Article | September 4, 2020
A digital twin is a digital representation of a real-world entity or system. The implementation of a digital twin is a model that mirrors a unique physical object, process, organization, person or other abstraction. For healthcare providers, digital twins provide an abstraction of the healthcare ecosystem’s component characteristics and behaviors. These are used in combination with other real-time health system (RTHS) capabilities to provide real-time monitoring, process simulation for efficiency improvements, population health and long-term, cross-functional statistical analyses.
Digital twins have the potential to transform and accelerate decision making, reduce clinical risk, improve operational efficiencies and lower cost of care, resulting in better competitive advantage for HDOs. However, digital twins will only be as valuable as the quality of the data utilized to create them. The digital twin of a real-world entity is a method to create relevance for descriptive data about its modeled entity. How that digital twin is built and used can lead to better-informed care pathways and organizational decisions, but it can also lead clinicians and executives down a path of frustration if they get the source data wrong. The underlying systems that gather and process data are key to the success for digital twin creation. Get those systems right and digital twins can accelerate care delivery and operational efficiencies.
Twins in Healthcare Delivery
The fact is that HDOs have been using digital twins for years. Although rudimentary in function, digital representations of patients, workflow processes and hospital operations have already been applied by caregivers and administrators across the HDO. For example, a physician uses a digital medical record to develop a treatment plan for a patient. The information in the medical record (a rudimentary digital twin) along with the physician’s experience, training and education combine to provide a diagnostic or treatment plan. Any gaps in information must be compensated through additional data gathering, trial-and-error treatments, intuitive leaps informed through experience or simply guessing. The CIO’s task now is to remove as many of those gaps as possible using available technology to give the physician the greatest opportunity to return their patients to wellness in the most efficient possible manner.
Today, one way to close those gaps is to create the technology-based mechanisms to collect accurate data for the various decision contexts within the HDO. These contexts are numerous and include decisioning perspectives for every functional unit within the enterprise. The more accurate the data collected on a specific topic, the higher the value of the downstream digital twin to each decision maker (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Digital Twins Are Only as Good as Their Data Source
HDO CIOs and other leaders that base decisions on poor-quality digital twins increase organizational risk and potential patient care risk. Alternatively, high-quality digital twins will accelerate digital business and patient care effectiveness by providing decision makers the best information in the correct context, in the right moment and at the right place — hallmarks of the RTHS.
Benefits and Uses
Digital Twin Types in Healthcare Delivery
Current practices for digital twins take two basic forms: discrete digital twins and composite digital twins. Discrete digital twins are the type that most people think about when approaching the topic. These digital twins are one-dimensional, created from a single set or source of data. An MRI study of a lung, for example, is used to create a digital representation of a patient that can be used by trained analytics processes to detect the subtle image variations that indicate a cancerous tumor. The model of the patient’s lung is a discrete digital twin. There are numerous other examples of discrete digital twins across healthcare delivery, each example tied to data collection technologies for specific clinical diagnostic purposes. Some of these data sources include vitals monitors, imaging technologies for specific conditions, sensors for electroencephalography (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG). All these technologies deliver discrete data describing one (or very few) aspects of a patient’s condition.
Situational awareness is at the heart of HDO digital twins. They are the culmination of information gathered from IoT and other sources to create an informed, accurate digital model of the real-world healthcare organization. Situational awareness is the engine behind various “hospital of the future,” “digital hospital” and “smart patient room” initiatives. It is at the core of the RTHS.
Digital twins, when applied through the RTHS, positively impact these organizational areas (with associated technology examples — the technologies all use one or more types of digital twins to fulfill their capability):
Clinical communication and collaboration
Next-generation nurse call
Alarms and notifications
Integrated patient room
Digital Twin Usability
Digital twin risk is tied directly to usability. Digital twin usability is another way of looking at the issue created by poor data quality or low data point counts used to create the twins. Decision making is a process that is reliant on inputs from relevant information sources combined with education, experience, risk assessment, defined requirements, criteria and opportunities to reach a plausible conclusion. There is a boundary or threshold that must be reached for each of these inputs before a person or system can derive a decision. When digital twins are used for one or many of these sources, the ability to cross these decision thresholds to create reasonable and actionable conclusions is tied to the accuracy of the twins (see Figure 2).
Figure 2: Digital Twin Usability Thresholds
For example, the amount of information about a patient room required to decide if the space is too hot or cold is low (due to a single temperature reading from a wall-mounted thermostat). In addition, the accuracy or quality of that data can be low (that is, a few degrees off) and still be effective for deciding to raise or lower the room temperature. To decide if the chiller on the roof of that patient wing needs to be replaced, the decision maker needs much more information. That data may represent all thermostat readings in the wing over a long period of time with some level of verification on temperature accuracy. The data may also include energy load information over the same period consumed by the associated chiller.
If viewed in terms of a digital twin, the complexity level and accuracy level of the source data must pass an accuracy threshold that allows users to form accurate decisions. There are multiple thresholds for each digital twin — based on twin quality — whether that twin is a patient, a revenue cycle workflow or hospital wing. These thresholds create a limit of decision impact; the lower the twin quality the less important the available decision for the real-world entity the twin represents.
Trusting Digital Twins for HDOs
The concept of a limit of detail required to make certain decisions raises certain questions. First, “how does a decision maker know they have enough detail in their digital twin to take action based on what the model is describing about its real-world counterpart?” The answer lies in measurement and monitoring of specific aspects of a digital twin, whether it be a discrete twin, composite twin or organization twin.
Users must understand the inputs required for decisions and where twins will provide one or more of the components of that input. They need to examine the required decision criteria in order to reach the appropriate level of expected outcome from the decision itself. These feed into the measurements that users will have to monitor for each twin. These criteria will be unique to each twin. Composite twins will have unique measurements that may be independent from the underlying discrete twin measurement.
The monitoring of these key twin characteristics must be as current as the target twin’s data flow or update process. Digital twins that are updated once can have a single measurement to gauge its appropriateness for decisioning. A twin that is updated every second based on event stream data must be measured continuously.
This trap is the same for all digital twins regardless of context. The difference is in the potential impact. A facilities decision that leads to cooler-than-desired temperatures in the hallways pales in comparison to a faulty clinical diagnosis that leads to unnecessary testing or negative patient outcomes.
All it takes is a single instance of a digital twin used beyond its means with negative results for trust to disappear — erasing the significant investments in time and effort it took to create the twin. That is why it is imperative that twins be considered a technology product that requires constant process improvement. From the IoT edge where data is collected to the data ingestion and analytics processes that consume and mold the data to the digital twin creation routines, all must be under continuous pressure for improvement.
Include a Concise Digital Twin Vision Within the HDO Digital Transformation Strategy
Digital twins are one of the foundational constructs supporting digital transformation efforts by HDO CIOs. They are digital representations of the real-world entities targeted by organizations that benefit from the advances and efficiencies technologies bring to healthcare delivery. Those technology advances and efficiencies will only be delivered successfully if the underlying data and associated digital twins have the appropriate level of precision to sustain the transformation initiatives.
To ensure this attention to digital twin worthiness, it is imperative that HDO CIOs include a digital twin vision as part of their organization’s digital transformation strategy. Binding the two within the strategy will reinforce the important role digital twins play in achieving the desired outcomes with all participating stakeholders.
Building new capabilities — APIs, artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies enable the connections and automation that the platform provides.
Leveraging existing systems — Legacy systems that an HDO already owns can be adapted and connected to form part of its digital platform.
Applying the platform to the industry — Digital platforms must support specific use cases, and those use cases will reflect the needs of patients, employees and other consumers.
Create a Digital Twin Pilot Program
Like other advanced technology ideas, a digital twin program is best started as a simple project that can act as a starting point for maturity over time. Begin this by selecting a simple model of a patient, a department or other entity tied to a specific desired business or clinical outcome. The goal is to understand the challenges your organization will face when implementing digital twins.
The target for the digital twin should be discrete and easily managed. For example, a digital twin of a blood bank storage facility is a contained entity with a limited number of measurement points, such as temperature, humidity and door activity. The digital twin could be used to simulate the impact of door open time on temperature and humidity within the storage facility. The idea is to pick a project that allows your team to concentrate on data collection and twin creation processes rather than get tied up in specific details of the modeled object.
Begin by analyzing the underlying source data required to compose the digital twin, with the understanding that the usability of the twins is directly correlated to its data’s quality. Understand the full data pathway from the IoT devices through to where that data is stored. Think through the data collection type needed for the twin, is discrete data or real-time data required? How much data is needed to form the twin accurately? How accurate is the data generated by the IoT devices?
Create a simulation environment to exercise the digital twin through its paces against known operational variables. The twin’s value is tied to how the underlying data represents the response of the modeled entity against external input. Keep this simple to start with — concentrate on the IT mechanisms that create and execute the twin and the simulation environment.
Monitor and measure the performance of the digital twin. Use the virtuous cycle to create a constant improvement process for the sample twin. Experience gained through this simple project will create many lessons learned and best practices to follow for complex digital twins that will follow.
Article | March 15, 2021
The world is moving towards digitalization in every domain. And now COVID-19 has imposed a need for remote work and communication environments. In that case, healthcare organizations have started utilizing medical software with cutting-edge technologies that could offer mobile health solutions. And they could cater to such needs through a healthcare software development company.
Therefore, the medical institutions must opt for the right healthcare software vendor that is familiar with the new trends in the healthcare sector. Such companies can help optimize digital patient care through health care application development.
Importance of healthcare software development company Or why you need one?
Healthcare software development companies process applications to store, retrieve, and share user data. They are connected globally through cloud services. Partnering with a healthcare software company can avail you of many benefits like:
Better Patient Experience
A professional healthcare software developer can manage your medical software very smoothly and effectively. This could help in delivering better patient experiences. It also enables you to get access to the patient’s information before the appointment.
A dedicated healthcare development company will ensure to deliver faster patient checks with lesser paperwork. The information is filed electronically and considers order prescriptions smoothly.
Easy Scheduling and Maintenance
Healthcare software development services offer a strong scheduling system. It helps in finding out the convenient date and time for the patient’s appointment at their comfort. The medical software is flexible to perform such tasks smoothly. It also solves the issues of overbooking through proper scheduling.
Easy Billing and EHR
Billing is an intimidating task in the healthcare industry. A good healthcare software offers easy billing and EHR facilities. It also helps you automate the processes involved in the EHR model.
Healthcare software development services: Important factors to consider
Focus on usability and ease of use
Healthcare employees have a busy job. So, they prefer a user-friendly and easy-to-navigate interface. Only such an interface could ensure a high user adoption rate.
Additionally, healthcare institutions need to prepare their employees for any changes in their working process that the new software solutions might bring. For that, they need to provide adequate training and support, so that when the time comes, they can derive the maximum advantages out of the software solutions according to Vishal Shah from TatvaSoft.com
Integration with various applications
Various system integration requirements are used to make sure the new solutions work properly with other systems. You should also look further for whether current legacy systems need any upgrades to integrate them with the new solutions.
A professional administration
Access to the data by specialist doctors to update the data is necessary. However, access to the data should be strictly restricted with proper arrangements.
Medical care organizations need proper security measures with laws on data, protection, and other security principles. A leak of patient information is a critical issue that may cause weighty business misfortune. Only the approved staff with rights to oversee the admittance to information and patient records can approach the necessary data.
Development costs depend on the size and complexity of the software or applications which is directly connected to the specific business needs of the healthcare organizations. First, an organization needs to identify key problems that require software solutions.
Also, consider the future IT needs of healthcare institutions such as potential business expansion and its scalability and integration requirements. A mobile workforce can help your organization attain more efficient workflow and enhanced productivity.
Healthcare IT infrastructure
IT infrastructure includes hardware, devices, internet connection speed, and/or mobile 4G connection, and many more. Healthcare agencies need to consider whether such infrastructure will be offered by the development company or if the organization has to use its resources.
While using employees’ resources may compromise security, it is suggested that employees must be given the devices and technologies by the companies. The devices and technology need to be updated on the regular basis.
Questions to Ask Healthcare Software Development Company
We have compiled a list of some questions that could help you get the best and most suitable medical IOS and Android app development partner.
Do you know/understand how HIPAA privacy protection rules might apply to healthcare software products?
HIPAA can be subtle and complicated. Federal and state laws have included HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules for the privacy and security protections for hospitals and medical institutions.
There will be many healthcare software developers who won’t be familiar with HIPAA and how it is applied to the products. You must check that out.
Can we sign an NDA?
If your business idea is precious from the IP (Intellectual Properties) perspective then you must ask the app development company to sign the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) before you discuss any details of the project. It is also signed to protect sensitive business details from any third party.
Can I have the contact information of your former clients?
It is vital to have a look at the mobile application development agency before you consider them to hire. However, you won’t get the entire picture and other details but to get that you can ask the company for the contact information of some of their former clients.
Get in touch with their former clients, ask them about their experience working with the agency. The goal is to not only have a great app at the end but also go through an app development process that is stress-free, easy, and enjoyable.
Checking for reviews and references is the key when it comes to hiring mobile application developers.
What is your Software development methodology?
Latest best practices like scrum and agile development are far more reliable compared to conventional methods. Software development companies nowadays practice them to be more efficient and productive. They understand that the market changes quickly and to cope up with it, they need to be capable of adapting to the changes quickly.
How experienced are your healthcare software developers?
Check for the experience of the developers employed by your medical software development partner. They need to be qualified to build medical solutions and deliver them within a predetermined budget and timeline.
How to choose?
Even if you have decided to work with a healthcare software development company, there are hundreds of companies out there, and all claim to be the best in the field. How would you choose the one that can help you achieve your goals?
Analyze their Area of Expertise and their Experience as a Healthcare Software Developer
Quality is the one thing that should be never compromised no matter how complex your demands are. In the software development healthcare industry there are many standards and compliance requirements like HIS and HIPAA that need to be catered to.
Therefore, you need to analyze their area of expertise and their experiences. Only experienced healthcare software vendors can understand and fulfill the critical needs of customers.
However, expertise isn't enough. You also need to look at the certifications to gain deeper knowledge about the healthcare solution developers’ level of professionalism.
Go Through Their Healthcare Software Development Portfolio to Get a Better Idea of Projects and Quality
Go through the portfolio of the potential healthcare software development partner. Look at their past projects in the healthcare domain and check if it matches your requirements. Research about their market reputation and reach as well as find out whether they serve the organizations in your niche.
The key factors to look for in the portfolio:
Types of healthcare software they have delivered in the past
Clients they have served- names, strength, and value
The complexity of projects they’ve handled
The kind of experience they provide to the users
Technologies they excel in
Reviews and Ratings Could Be Helpful
Find out what the customers are talking about this company. Analyze their reviews and ratings. Understand how a particular healthcare software development company deals with their clients and cater to their services.
Carefully Understand their Process
Almost every company has a unique process to provide their healthcare software development services. But all processes generally consists of the following:
1. Requirement analysis
2. Scope freezing
3. Product prototyping
4. Product development
5. QA and testing
7. Post-launch support
These software development processes could follow any approach from waterfall to agile methodology. Know the details of the process from your healthcare software development partner and understand how it aligns with your goals. And never hesitate to clear your doubts.
Know the Cost to Develop a Healthcare Software
Everyone has a budget and make sure you have communicated well about your software development budget with your potential healthcare technology partner. Ask them about the cost to build the software and look for the cost to quality ratio. After gathering all the necessary details, make an informed decision.
Understand the Engagement Models to Choose the Best
Engagement models are the ways of collaboration for the business relationship. You can choose from the following:
A. Turnkey Engagement Model
It is also known as the fixed price model. When you share your demands, you get a fixed quote for the work. This is an ideal model for:
Projects with a well-defined scope
For assigning test tasks to the developers
B. Time and Material Basis Model
In this model, hiring is done based on time and material. A client agrees to pay a hired software development company based on the time the developers spend after developing their products and other relevant tasks. The payments are done according to the mutually agreed hourly rate. The model is suitable when:
Unclear requirements or specifications,
A long-term project with dynamic pricing
The client needs more flexibility
C. Dedicated Hiring Model
As the name suggests, it enables you to hire dedicated resources from the web development company. One can hire a web development company for your project, depending on the number of hours spent by the developers on your project. This model is best suited for:
Clients who are looking for an extension to their in-house team
Those who have unclear project requirements
The hirer is looking for more flexibility
Find out What Does the Healthcare Software Development Company has to Offer Post-launch
You are mistaken if you believe that the healthcare software development cycle ends with the launch of the product. There are chances of hitting obstacles any time and do not forget that the market keeps changing in terms of technology and user demands. This means you might need to upgrade your software or need to add some features to it.
For all such requirements, the healthcare software development agency offers support and maintenance services for a limited time post-launch. There could be specific terms and conditions for it too.
So, before you hire any agency, do not forget to inquire about the support and maintenance services offered by them and its price.
What is the Team Structure that They Would Provide You?
Ask about the team structure offered by the company for your software development project. You can interview a potential team of software developers if you want to. You should do it to assess the capacity of the team. In general, a software development team consists of:
1. Requirement analyst
2. Project manager
3. UI/UX designer
4. Software developer
5. QA tester and engineer
Also, you need to convey your requirements clearly to the software development agency so that they can do justice to your project.
Ability of a Healthcare Software Development Company to Assist You For Expanding Your Software’s Features
The main goal of developing medical software is to increase the efficiency of your operations, automate them, enhance them, and last but not least: offer a better patient experience. Therefore, above all other things, you must check out the ability of the custom healthcare software development company to expand or scale-up the product as per your needs.
Areas of Use
Custom healthcare development is used in the following areas:
Telemedicine is a flourishing branch for custom software development companies in the healthcare business. App development is crucial for telemedicine and healthcare providers because it facilitates teleconsultation and healthcare information. Mobile applications play a key role in sharing medical services and information among patients.
Healthcare portals and patient databases
There is a wide scope for a healthcare app or a patient portal that could compile and store the data categorically over long periods.
This type of storage of health data can be accessible by the doctors in the form of medical records when they are seeing the patient, even if it is the first time. One can pull the data off the EMR and EHR which maintains such a set of data records. To ensure the protection of the data, personal information is kept confidential and only between the patient and doctor, on the portals.
E-consultations and e-prescription
E-consultation is one of the latest practices in digital healthcare services. Mobile apps are developed that are compatible with both iOS as well as Android and are user-friendly.
Such applications enable patients to consult with the doctors remotely based on their healthcare needs and get e-prescriptions as well. They can also get online treatment plans for certain diagnoses through this. The healthcare software developers have similar solutions for virtual billing software and e-pharmacy management.
VR and AR healthcare software development
Since their initial release, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality have been very helpful in medical care especially in the COVID-19 remote healthcare scene. Ran through a powerful technology stack, AR-VR enables the patient to feel and see how a treatment or a medical device works.
Big Data and AI solutions for healthcare
Healthcare is one of the Big Data industries. It manages the flow of large volumes of medical data daily. To ensure that the collected data is used well, healthcare services are now powered by AI.
Health tracking and fitness apps
Wearable technology is gaining immense popularity these days. The products include smartwatches and bands that could track heart rate, sleep cycles, number of steps walked, and many more. These kinds of applications built by expert healthcare developers are among the most downloaded on the internet.
Custom healthcare software is important for healthcare organizations to make their process easier as possible. The COVID-19 pandemic is further popularizing telemedicine, e-consultation, AI solutions, fitness, and other health applications.
I know choosing a suitable healthcare software development company is not easy, but if you follow the process mentioned in this article, you can get the best and top-rated software developers who create apps for the medical and health care industries.
I hope this article has guided you well to understand better about healthcare software development companies. However, if you have any queries or suggestions, please connect with us in the comments section below.
Article | March 29, 2020
COVID-19 related data sources are fairly easy to find. Libraries in R and Python make it super easy to come up with pretty visualizations, models, forecasts, insights and recommendations. I have seen recommendations in areas like economics, public policy, and healthcare policy from individuals who apparently have no background in any of these fields. All of us have seen these 'data driven' insights. Some close friends have asked if I have been analyzing the COVID-19 datasets. Yes, I have been looking at these datasets. However, my analysis has been just out of curiosity and not with the intent of publishing my forecast or recommendations. I am not planning to make any of my analyses on COVID-19 dataset public because I sincerely believe that I am not qualified to do so.
Article | March 13, 2020
In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has started to turn up everywhere you look. It powers our ever-present digital assistants; it helps recommend entertainment options and has even begun to reshape the way businesses carry out their everyday operations. As AI moves further into healthcare, regulatory challenges await. The truth is, there isn’t a single major industry that isn’t being changed by the rapid development of AI-powered technology. There is one, though, that stands out among all others: healthcare. The global healthcare industry arguably has more to gain from advances in AI than any other industry. It’s already being put to use in aiding diagnoses, monitoring patient health data to look for early warning signs of disease, and managing medication doses and prescriptions. It’s even proven adept at predicting patient mortality. At the same time, however, the adoption of AI into healthcare carries some unique risks not found elsewhere – owing to the fact that any missteps can cost lives.