March 05, 2018 Healthcare Leaders Wonder: Build vs Buy Software? Build vs Buy Software? Tech leaders in healthcare must choose wisely. With the right solution it’s possible to mix customization with scalable architecture. Craig Knighton Chief Operating Officer Businesses building out digital capabilities in healthcare will never have it easy. But developing a digital health solution is not the Wild West anymore. Paths in digital health have been blazed and the tripping points are now understood better than ever before. One thing is especially clear: not including a mobile app in your strategic vision is like putting off paying credit card debt. The longer you wait, the greater the costs the business amasses. Care consumers won’t stand for poor user experiences in their care journeys. So, the question leaders in healthcare should be asking isn’t, “Do we need a mobile app?” Instead, they should think ahead and ask, “Which suits the business? Build vs buy software?” Healthcare Leaders Wonder: Build vs Buy Software? The specter of ever-increasing costs in healthcare delivery incentivizes businesses to speed the innovation and implementation of digital health solutions. Until 2025, national health spending is expected to grow by 5.6% every year The average yearly growth rate of per capita of out-of-pocket spending is 4.8% during the same timeframe Meanwhile, more money is spent on innovation every year. Almost $3 billion was spent on digital health investments in 2014. By That number rose to $5.8 billion in 2017. It’s increasingly clear that investing in mobile applications is an opportune way to kick off innovation since so many users are taking to their phones to begin better management of their health. “80% of people expect their clinics to interact with them through their phone. 95% of people say that they believe that mHealth apps will help improve their quality of life. When you see these numbers and comments where people say, “I just expect to manage my health through my phone and I think it’s actually going to help” -— how can you ignore a digital strategy at that point in time? That’s why the traditional providers are asking, ‘How do we start interacting with our patients through their phone because they’re asking for it?'” Lonny Stormo, CEO & Cofounder, POPS! Diabetes Care But a mobile application isn’t an infallible thing. That’s why it’s so important to consider how its architecture will or will not scale with the business and its iterations over its lifetime. So, businesses in healthcare must weigh build vs buy software and whether the chosen solution can scale indefinitely with their needs. It’s an important quandary when it comes to determining how going mobile will help — or inhibit — healthcare’s incumbent businesses as they decide how exactly their digital strategies will unfold. Build vs Buy Software: When Businesses Should BUILD Sometimes, a custom, branded software experience is more appropriate for engaging a specific group of users or patients. When it comes to determining build vs buy software, build may suit this need more thoroughly. Treatment strategies that are highly tailored to the company and/or the user’s medical condition typically benefit from user experiences that only custom applications can support. From medication scheduling to managing diabetes symptoms, custom apps can provide richer functionalities that instill healthier habits in their users. Those who provide value by meeting the patient on her terms (via a mobile touchpoint) position themselves for success when applying digital strategies to healthcare delivery. This strategy is the new normal. The longer organizations take to meet the modern patient, the more they put their relevance at stake. Build vs Buy Software: When Businesses Should BUY While a business is right to weigh the options within the build vs buy software quandary, buying a white label application should be their default. Only when both technical and business-side stakeholders can explain why unique business requirements demand a custom build should the business pursue that route. No company can ever argue that it was cheaper to build their own application than to buy an off-the-shelf product when that company is able to amortize development costs across many customers. In choosing off-the-shelf or white label solutions, business leaders can save money upfront. But they risk committing to a solution that may not scale with changing business scenarios — which are quite common in the healthcare industry. But Buy Carefully White label solutions can cause headaches to businesses undergoing a merger or acquisition. A white label solution that serves the needs of one business would need to cohere with those of the parent, child, or partner company/companies. From complex administrative portals to simple branding capabilities, the differences between two parties’ solutions may not always reconcile within a legacy solution brought to the table in M&As. Reworking the already complex architecture of a whitelabel solution in the event of M&As drives up costs and potentially renders the product obsolete if it cannot accommodate the features required by the new partner organizations. Build vs Buy Software: Is it Possible Choose Incorrectly? The risk associated with buying is that a company may end up in a situation where the solution vendor can’t or won’t add the feature the company wants. Businesses building their own digital health solution avoid this situation altogether. But building a product that is essentially a duplicate of an existing commercial product just so stakeholders have 5% more flexibility in its design and function is likely to cost 10-100x as much money in the long run. That extra 5% better be worth it. How Everyone Benefits When Healthcare Goes Mobile Don’t be a laggard. When the patient has more information than ever at her disposal, businesses that can only offer limited information and limited service via digital channels simply won’t be able to keep up with their competition. If that patient’s needs aren’t met, she is capable of making informed choices that allow her to pursue the best care at the most affordable price — elsewhere. Building a mobile app provides a solid foundation for businesses in healthcare looking to modernize aspects of their care delivery strategy. More than three-quarters of health professionals believe mobile apps will help patients manage chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. From scheduling portals to virtual consultations and real time test results, time is saved as false alarms are addressed sooner and paperwork is reduced, if not eliminated. Even in 2014, when only one in six doctors’ visits used such digital solutions, the healthcare system was spared $5 billion. So, if you’re still wondering, “What’s better, build vs buy software in healthcare,” the answer is yes. Image Source: Unsplash, Luis Melendez Tags MobileDevelopment Share Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Medical Device Software Critical questions to ask before starting a medical device project. Download Share Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Sign up for our monthly newsletter. Sign up for our monthly newsletter.