Healthcare Software Development Blog

How to build the right software, get customers and keep them coming back

The Growing Landscape of Medical Apps in Healthcare

Posted by Mitch Posada on Mon, Apr 07, 2014 @ 10:05

Handheld medical apps are changing the healthcare landscape. While medical devices with embedded software have been around for over two decades, the advent of smartphones with touch screens, smart Bluetooth technologies and internet connectivity has brought about a tsunami of apps designed for every purpose, from monitoring body temperature to measuring heart rate. Today's medical apps are becoming increasingly smarter, multifunctional and user-friendly.

In the past, healthcare and life science companies concentrated on manufacturing medical equipment and devices for hospitals and doctors. Now, they are switching to mobile apps more and more as their mainstream offering. The majority of these apps are intended for direct use by consumers and patients rather than doctors and caregivers. This has brought about a paradigm shift in people's perception of healthcare by making healthcare more accessible to patients.

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Topics: Mobile App, healthcare mobile apps, medical mobile apps

Lowering Risk Using Agile and Lean Methodologies

Posted by Jacque Harper on Wed, Mar 19, 2014 @ 11:27

Several common types of risks in software development can be mitigated by using Agile, Lean and a user-centered development process. In this post, we will look at three types of risk:

  • Risk of Poor Design, or the Wrong Features
  • Risk in the Marketplace
  • Risk of Unknown Factors

Risk of Poor Design, or the Wrong Features

This is the risk of building a feature or function that customers will not pay for, or will not use - or the risk of designing a feature (whether it’s in visual design, interactivity, or even the architectural design of the application) that frustrates users or complicates the operation of the system to the point where it will not be used. Building the wrong features or building the right features in a way that makes them unusable wastes money and time, and ultimately saps morale.

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Topics: medical device software

The Growing Significance of Bluetooth BTLE in Healthcare

Posted by Mitch Posada on Mon, Mar 17, 2014 @ 03:37

Bluetooth Low Energy (BTLE), also known as Bluetooth Smart, is a wireless computer network technology that allows Bluetooth-enabled devices to "talk" to each other over a short distance. Compared to a standard Bluetooth connection, BTLE runs on far less power and has only about about one-half of the range (15 meters or 50 feet), but offers most of the connectivity. This makes it ideal for medical devices that need to run on limited power supply, typically in the form of a button cell, for months, or even years.

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Topics: healthcare innovation, Healthcare Software, healthcare mobile apps, bluetooth

Fast Feedback Post Launch: Where the Rubber Hits the Road

Posted by Bernhard Kappe on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 @ 10:32

Feedback helps you make your product better.  The more good feedback you get, and the faster you get it, the faster you can incorporate that feedback to improve your product.  The best feedback you can get is not from ideal devices used under ideal conditions, but rather from real use in real conditions. In other words, postmarket feedback.

Getting actual usage data and feedback quickly and reliably is important in any industry.  But it’s becoming ever more important in medical devices and diagnostics:

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Topics: FDA Approval, Agile Development, FeedBack,

A Fully Functioning Agile Shop in an FDA Environment

Posted by Jim Kingsberg on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 @ 10:30

As an application and software development project manager at Pathfinder, I’ve been on the front lines of many product development processes, and I’ve witnessed both the successes and obstacles that cross the development path. Working with Agile Method lends itself to a fast-paced development cycle, but challenges can easily sneak up on you and throw a project off track. In order to stay ahead of possible snags, I suggest keeping an eye out for some common problems and tackling them as soon as they arise.



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Topics: 510(k), FDA, Agile Development

Planning for Feedback: Three User Thursdays

Posted by Bernhard Kappe on Wed, Mar 05, 2014 @ 11:10

There are many excuses for not getting feedback from users and customers:

  • They'll steal our intellectual property
  • They'll reject it if it's not perfect
  • It takes too much effort and is too expensive
  • (Secretly) We're afraid of being proved wrong
  • If we talk to them, we may have to change what we're building, and it's too late for that.
  • We don't have time

In our experience, the value of getting feedback from users far outweighs the risks and inconvenience.

As the graph from the Standish report highlighted in the eBook points out, 70% of software features that are built don't get used, either because they're not that important to the users, or because of inadequate design. At the same time, important features are often missed, or discovered late in testing.

To put it another way: You never get it right the first time. Frequent feedback from users lets you iteratively improve the product, starting with prototypes and moving through development, preventing wasted effort on unnecessary features and making the features you do build usable and effective (and reducing human factors risks in the bargain.)

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Topics: medical mobile software development, medical device software, Agile Development, Healthcare Software

The Increasing Importance of Software in Medical Devices

Posted by Mitch Posada on Mon, Mar 03, 2014 @ 01:00

Medical devices have become such a vital part of modern healthcare that practically no diagnosis or treatment is possible without them. According to the WHO, there are about 1.5 million medical devices available today, ranging from low cost devices like the thermometer and stethoscope to expensive, highly sophisticated devices like MRI and chemotherapy machines. With the increasing complexity and connectivity of medical devices, the role of medical device software development is becoming more crucial.

Medical software applications are designed to give devices a range of functionalities. For example, in addition to enabling a device to interact with the human body, a device could perform a host of other functions such as measuring blood sugar levels, monitoring heart rate and dispensing medication. Today's medical devices are also capable of communicating with each other wirelessly and over the internet to other devices and applications, magnifying the importance of software to process and display accurate information for various users.

The term "medical software" has been in use since the early 1980s, when advancements in software technology made it possible to build software-driven medical devices. The early software programs were little more than control programs that switched the device on and off and displayed readings like temperature and pressure. As devices became more complex, so did their software. In addition to the controlling and monitoring of the devices, advanced software functions began to emerge.

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Topics: mHealth, medical device development, medical device software, Healthcare Software, medical devices, healthcare

Getting your 510K Medical Software Ready

Posted by Mitch Posada on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 @ 10:31

Medical devices have become so indispensable to modern healthcare that practically no major diagnosis or  treatment can be done without them. According to the WHO, an estimated 1.5 million medical devices are currently available, ranging from the humble digital thermometer to the highly sophisticated MRI machine. An increasing number of these devices are being driven by software external to the device, for example, a companion mobile app.

The growing popularity of software-driven medical devices has made it necessary for manufacturers to be aware of the 510K medical software development process, especially in the case of regulated class II and III devices. Since even a small flaw in such devices can directly or indirectly result in the injury, or even death of a patient, every new device must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before it can be made available to the public.

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Topics: FDA

Faster Feedback Through Integrated Cross-Functional Teams

Posted by Bernhard Kappe on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 @ 08:30

In FDA software development one of the most important keys to getting the most out of agile methodology is to ensure fast feedback from outside of the development team.

One way to do this is to build cross-functional teams - bringing some functions that are outside the development team into the team, so that it has all of the necessary skills to move a user story to completion.

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Automating Database Promotion With TeamCity, Azure, and SQL PowerShell

Posted by Trevor Hess on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 @ 11:43

A current medical software project here at Pathfinder involves a lot of Microsoft SQL database development. There was already a good automation process in place for pushing our code out to different environments using TeamCity, our Continuous Integration (CI) server. But we were manually moving new database files into our Quality Assurance (QA) and User Acceptance Testing (UAT) environments when there was a database schema change. We quickly saw an opportunity for automation, and sought out the means to script database promotion from one environment to another. Our CI, QA and UAT environments are hosted on Windows Azure, so we immediately turned to the Azure PowerShell tools for our solution. However, the information we needed to accomplish our task was spread out around the web. Our goal is to consolidate this information in one place for others who wish to accomplish the same task.

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