How to Make a Hospital Management Software

How to Make a Hospital Management Software

Qualified staff forms only one part of a successful health facility, while well-established management makes the other part. Taking into account the complexity of any hospital ecosystem, the whole functioning of the entity is impossible without a proper software management system.

In this article, we will consider the HSM (Hospital Management Software), its most important features, development tips, and finally find out how to create a hospital management software.

What is a hospital management system?

HMS seems to encompass rather a broad concept, so for clarity, we will explain what is meant by this. Hospital Management System is a standalone or cloud-based web medical management system that accumulates and integrates data from all departments to automate the institution’s daily internal processes.

Hosting and cloud computing market size worldwide 2010-2020
Image 1. Hosting and cloud computing market size worldwide 2010-2020. Source: Statista

HMS is aimed at facilitating the work of hospital staff, including interactions with patients. It helps with:

  • automation of routine tasks;
  • improved communication and coordination of staff;
  • achieving a patient-centered approach;
  • material and human resources management;
  • supply chain control.

Hospital Management System contains information about:

Categories Data
Doctors Schedules, appointments, emergency numbers
Staff Contact numbers, professional information
Patients Confidential personal data, medical history
Laboratory results Test and analysis results
Supplies Medicine and instruments inventory
Billing Hospital and patients spending
Insurance Patient insurance data
Statistical reports All the data analysis and diversified reports

Module types of hospital management software

The hospital management software can vary from one health organization to another, depending on the functionality it incorporates. However, we have distinguished the five main module types that are used in each HMS. Keep in mind that your system can be a combination of different software modules and include different functionality developed according to your particular needs. Now let’s take a deeper look at them for a clearer understanding:

Operational and tactical systems

Operational systems are known as one of the most common methods for classifying medical information. Its integration gives you an opportunity to distribute information pyramidally where these systems are dealing with a certain type of medical information at each level. It allows ensuring reliable and fast operation with data, as well as detecting inconsistencies in the system. Reliable work with information will provide any hospital with the necessary foundation for high-quality work, both with patients and with internal issues.

Administrative and clinical systems

Mandatory for all hospitals, this module of HMS is responsible for providing patient information in the form of reports and statistics. Information is entered into the system when the patient is discharged (retrospective data entry), as well as after medical assistance (to provide details), after which it is sent as a report to the Department of Health (DOH). Keep in mind that the clinical system, which contains electronic patient records (EPRs), is based on the administrative one, since administrative information provides different clinical systems with links.

Subject-based systems

Subject-based systems by which we mean Electronic Health Records (EHR) or Electronic Medical Records (EMR), are used to store patient information digitally. They are mainly used by hospitals to manage and store a complete digital history of patients. Compared to paper-based records, EHR and EMR help avoid data duplication, since all information is stored in one file modified over time. Usually, these modules are widespread in clinics with Hospital Management Software.

Example of hospital management system workflow
Image 2. Example of HMS workflow

Task-based systems

Task-based systems are a set of codes designed for optimal categorization of working tasks. An intelligent representative of this type of system will automatically prioritize and distribute tasks between staff based on the current hospital situation. Such modules focus on certain tasks, e.g. admissions/discharge or transfer to an operating theater.

When implementing such a system, keep in mind that it works worse than its alternatives like subject-based ones due to the increased risk of data duplication, which affects the speed of the system, the optimization of disk space, and the nature of storage of data arrays. The risk arises because of the peculiarities of this HMS component, which lies in the fact that the same subject undergoes several different tasks, and basic data such as name and address, is collected every time.

Billing or Financial systems

Billing systems are responsible for monitoring and managing the finances of the hospital. Patient costing is monitored thanks to the tagging of different outputs from clinical management systems with the corresponding prices. The lion’s share of costing is carried out by assessing the cost distribution of previous years. An important quality of such systems is the ability to bill and control their payment/non-payment. Given all of the above, billing systems are an integral part of hospitals for optimal financial performance.

Hospital management system features

HMS is created to ensure the effectiveness of medical facilities at all stages. Accordingly, the functionality of such systems should cover a wide range of tasks. Let’s look at the main features you will need to build a hospital management system:

Area of the system Description
Patient registration and scheduling Acceleration and simplification of the patient registration process by automating call processing and filling out medical forms. Subsequently, the patient has the opportunity to make an appointment with the doctor from anywhere at the desired time, and the doctor can monitor the schedule of patients. Providing a convenient patient system will become the basis for the formation of the rest of the patient-interaction functionality.
Financial management Monitoring the budget and various financial transactions, which include accounts, taxes, cost. HMS should automate the total price for hospital services and keep a payment history for each patient. At the same time, patients need to see a list of prices for any service before payment. A valuable advantage of financial management automation will be the analysis of the financial situation of the hospital and the preparation of a correction for the strategy to improve it.
Inventory management Tracking the number of items in stock to control the availability of medical materials. Using this feature, employees can track the supplies and calculate the necessary time for the next delivery. Also, the program helps control the expiration date of medicines.
Laboratory management Thanks to email notifications or messages in communication channels, clinic staff and patients can quickly find out about test results. Often, the speed of their receipt directly affects the successful outcome of treatment.
Data reports and statistics A properly configured system allows you to create statistical reports about patients, doctors, budgets, and many other things with a couple of mouse clicks. This data can be a valuable source of information for successful institution management and further development.
Support management In view of the fact that the management software is sufficiently comprehensive, the support feature will become extremely useful for both employees and patients. The helpdesk will serve the former as a basis for working with all the necessary system tools, while the latter will be able to receive continuous care, for example, in the form of automatically created personnel calendars.

Having an idea of the most mandatory features of any HMS, we should separately dwell on the advantages of management systems for healthcare facilities as a whole.

Benefits of implementing clinic management software

Automated processes

Clinics are known for their complex daily processes. The main benefit of implementing clinic management software is the work processes automation and optimization. By eliminating manual steps, the stress and workload of hospital employees decrease, productivity and collaborative processes improve so that a health facility gets a lasting competitive advantage. The released labor force allows a more flexible allocation of human resources and even saves on the number of required employees for particular tasks.

Reduced workload

Medical workers are constantly confronted with pressure, which can quickly burn them out. HMS allows reducing stress and workload by automating processes such as paperwork and inventory management — areas where staff spend a lot of time on a daily basis. Thanks to that, hospital staff become more productive and engaged.

Use of a HMS via tablet
Image 3. Use of a tablet by a hospital doctor

Reduced costs

According to statistics, more than 23% of all spending in US hospitals falls on administrative costs. Create a hospital management system, so it helps prevent some of these expenses by automating bureaucratic processes such as inventory and laboratory management, as well as patient registration. Thus, a hospital requires fewer work hours to carry out the same amount of work.

Increased customer experience

With the introduction of HMS in the hospital, the customer experience will improve by default. As a result, the processes of registration, appointments, monitoring the doctors’ schedule, obtaining test results, and much more are digitized. Separately, patients will appreciate the ability to control the billing process, including the history of payments and displayed prices for various services, as well as access to a portal via web and mobile devices.

Strategic development

Having an HMS in a clinic makes it easier to manage and direct business processes within the medical facility. This comes up from a large list of management and analysis tools that you get with HMS. They provide great support in planning and implementing strategic decisions to improve company productivity and finances. Without HMS, it becomes significantly harder to see a complete business picture and navigate in a bureaucratic fog.

Data security

In the medical field, it has long been established that those hospitals that use manual management systems are more prone to data leaks and information thefts than digital ones. A full-fledged HMS keeps all information safe from unauthorized access right up to the last kilobit. The access-control system eliminates the probability of an error that raises the chances of access to vulnerable information by an unauthorized person, which is the main reason for the widespread occurrence of HMS in recent years.

Requirements for hospital management system

To make a hospital management system software, you should clearly understand what processes you want to establish, what functions the system will support, and clearly define its users. All the determined requirements for the system are fixed in SRS (Software Requirements Specification) to achieve a common vision on the product with your vendor and lay down the optimal set of functions. Accurate estimation is also formed on an SRS basis. It can be drawn for you by a specialized company or a vendor that provides the software product on a turnkey basis.

Paper-based hospital management
Image 4. Paper-based hospital management

The HMS requirements are divided into functional and non-functional. We’ll mention here the basic ones as the list may vary and expand according to the hospital goals.

Functional requirements

  • Patient registration. The registration consists of adding patients to the system and assigning unique IDs to them, which each patient will use while in the hospital.
  • Checkout. All data is archived after patients’ discharge and saved for reuse.
  • Treatment. Allows a doctor to keep all the necessary documentation for patients’ treatment. This includes maintaining a treatment plan, managing analysis and prescriptions, storing data, and monitoring their medical history.
  • Data report generation. Report generation consists of creating and storing patient information in the form of a report, which includes the name, phone number, bed number, name of the attending physician, etc. In addition, the generation of reports on the presence/absence of free beds also applies to this requirement.
  • Billing system. Hospital billing software provides safe and reliable work with finances in the organization. It automatically generates detailed budget data and reports on in-patient, laboratory, and pharmacy services.
  • Search. The search capability allows you to quickly find the right doctors, patients, certain information about the services and work of hospitals. Using the search, patients can find out their test results, the cost of services, and the physicians’ working hours, while doctors can read the data about their patients.
  • Inventory Management. Inventory management saves an organization’s time and money by reducing staff working hours on manual work with the inventory. It also helps control the quantity and quality of available hospital resources, which allows you to plan orders for medical supplies. Thanks to the automatic search and the folder-based structure, the hospital staff can find the missing item in seconds.
  • Data reports and statistics. The system includes the availability of mandatory patient information and the ability to edit and update the data at any time.

Non-functional requirements

Non-functional requirements define the efficient operation of HMS and must specify the certain criteria the system must comply with. Let’s take them one by one:

  • Security consists of:
    • Patient identification and know your customer (KYC) mechanisms;
    • Logon ID and encrypted password;
    • Data security of incoming information must be guaranteed;
    • Roles & Permissions requirements, which are based on the idea that each user should see and do only what is allowed by the permission system, and all others should be blocked.
  • Performance includes:
    • Response time — the system response must be fast, within one second of the request;
    • Capacity — support no less than 200 concurrent users, depending on the size of the organization, and is unlimited for registration;
    • Law compliance — the system should be adapted to the legal framework of the country in which it is used.
  • For maintainability, it is worth highlighting two points:
    • Errors — the system records all errors that have occurred;
    • Back-up — the availability of automatic and on-demand backups;
    • Disaster recovery — allows you to quickly restore the code infrastructure on a new server in case of loss or theft of a working device.
  • Reliability lies in continuous accessibility of the system 24/7;
  • Responsive design — the site should work well on all devices and browsers, so you don’t have to create applications for other platforms.

Custom vs. Out-of-the-Box HMS

Disputes about the right choice between custom and out-of-the-box solutions in popularity may compete only with the question of how to create a hospital management software. We’ll cover both topics. But first, let’s dive into the benefits and shortcomings of out-of-the-box solutions.

Out-of-the-box (OOTB) benefits:

  • first of all, the cost of ready-made software solutions is traditionally lower than that of custom ones;
  • out-of-the-box software is quickly deployed. You can use the system in a pretty short time after the required installation and configuration processes;
  • you don’t have to worry about a low-quality software — this is a proven solution with a large customer base. It is distributed with QA tests by the manufacturer and support team, ready to answer any question about the product;

Even though software with out-of-the-box functionality offers convenient business management and automation of work processes, it also has disadvantages:

  • since needs vary from hospital to hospital, it is impossible to find a single solution to cover all requirements. Therefore, manufacturers aim their product to cover the most popular issues, which makes it difficult to select a solution that covers all the needs of a particular organization;
  • ready-made software allows you to save money, but you can’t do it without expenses anyway. To install and configure such a system, you will have to hire a vendor with the corresponding knowledge and expertise, not to mention the necessity of annual licensing for some solutions.

Custom benefits:

Custom hospital management system software development begins after a detailed analysis and selection of the optimal solution for a particular business. Its main advantages lay in:

  • better applicability which is provided by meticulous accounting of customer needs;
  • with a custom product, you avoid licensing expansions, which are inevitable in a turnkey alternative;
  • if you have custom software, you do not have to wait for an update hoping that necessary capabilities will appear because you decide which functionality you need and discuss the terms directly with the vendor’s development team;
  • having functionality that competitors do not have, you stand out qualitatively on the market. This, in turn, allows you to increase sales and market share.

As for the shortcomings of custom solutions, it is worth highlighting the following:

  • they have a higher initial cost being developed specifically for a particular business. However, it pays off over time since you do not need to pay for a license and you do not need to reinstall the system;
  • the speed and length of development are much longer than the purchase and installation of the out-of-the-box solutions.

Basically, the whole answer of choice between custom versus out-of-the-box solution comes down to the advice of building a product according to your business goals and project requirements. Whether you expect a quick outcome but agree to some limitations or you can afford to wait until the expenses pay off in the long run are of great importance in choosing the right solution.

Top 3 hospital management systems

If you want to develop a hospital management software, you need to know this field’s best representatives. We will highlight 3 popular hospital management systems of 2020 and consider what distinguishes them from competitors and what allows them to be in the list of the best.

  1. eHospital

  2. Since 2008, the American company Adroit Infosystems has been proposing eHospital — a complete SaaS product for medical organizations. Over 12 years, the campaign has done a great job of studying user feedback to exceed customers’ expectations.

    eHospital is considered one of the best HMS on the market among hospitals. The product is known for its high degree of customization, stable operation, reputation, and a wide list of features:

    • Inpatient and outpatient management;
    • Online appointment scheduling;
    • Portal for doctors;
    • Portal for patients;
    • Billing system;
    • Accounting;
    • Inventory control;
    • Security management.
    Interface of the eHospital clinic management system
    Image 5. Interface of the eHMS. Source: Sourceforge
  3. SoftClinic

  4. SoftClinik was established in 2002 as EHR and HMS by the Indian company JVS Group. It includes the Hospital Information System (HIS), EHR, and a portal for patients where they can store medical records. SoftClinic is available for PC, web, and mobile platforms, but for the latter, there is no official support, which is a significant drawback.

    The main SoftClinic features include:

    • Appointment Scheduling;
    • Bed Management;
    • Claims Management;
    • Inpatient and outpatient management;
    • Inventory Management;
    • Medical Billing;
    • Patient Records Management;
    • Physician Management;
    • Policy Management.
    Interface of the SoftClinic hospital management software
    Image 6. Interface of the SoftClinic HMS. Source: Softwareconnect
  5. Medstar HIS

  6. The third one from the HMS list, which came out of the digital workshop of Pinaacle Technologies, Medstar HIS, offers customers more than 50 premium modules and features that many other competitors don’t have:

    • EMR module allows storing any information on the online portal — from laboratory tests to doctors recommendations;
    • keeps billing records in compliance with industry standards;
    • advanced storage and backup facilities protect against any data loss.

Medstar HIS does not have a free trial, unlike the rest of the HMS on our list. It supports all possible platforms, and its price starts at $250 per month.

How to create a Custom Hospital Management Software?

  1. Find a vendor
  2. Prepare a Statement of Work (SoW)
  3. Make an intuitive design
  4. Follow HIPAA/HITECH rules
  5. Choose an appropriate tech stack and think over the architecture
  6. Achieve a reliable system security

Find a vendor

To create a hospital management system, you need to begin with the selection of a suitable vendor for your product. You can determine the qualifications of the software company by viewing its website and studying the portfolio. An experienced development company with similar projects under the belt and sufficient resources will be the best choice to work on your project.

Prepare a Statement of Work (SoW)

After you have contacted the software development company, pay attention to the Statement of Work formulation, where technical documentation and list of features are determined. The development team reads the SoW and creates an estimate of the project. Often at this stage, bilateral negotiations arise to clarify all the necessary points until both sides reach consensus.

Make an intuitive design

To provide a complete picture of the visual side of your software, UI/UX engineers design a hospital management system wireframes and mockups to display the future interface, which is a major part of any HMS. The interface design should be intuitive and functional for both hospital staff and patients, therefore more time has to be devoted primarily to user experience.

Responsive hospital management software design will also require the creation of a few different user interfaces for ease of use. To achieve it, you can develop an Android/iOS mobile application or build a responsive site using frameworks like Bootstrap, React, Angular, or Vue.js.

Follow HIPAA/HITECH rules

Keep in mind that before coming directly to development, you must be sure you meet numerous safety standards to properly make a hospital management system software. If we are talking about the USA, this is primarily HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)/HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) compliance.

If we consider Europe, this is first and foremost GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) laws you should obey. Obtaining certification imposes certain restrictions on software development or even penalties for violations such as huge fines and/or imprisonment.

Choose an appropriate tech stack and think over the architecture

As the HMS programming language, we recommend choosing Java or .Net. Other languages, such as Node.js, are more lightweight and may not withstand heavy loads. MySQL or PostgreSQL is suitable for the database if your solution is local and applies in one hospital. If you plan to support a certain number of hospitals at once, you should choose a more powerful technology, like Oracle. If you can’t afford Oracle, you can use PostgreSQL or any other database which supports clustering.

One of the must-have requirements for HMS is availability 24/7. To do this, use the load balancers and ensure that when you turn off a particular module, the entire system does not fall after that. The architecture of your system should be modular, and its components have to be constantly monitored.

Finally, don’t forget to have backups for restoring the system in any unexpected situation.

Achieve a reliable system security

Since the healthcare industry is characterized by a large movement of confidential information and an obligation to comply with the numerous regulations, developers should build the system with the highest possible data safety guarantee. If you can afford it, we recommend using cloud solutions such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform. If the budget is limited, it will be stored on your own computers with backups.

You can achieve system security by:

  • ensuring the creation of the strict role-based access;
  • conducting thorough QA tests to prevent data loss during hacker attacks.

Let’s look at our case study in more detail to find out how to make a hospital management software.

Healthcare Provider Portal

A year ago, a customer from Italy contacted us about the healthcare project. The idea was to develop a hospital management software — a portal for the interaction between doctors and patients.

Our developers chose Liferay DXP 7.1 as a basis for the portal. According to the hospital’s structure, 2 custom roles were created and the management system content changed depending on what role the user used. The main goal of the portal was the generation and conclusion of contracts between a doctor and patient.

We enabled its work as follows: the patient made a request for a document, filled out a special form, after which a PDF contract was automatically generated, which was viewed and signed through integration with the external library. E-signature feature provided the generation of a PDF contract. For the convenience of users, documents were sorted by signed/unsigned criteria.

Within 5 months, our team of 3 developers completed the Liferay portal creation, and the customer received a high-quality website with more than 2000 enters per day.

Technology on guard of health researches
Image 7. Technology on guard of health researches

How much does it cost to develop a hospital management system?

So, we already know how to make a hospital management software. But the question of price is no less important. The cost of any HMS is purely individual and depends on its functionality and customer requirements. We will calculate both solutions: the first similar to our Liferay case and the other one — how to build an online clinic management system from scratch.

Let’s start with the above-described Liferay Health Care Provider Portal with OOTB functionality.

Liferay case cost

Healthcare Provider Portal case contained such a list of features, on the basis of which we will evaluate the full estimate:

  • Liferay DXP 7.1;
  • Liferay customization;
  • Implementation of e-signature;
  • Role-based access control;
  • Advanced search for doctors;
  • Advanced search for patients;
  • PDF documents generation.

To implement such functionality, you will need the following development team:

  • 1 Project manager;
  • 1 UI/UX designer;
  • 2 Liferay developer;
  • 1 Frontend developer;
  • 1 QA engineer.

Liferay provides a ready-made platform with standard functionality that our developers can reuse and add the features you may need. Both Business analysis and Technical specifications will take about a week. UI/UX will require 40-50 hours to create a hospital management software design. The development phase of the portal will take about 500 hours, and 70-90 hours will be devoted to QA. Based on the set functionality and development team, we can give the following cost of such kind of project:

Stages Full-fledged solution
~580—680 hours
Business analysis 10—20
Technical specification 10—20
UI/UX 40—50
Development 450—500
QA 70—90

On the ground of the calculated development hours, you can confidently determine the cost of creating a full-fledged solution. The US and UK have the highest rates, with developers’ work priced at $80 and $70 per hour respectively. Western Europe (e.g., Germany) is distinguished by a lower price, while Eastern Europe (e.g., Ukraine) has the rates of $30 for engaging highly-qualified developers for the project.

Country Average hourly rate Full-fledged solution
~580—680
USA $80 $46 400—54 400
Western Europe (Germany) $65 $37 700—44 200
UK $70 $40 600—47 600
Eastern Europe (Ukraine) $30 $17 400—20 400

Hospital management system MVP cost

We provide an MVP estimate because a full-featured product can vary from hospital to hospital beyond recognition, depending on their goals and requirements. In this case, it is extremely difficult to determine the approximate dates and costs of development. At the same time, MVP is a web product with the minimum necessary functionality for full work. We highlight the following list of primary features for hospital management system MVP:

  • Patient registration and scheduling;
  • Patient records management;
  • Financial management;
  • Data reports and statistics;
  • Search;
  • Inventory management;
  • Supply management.

To develop a hospital management system with such a set of functionality, you will need the following team:

  • 1 Project manager;
  • 1 Tech Lead;
  • 2 Backend developers;
  • 1-2 Frontend developers;
  • 1 UI/UX engineer;
  • 2 QA engineers.

When you want to build a hospital management system, remember, it is a large-scale deal, which is already evident at the stage of Business analysis and Technical specification — often, they take more than a month. On the shoulders of UI/UX engineers lies the task of making a responsive user interface design for both patients and doctors, which takes no less than 100 hours. Frontend development takes about 400 hours on average, and the backend consumes 700-1000. To ensure optimal quality and high-level security of the system, we recommend you devote to QA tests at least 40% of the total development time.

Stages MVP hours
~1850—2500
Business analysis 140—160
Technical specification 60—100
UI/UX 400—500
Development 700—1000
QA 450—600

Based on these hours, we can determine the cost of hospital management system software development:

Country Average hourly rate MVP
~1850—2500 hours
USA $80 $148 000—200 000
Western Europe (Germany) $65 $120 250—162 500
UK $70 $129 500—175 000
Eastern Europe (Ukraine) $30 $55 500—75 000

Please note that to get the cost of a full-fledged product, you should add complementary features you may require to the MVP version given above and count the hours on their development.

Also, consider the terms for passing HIPAA/HITECH certification, which can take up to several years, depending on your organization’s type, size, and IT environment. If you want to add a mobile platform in addition to the desktop application, it will take extra time and spending.

Conclusion

More and more hospitals are transforming their business processes into digital infrastructure. The hospital management system sets in motion optimization of a healthcare organization’s workflow and data operations. Whether you want to use a ready-made solution for your hospital or build an online clinic management system from scratch, contact us to get your dream product.