By Alan Stein, Chief Commercial Officer of HealthEdge, shortlisted for the Best Product for Healthcare category at The SaaS Awards 2022 

As SaaS continues to gain popularity, the benefits and data to support integration speak for themselves

It is no surprise that the healthcare industry has catching up to do when it comes to administration and coordination advancements. The complexity and historically antiquated and siloed aspect of the healthcare industry produces a need for technology to better serve organizations and patients alike.

In terms of innovation, software as a service (SaaS) has taken the healthcare industry by storm. The state of SaaS in the healthcare sector within the last few years has seen tremendous growth. According to a recent Gartner report, SaaS still dominates one of the biggest market segments amongst cloud services and reached $176.6 billion in end-user spending in 2022.

SaaS is a highly dependable method for enhancing the patient experience, alongside companies’ growth and value. The subscription-based model that is offered by SaaS has several advantages for healthcare, including:

  • Cheaper initial costs;
  • Elimination of maintenance expenses;
  • Increased levels of security;
  • Immediate implementation of newly developed features.

Cost Savings For The Bottom Line

A recent Kaufman Hall report showed that hospitals have experienced seven straight months of negative operating margins, seeing a median operating margin of -0.98 percent through July 2022. While health insurance companies must always keep their finances and bottom lines in mind, as they continue to feel the effects of the pandemic in the coming months they must get creative in identifying new tools to help cost savings.

For organizations looking to improve their infrastructure and digitize their environment, SaaS requires less development and hands-on maintenance because it is not up to the organization to invest in on-site developers to manage SaaS applications. Insurance companies don’t need to purchase hardware such as servers or the software required to build and support the applications. Most SaaS-based tools have a monthly subscription fee, so the costs are based on what resources are being used and can be adjusted as needed, meaning much more stable and predictable costs.

Scalability To Fit Businesses

Cloud solutions are built and designed to provide flexibility and accessibility, especially within a fast-growing organization, offering the ability to adapt to digital transformation and the capacity to easily cope with peaks in activity. With SaaS applications, you can continuously adjust to meet the needs of the users, making it possible to achieve gains in productivity and creating value that goes far beyond the savings made during deployment.

Similarly, data can be imported in a way that is best fit for the user’s needs. In turn, dashboards can be configured in the most personalized manner. Healthcare professionals can transfer all of their data over to a centralized data center and scale it as needed without worrying about adding new servers to their on-site infrastructure.

Easy Integration

Many health insurance organizations might have concerns about the undertaking of deploying a SaaS program, including the time commitment. However, speed of deployment allows organizations to stay focused on their primary business as legacy systems can be integrated seamlessly.

A 2019 Spok survey by College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME) members uncovered insight on how health system organizations manage SaaS deployments and found that overall, most respondents (68%) say SaaS deployments went ‘as they expected’. That same survey also found 58% less operational downtime, 66% workflow improvements, 52% better uptime reliability, and 65% user satisfaction.

Paving A Path Forward

We know that SaaS has gained significant traction in the healthcare industry, and given the concrete, data-backed benefits it provides, SaaS adoption is likely to continue rising. As the popularity grows and the benefits are further realized, there are several advancements that could aid in this expansion, along with expected trends, one of which is vertical SaaS. This means organizations can lean into the possibility of targeting clients through customization within specific supply chains and industries, allowing them to integrate predetermined KPIs, metrics, and analytics that can help them track and manage long-term performance goals.

When it comes to data governance, vertical SaaS can help organizations stick to data governance procedures and compliance abilities, which can increase transparency. In 2023 and beyond, vertical SaaS will help healthcare organizations provide higher quality services in specific industries, setting them apart from others with differentiators.

AI and ML for Healthcare

Another trend expected to continue growing in the healthcare industry is artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). The implementation of AI and ML has had a transformative impact on the delivery of healthcare. AI and ML tools can conveniently analyze enormous volumes of data, draw conclusions based on that data and make predictions with a high degree of precision which can in turn improve internal collaboration. AI automation can help organizations detect potential threats more quickly. Internal processes can be sped up using AI-enabled SaaS, allowing companies to:

  • Improve their overall responsiveness levels
  • Make immediate forecasts
  • Find answers to questions quickly.

API for Healthcare

A third expected trend includes Application Programming Interface (API) connectivity. As the popularity of SaaS has grown, so has the need for integration with legacy systems, with more than 85% of IT organizations having embraced AI innovations. APIs offer interoperability between different healthcare internal applications like electronic health records and other data sources consolidated into a single source. A recent 2021 KLAS-CHIME whitepaper said that “The use of APIs offers new ways to facilitate data exchange in service of myriad use cases.”

As the demand for healthcare SaaS rises, so does the need to link these services to the many business systems that are currently in use across health systems. Other companies make the decision to totally shift their data to a new cloud platform, while others opt to integrate their data with their existing infrastructure. That being said, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to data integration. As a direct result of this reality, a significant number of healthcare organizations are dependent on SaaS suppliers to deliver superior integration capabilities.

A Digital Transformation Journey

Especially as we come out on the other side of the pandemic with overburdened health systems facing staffing shortages, combined with most systems still not taking full advantage of digital technologies, SaaS is a solution to start the digital transformation journey to provide quality care.

SaaS and automated technology alike can support existing staff and help ease the burden of shortages by addressing manual administrative tasks, so healthcare workers can focus on what matters most: delivering quality and potentially lifesaving care to their patients.