying out market research and patient/user needs studies to companies designing and manufacturing specific class medical devices or those dealing exclusively with product design).
Solwit supports its clients with experienced development and testing teams. It enables them to work with organizations that specialize in the later stages of developing applications or products for the healthcare industry. Our experience in digital healthcare spans a wide range of areas – from medication reminder apps and package delivery systems for hospitals, to cardiac resynchronization therapy optimization and insulin pump software.