Navigating Healthcare Software Architecture: A Guide

To develop any software, it is important to consider the design and architecture. This will give your idea a solid foundation. Defining an outlier layer will keep you more focused on the needs of what goes on within the software. 

After you’ve decided which features to include in your product, you’ll need to decide on the technology and architecture you’ll use. The architecture is the glue that will hold all your technology decisions together, so it’s important to be thoughtful about this choice.

Several requirements will help you decide the structure to pick for your system design and others that are less subsequent in the context of software architecture. Primarily, it indicates what you want and expects from your product. 

In the context of requirements, there are functional and non-functional requirements. The functional requirement is what the product must do, while the non-functional requirement is everything else that doesn’t fit into that category.

Functional vs Nonfunctional requirements of a project
Functional vs Nonfunctional Requirements

When discussing architectural drivers and trade-offs that come with different design decisions, it can be helpful to consider them in the following four groups; 

  1. Technical constraints 
  2. Business constraints 
  3. Quality attributes
  4. Functional requirements

1. Technical Constraints

These are the technical decisions that must be satisfied in the architecture. The technical constraints, such as programming languages, frameworks, and tech stack are fixed from the beginning of the project. They cannot be changed as the project progresses.

2. Business Constraints

Just like technical constraints, business constraints are generally set in stone and greatly impact the decisions made during the design process. Once put in place, they are usually considered unchangeable. An example of a business constraint might be a deadline or a budget related to the project. 

3. Quality Attributes

Many things go into making a software system function well. These criteria, called quality attributes, help judge how well a system performs its functions. The quality attributes should always be measurable and specific as precisely as possible, looking no room for any changes. 

4. Functional Requirements

It’s always beneficial to have an overview of what the system is supposed to do before diving into the specifics. This is where high-level functional requirements come in. And while quality attributes might determine the specific structures you choose, it’s important to remember that the ultimate goal is to build something functional.

Hypothesis

When it’s ready to get your product out there, you want to do it as quickly as possible. All you care about is that it works well enough, without any errors or glitches, and can handle a decent amount of traffic. For most people, that means a few thousand users at most.

Architectural Needs Of Healthcare Software at hypothesis stage
Architectural Needs of Healthcare Software at the Hypothesis Stage

Growth

You see that your product is starting to take off, and you want to add more features to keep up with the demand. At this point, you need to ensure that your architecture can handle the increased traffic and workload. Modularity will be important so that you can add new features without affecting the stability of your product. 

Architectural Needs Of A Healthcare Software at growth stage
Architectural Needs of Healthcare Software at the Growth Stage

Establishment

As your company grows and you achieve more paying customers, you’ll need to establish more systems and processes. This includes creating a product roadmap that outlines what you want to achieve in the next few years. Your architecture will also need to be designed to accommodate this growth and manage all of your data effectively.

Architectural needs of established healthcare software
Architectural Needs of Established Healthcare Software

No time to read the full blog, watch this video on “How to select the right software architecture for your healthcare product?” 👇

Architecture for each Phase of your Product that you can use Right Away 

🔸 Architecture for Healthcare MVP

This stage is about the bare minimum. The goal is to create a basic setup that covers only the essentials. You can focus on speed and saving costs by keeping the architecture minimal.

Architecture can start with base features and move to alpha and beta releases. In the world of software development, this is often seen as the traditional release cycle.

✔️ Alpha Release

Before a feature is completed, there is an alpha release where it is made available to testers who can test the initial phase of the feature. This allows any possible issues or bugs to be ironed out before the full release. Open source products often utilize alpha releases.

Alpha release in healthcare software MVP
Alpha Release in Healthcare Software MVP

✔️ Beta Release 

The beta release is when the product is finished being developed, but there is a chance that it might have some bugs. This release is for users who test the product and report any bugs. The UAT (User Acceptance Testing) phase could be considered a Beta release.

Beta release in healthcare software MVP
Beta Release in Healthcare Software MVP

🔸 Healthcare Software Architecture for Growth Stage

At this stage, product managers should be focused on creating a solid foundation for their project. This means modularity and layering are key to success. As users evolve and new features are needed, the project will be able to grow without issue.

A successful healthcare software architecture will have a few key characteristics. It should be loosely coupled, meaning that different parts of the system can work together without depending on each other too much. It should also be highly cohesive, meaning that the different parts of the system work well together. And finally, it should be modular, meaning that new features can be added and removed as required without affecting the rest of the system.

Blue green deployments approach
Blue Green Deployments Approach for Growth Stage
Canary deployments approach
Canary Deployments Approach for Growth Stage

🔸 Healthcare Software Architecture for Scale

Architecture that can handle heavy traffic and data is essential for “proper scalable architecture.” The focus is always on creating efficiencies and scale. You have to think about load balancing, concurrency, availability, etc.

It’s essential to remember that if you don’t regret your early technology decisions, you probably over-engineered them. Rearchitecting is usually a sign of success; if you never need to do it, you were overbuilt originally, or nobody cares about your product.

Many different types of architecture can be used for a project. The decision on which one to use should be based on various factors, including cost, operational efficiency, and the types of services offered by the cloud provider.

Monolithic architecture
Monolithic Architecture
Microservices architecture
Microservices Architecture

🔸 Security and Compliance Architecture for Healthcare Software

As we discussed above, security and compliance, we will now discuss the AWS level and its different elements for healthcare products

Security architecture is a lot like a blueprint for a house. It outlines the security principles, methods, and models that will be used to keep the organization safe from cyber threats. Security architecture takes the business requirements and translates them into executable security requirements.

security and compliance architecture for healthcare software
Security & Compliance Architecture for Healthcare Software

There were a few healthcare projects in the past where a lot of time and effort was put in, but they never made it to production. This can be a huge loss for the implementation team and business. To avoid this, we must ensure that all the steps are followed properly.

First, the properties should agree with the cloud provider from the customer end point of view. We should provide the data-related classification to the cloud provider and then as a whole AWS.

To ensure the data complex is not violated, AWS has numerous services, and it is the responsibility of the application team or the product owner team to utilize compliance services and follow the complex features. 

Other than that, your authentication and authorization mechanisms play an important role in your HIPAA-eligible system. They should be well-documented and included in your System Security Plan (SSP). Your SSP should detail all roles and responsibilities, along with a configuration control process that specifies initiation, approval, change, and acceptance processes for all change requests.

Related read: How to Become HIPAA Compliant?

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Conclusion

We have learned many factors to consider while choosing the right software architecture and design for your healthcare product.  You need to consider several factors to provide the best user experience possible. These include the size of your product, the experience you are trying to create, the level of customization built into your product, and the different platforms you will use to deliver your product. We hope this article has helped you understand the various healthcare software architecture options available. You can also watch our webinar on choosing the right software architecture for your healthcare product.

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