I’ve spent a lot of valuable time reading and learning how to become a rockstar developer from people like Fred Brooks and Jeff Atwood, but no one has really written a guide about how to be a rockstar healthcare developer.
This post will be my quick hits on what is different about developing in the healthcare space and what Redox can help with.
1. Don’t Let HIPAA Paralyze You
Okay, well yeah, HIPAA is a little scary, but it’s not some form of arcana. Actually, the technical requirements beyond what you’d typically implement in any well-crafted application are fairly straightforward: 1) audit everything—any CRUD action needs to be logged along with the user, specific type of content, and timestamp; 2) implement inactivity logouts—clinicians are busy and can walk away from workstations in the proximity of patients.
If you’re a rockstar developer, you already have a good understanding of application security and infrastructure security. If not, start with the OWASP Top 10 and learn!
2. Understand What Workflows Are, Then Disrupt Them
You might know the term “workflow”, but how much time have you actually spent on the floor of a hospital following users around with your product? Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you understand how they worked on paper?
- Do you understand their pain points right now?
- Do you understand the physical space (where are the computers, where are the patients?)
Knowing and understanding all of these are essential to designing the best possible product. These should be fairly obvious to rockstar developer, but they take on a special, more nuanced meaning when designing products for clinicians. Remember, most of the people you design for in healthcare are focused on human beings and not the tools they are using.
3. Your Users Went to School Longer Than You Did
Pretty much anyone in healthcare is going to smell BS from a mile away, and in more ways than you might think. Whether you’re shadowing or selling, keep these things in mind:
- Ask questions honestly
Building a good rapport with people you interact with can lead to some really amazing and unexpected insights into how to make a better product. Being a know-it-all will likely get you nowhere.
Also—don’t forget that the expectations and pressure put on clinicians are both extremely high. Mess up, and people die. Get it right 99% of time, and people still die. They expect the same level of precision from you and your software.
4. You Don’t Connect to EHRs, You Connect to Health Systems
This is one of the more daunting things about developing for healthcare. You might start by checking out some API documents and feel pretty OK about all of it. Then once you realize the other moving parts required to bring your product to fruition, reality sets in: you are thrust into a world of project managers, scope documents, and security reviews. What happened to that clean little API on the website?
Basically, each health system you connect to is its own little fiefdom, and each is going to bring its own set of new up-front requirements, plus different technical back-ends that you need to normalize and harmonize.
This is part of the reason we started Redox: we saw a way to take this vast discrepancy in the way healthcare is stored and simplify it. From the project management and paperwork, to the connection infrastructure, we’ve solved some main problems so you don’t have to.
5. Integration is Everything
This one may sound self-serving, but it’s true. Your product will only be successful if it integrates within your user’s workflows. Most of the time, this means EHR integration. Think about it: health systems spend millions (sometimes billions) of dollars to implement EHRs. No matter what you build, you are not going to disrupt that this year. Focus on making a really solid product and Redox will make it work seamlessly with the EHR.
One of the best things about working at Redox is seeing so many awesome applications being created, and actually being able to solve real-world problems for them at scale. If you’re a rockstar developer, get in touch with us we’ll work towards creating a custom integration strategy kit.