Digitizing Healthcare: Should You Build or Buy Software?

Do It Yourself software development or the plug & play convenience of working with a dependable SaaS (Software As A Service) partner? From the production laboratory angle, the complexity of building software and the rapid depreciation of its value is often underestimated. A Hydra that lurks just around the corner for the unwary enthusiast.

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Building software in-house might give you ownership over a more tailored product. The exorbitant costs involved in building such a platform mixed with its limited lifecycle, however, makes a software partnership an interesting alternative.

The build or buy question is one that should be staged early on. With growing demands for allied health services in Australia and the greater APAC region, opportunity abounds for growth as a business. Our research indicates that the effective submission, fulfillment and transparent end-to-end management of prescriptions is crucial to coping with current volumes - but how to future-proof your business? How will you separate yourself from competition in an increasingly crowded market landscape? The digitization of the prescription, submission and fulfillment journey for clinicians is proving to be a great way to make your services more “sticky”.

Historically, many production laboratories have relied on average and fragmented incumbent software solutions. Others headed down the perilous Do It Yourself development path. Single developers or contractors are hired, endless meetings take place and there is plenty of blood, sweat, tears, time and capital injected into the project. Dawn breaks 6 months later on the launch date. The developer rides off into the sunset after being paid handsomely for their hard work. Congratulations! Unless these developers are now full-time employees, you’ve just voluntarily created a $100,000 software platform that will be outdated in six to twelve months.

There is a direct correlation between limiting the functionality of your platform - i.e. reducing your budget - and error rates. Damages could easily start stacking up. Rising returned orders, lower order rates, eroded client loyalty and unforeseen costs wrecking budgets and forecasts. The most important person in this whole workflow - the patient - could be left waiting and waiting for their devices to be produced.

Another solution to the development conundrum is going down the path of buying a “next gen” SaaS solution. Some key advantages include:

  • The hard yards of development work has been done.

  • A team working 24/7 ensuring your critical business platform is continually up to date

  • Patient data is secure

  • Your staffing and production costs are reduced - by a factor of up to 20 times.

The downside? Well, there is no physical ownership of the software. You’re relying on a 3rd party to do the heavy lifting for you and there is an upfront cost. That being said, building software that truly addresses your challenges will require over US$21,000 in monthly development salaries. Aside from the complications of managing a technology team, amortizing those monthly costs over your produced orders might prove to be challenging for any SME.

SaaS partnerships will always be in front in terms of cost savings - not to mention stress & time too. Most importantly, your business returns to doing what it does best - producing premium bespoke orthotic products - without the expensive foray into the software development rabbit hole.

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