How to Apply SDLC to the Healthcare Industry

Can a systems development life cycle approach benefit your hospital or HCO?

healthcare SDLC, system development life cycle for the healthcare industry

The healthcare industry is facing challenges like never before. For example, major retail players such as Walgreens and CVS are now offering services traditionally reserved for healthcare clinics.

Fortunately, along with the challenges, technology breakthroughs and innovations also appear. Is your facility or office prepared to take advantage of these solutions when they do?

Challenges in Modern Healthcare Industry

Increased demands for data management, medical information security and government compliance requires today’s healthcare businesses to significantly invest in IT staff, systems and solutions. In addition, the average doctor’s volume of patients has increased year after year as the population gets older and more people benefit from comprehensive healthcare insurance coverage.

Telemedicine is another option increasingly being approved by state and federal agencies. However, doctors must have the technology and infrastructure in place to support this trending medical practice technique.

Other major technology challenges for modern healthcare organizations include:

  • Growth in digital data (i.e. electronic medical records, digital imaging, etc.)
  • HIPAA security compliance
  • Lack of interoperation between data from different departments
  • Mobile healthcare trend
  • ICD-10 implementation
  • Pressure to reduce infrastructure footprint

Despite these and other challenges, many of which are technical in nature and related to government and industry “best practices” compliance, patients increasingly expect better outcomes delivered in a convenient form and adapted to their lifestyles.

SDLC for Healthcare Organizations

Patient Journey Modeling is a healthcare quality improvement methodology that can be applied to model a patient's journey through a health care organization (HCO). By taking this journey from a patient's perspective and following a systems development lifecycle (SDLC) framework for IT project management, healthcare service creation and delivery can be more effective, of a higher quality, and at a lower cost for better or similar value delivery than other methods.

SDLC is a standard project management methodology with proven effectiveness over many years of use in information technology infrastructure and application development projects. The SDLC follows a multistep, iterative process that enables ideas to be transformed into well-documented projects that can be turned into repeatable, operational successes which meet or exceeds a customer's or business's expectations.

Patient journey modeling, first described formally in 2006 as quality improvement of health care services, has rapidly become one of the priorities of HCOs around the world.

As in any method based on an SDLC project management framework, stakeholder involvement is critical to its success in delivering quality results within the schedule, budget and scope constraints of a project. Stakeholders such as hospital management executives, physicians, nurses, information technology personnel and patients must be committed to actively participate in the process and provide honest feedback.

Such communication between participants must be enabled and facilitated by the use of proper tools which can significantly impact the continuous improvement efforts that must be a part of such an endeavor. Communication between project stakeholders about policies and procedures, system usage, roles and responsibilities, and key measurements such as process time and execution cost must be part of such a tool set.

Clinical Information Systems

Another example of SDLC methods application in healthcare is clinical information systems (CIS) which require an interdisciplinary approach from many professionals working under the common framework of SDLC. Their goal is to ensure that the value expectations from the money invested in such systems are realized.

CIS starts with gathering requirement which lay the foundation upon which a system selection process is started. Following the SDLC multi-phase approach, development and user testing are performed, staff are trained, pilot and production implementation is done and continuous improvement processes are established.

For operational success and long-term value, standard processes and creation of a governance structure supporting company-wide communication and feedback must be established. This will ensure continuous and consistent system changes that adapt to new business conditions, government regulations and patient expectations.

Partner With a Healthcare Technology Solutions Professional

In recent years, the use of SDLC project management methods to deliver higher quality results have been warmly welcomed by healthcare professionals and executives. Vendors and consultants alike can assist healthcare staff by gathering compliance requirements, conducting a cost assessment and benefits analysis - all necessary for the design phase to proceed.

Innovative Architects is a Microsoft gold certified consulting firm specializing in finding creative healthcare technology solutions that help HCOs overcome the challenges of government and industry compliance, data management and security, etc. From our hubs based in Georgia, Florida and Washington, D.C., we have decades of combined experience partnering with hospitals and healthcare organizations like yours - from strategic and tactical planning to operations. Contact us today to see how we can help.