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A Complete Guide on SaaS for Healthcare Industry

healthcare-saas
Technology has expanded drastically in the last few years. The healthcare industry is actively adopting new technological innovations to provide better care to their patients and improve their internal procedures.

Running a healthcare institution is costly. People who own and run a healthcare institution are directly responsible for their patients’ and staff’s well-being. They need to adopt all the possible means to ensure that their patient experiences are superior and their staff has a smooth workflow. Hence, they are always looking for methods to improve operational efficiency without spending hefty amounts of money. The SaaS model thus turns out to be of great help to healthcare institutes.

SaaS stands for Software As A Service. Gartner, Inc. defines SaaS as ” A software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at any time on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription-based on use metrics.”

In simple words, it is a subscription-based model of software licensing and delivery. In healthcare, SaaS can provide numerous benefits as it can have multiple applications. Let’s take a look at the various benefits it has to offer.

Let’s begin by understanding the meaning of SaaS For Healthcare.

What are the benefits of SaaS in the Healthcare Industry?

SaaS in the Healthcare Industry has the following benefits:

  1. It is cost-effective.
  2. It is secure.
  3. It is scalable.
  4. It facilitates easy and quick back-ups.
  5. It allows real-time updates.
  6. It increases accessibility.
  7. It offers fast and better upgrades.

Let’s discuss these benefits in detail.

benefits of saas in healthcare

Cost-Effective

Healthcare technologies are expensive, and as the healthcare industry deals with very sensitive information, it cannot compromise on efficient features just for the sake of saving a little money. However, with SaaS, healthcare institutes get an economical solution as they don’t have to bear any:

  • maintenance costs
  • set up costs as heavy hardware set up is not required
  • upgradation costs
  • heavy initial investments

Security

With SaaS applications, medical institutions can access multiple security features to keep the patient data secure. Also, there are several compliances and standards like HIPAA, which are ensured to keep private health information and sensitive data safe.

Scalability

SaaS applications are highly scalable as they are usually cloud-based. Hence, the medical institutions don’t have to worry about scalability as they can quickly scale their applications up or down, depending on their business’ growth..

Back-ups

One of the most significant benefits of SaaS applications is regular back-ups. With on-site data servers, the institute is responsible for all back-ups and is under the constant risk of losing all data in case the servers crash. However, this is not the case with SaaS applications as they continuously back up all data. So, in case of any problems, all medical data can be easily retrieved.

Real-Time Updates

With SaaS applications, healthcare institutes can ensure that they have accurate information at all times, as it facilitates real-time updates. It means all the specialists involved in a patient’s case can collaborate on his records and share regular updates. Every specialist will have the latest updated information, which will help them provide better care.

Accessibility

With SaaS applications, authorized users can access information from anywhere, at any time. It is especially important as doctors can consult with each other regarding a patient’s case from remote locations. Patients and doctors can also communicate easily without worrying about accessing the latest records.

Now that you are aware of the benefits SaaS in Healthcare offers, let’s take a look at how you can ensure HIPAA compliance in your SaaS application.

Checklist for HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA compliance is one of the most important aspects of using any electronic medium to exchange patients’ private health care information, including SaaS. However, healthcare institutes often fail to comply with HIPAA properly, leading to hefty fines for them. Here, we have listed and explained four points you must keep in mind while ensuring HIPAA compliance for your SaaS platform:

  1. Find all applications in your healthcare organization that contain private health information
  2. Review all contracts
  3. Set compliance standards
  4. Conduct audits

Let’s discuss them in detail.

Find All Applications That Contain Private Health Information

Many departments buy or implement new software in large healthcare institutions without consulting their IT department or any other healthcare consulting company, leading to “Shadow IT.” Due to the healthcare industry’s sensitive nature, the implications of shadow IT can be tragic.

There might be many departments in your healthcare organization using SaaS applications containing electronic protected health information (ePHI). You should first find out all such applications being used in your healthcare organization and ensure that they are HIPAA compliant.

It is essential to ensure that any SaaS application used in a healthcare institute is HIPAA compliant to maintain patient data privacy and security.

Review All Contracts

Many SaaS applications in the market aren’t fit to comply with HIPAA standards. Hence, before transferring your system entirely to a SaaS application, ensure that you go through all contracts properly to ensure HIPAA compliance.

Make sure that you have signed the HIPAA-compliant Business Associate Agreement (BAA) or contract. The HIPAA BAA is responsible for:

  • setting permitted uses of electronic protected health information
  • setting permitted disclosures of electronic protected health information
  • ensuring the security of all healthcare information

You must also go through the breach notification obligations and emergency clauses in such contracts to ensure that you do not leave any loopholes unattended concerning HIPAA compliance.

Set Compliance Standards

For cloud-based healthcare apps or SaaS applications, you should set standards like:

  • GDPR
  • SNOMED CT
  • DICOM, etc.

These standards are not exchangeable with HIPAA compliance. However, they help to:

  • ensure utmost security
  • ensure supreme privacy
  • create enhanced auditing efficiencies to outline compliance goals

According to HIPAA compliance, all electronic protected health information should be encrypted to NIST standards if stored in cloud-based or SaaS applications. However, encryption can sometimes prove to not:

  • provide adequate protection to private health information
  • keep it entirely confidential

There are many additional, country-specific compliance standards. By complying your SaaS application with such standards according to your geographical area, you can ensure that your confidential patient data is entirely secure and private.

Conduct Audits

Under HIPAA compliance, audit controls are essential to:

  • monitor access attempts to electronic protected health information
  • record the usage of information

Many times, healthcare institutes fail to conduct regular audits, leading to hefty fines even if no electronic protected health information breach has occurred. You should perform risk analysis in the SaaS application concerning NIST guidelines to ensure that you can:

  • examine breaches
  • implement all security measures
  • maintain cybersecurity protection

You must outline all necessary requirements while moving your procedures to a SaaS platform or application. You must ensure that you sign the right contracts, correctly follow all HIPAA guidelines, and conduct regular audits to provide high-level data safety measures to your patients.

Now let’s look into the upcoming trends in Healthcare SaaS.

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Author’s Bio

Akash Takyar
Akash Takyar
CEO LeewayHertz
Akash Takyar is the founder and CEO at LeewayHertz. The experience of building over 100+ platforms for startups and enterprises allows Akash to rapidly architect and design solutions that are scalable and beautiful.
Akash's ability to build enterprise-grade technology solutions has attracted over 30 Fortune 500 companies, including Siemens, 3M, P&G and Hershey’s. Akash is an early adopter of new technology, a passionate technology enthusiast, and an investor in AI and IoT startups.

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