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Successful Software

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BreezeTree Software

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Patrick McKenzie
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Medical software

Wanted to find out how medical  field is for ISVs  . is it too specialised,high barriers of entry  ?

much appreciate ,if members can post any experiences in medical software field .
truqos Send private email
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
I tried to get into this market and found it very difficult and found something more easier. I guess it depends on what part of healthcare you want to break into? Certain branches will be easier and cheaper to get into than others. However for the area I wanted to get into I would have needed about a team of 20 programmers and around $20 million in funding and even then I would have found it difficult. It was a hugely fiercely, competitive market with around 2-3 massive companies controlling it.
Anon
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
It's been very easy for us. Yes, there are big competitors doing similar things, but I could easily write some software on my own on a part time basis that these big companies had been trying for years to do. What you'll find a lot in this industry is that the big players don't really have a clue, and you'll be shocked at how bad the existing solutions are. Not all niches are as easy to get into, but there should be plenty of stuff to look at.
sloop Send private email
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
If your software in any way could damage someone's health from getting something wrong it's "critical", which opens a whole new world of hurt when it comes to testing and development.

The usual disclaimers about not necessarily being fit for any particular purpose don't cut it when dealing with human health. More to the point the big contracts such as with states or health authorities will usually demand such mission-critical testing. So, for that matter, may individual doctors for their insurance.

Overall I'd say tread very carefully and get a professional worded disclaimer if your sw even comes close to the technical equalivant of "medical advice" - which it will be if crunching medical data and giving results.

You also face issues of protecting patient's confidential data, especially in Europe.

None of all that means the market is closed, just be careful. You might want to take a very close look at disclaimers and any certification of existing applications for clues.



A.
Adam Send private email
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
You can be in the healthcare market without touching patient data or being mission critical. As said above, current solutions are abysmal so there are definitely opportunities. Overall it will depend on what kind of product you have.
Oliver Send private email
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
Be carefull of being overly-cautious.  The healthcare industry is huge...there are tons of places where software is needed and used that does not put patients "lives at risk" when it fails.

My full time job is with a company that plugs in to, and helps with, the revenue cycle (helping hospitals make sure they get paid).  It makes hundreds of millions of dollars per year in the "Health Care" space, and operates very far away from affecting peoples lives directly.

You do need to be well versed in the issues relating to privacy and security...but you should be doing that anyway as a programmer - regardless if it is in healthcare or not.

The processes in healthcare are broken in so many ways, there is tons of oportunity for ISV's to flourish without going near life-critical systems...
Grant Porteous Send private email
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
Grant is 100% correct. There's tons of money to be made in areas that don't require any special consideration other than protecting patient data.
sloop Send private email
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
> areas that don't require any special consideration other than protecting patient data.

I think you can even make money in areas that don't even require you to deal with patient data in any way. It's a more restricted field, but it's a lot easier not to deal with HIPAA when you're alone. (Although I never tried to do anything that required HIPAA compliance, maybe it's not that hard?)
Oliver Send private email
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
Dealing with HIPAA is tons easier than dealing with UL and FDA compliance.

But yeah, there are lots of aspects of healthcare software which doesn't require stringent development processes.

- billing
- supply & logistics
- scheduling
- workflow
- utilization/optimization

If you can help a hospital better utilize their resources (operating rooms, patient rooms, expensive equipment), or decrease the amount of time needed for them to get paid, you'll save them millions.
xampl
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
The UK government will pay you $40 billion dollars for what looks to be a CRUD database. Albeit with hardware and scale issues. I wonder if 5 smart guys from Google couldn't have done the job better for < $1 million.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Programme_for_IT
Andy Brice Send private email
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
As was said before, the key is to stay away from areas needing HIPAA or FDA compliance. My area of expertise requires FDA (and analogs in other countries) compliance and it is time consuming and expensive.

I think the problem is finding out whether or not you do need to comply though. I have it on very good authority that there are many companies selling software that would be classified as a medical device but they don't realize it and they are only getting away with it because they don't (yet) show up on FDA's radar. Just understanding the regs can be tricky business.

Healthcare is a *massive* field. Look hard enough and you will find a way to compete. Even if you end up in an area that does require compliance, the big players are so slow and inefficient that a well-funded and agile entry could make a ton of $$$.
farmboy Send private email
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
ps,
I second what sloop said. A lot of the existing software is really crappy and there is plenty of room for improvement.

Did you have a specific area in mind? Check out this guy's blog: http://meddevice.blogspot.com/
Perhaps some of the links may be helpful.
farmboy Send private email
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
I have got to stop hitting OK so soon :-)
But I really needed to comment on this:

"Overall I'd say tread very carefully and get a professional worded disclaimer if your sw even comes close to the technical equalivant of "medical advice""

A disclaimer is simply not enough. Software that does the above meets the definition of "medical device" and you will need FDA (in the USA) approval before you can offer it for sale or be prepared for the US Marshals at your door.
farmboy Send private email
Saturday, August 02, 2008
 
 
I keep reading (not just here but many places) all sorts of general comments about medical software being ripe for the picking.  Yet, I never hear any specifics.  So much of the medical software industry seems to be owned by GE and a few other big bad corps I just don't see the openings.

So can people comment on which specific areas in medical software are in need of solutions?
Forgive Me I know Not of Med SW Much
Sunday, August 03, 2008
 
 
I refer you to my above post.
xampl
Sunday, August 03, 2008
 
 
THe Health care industry is where the automotive industry was 10 years ago IT wise.

Our accounting application has medical billing modules which is a total nightmare; especially with the insurance companies that are involved.

If I had it to do over again, I'd be turning down these deals knowing what I know now.  Said differently, the money is dam good but the headaches are endless and I sometimes wonder if it's worth it.  Fortunately, we only have two major clients in this market. 99% of the problem, at least with medical billing, is that insurance companies don't want you to know what they're up too.

My perspective from a medical accounting/billing experience.
~Eric
Monday, August 04, 2008
 
 
>>
is that insurance companies don't want you to know what they're up too.
>>

I am scared - really. What are they upto?
GT
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
 
 
> I am scared - really. What are they upto?

They're taking tons of your money and are using these resources to come up with reasons not to cover you the moment you sneeze funny.
Oliver Send private email
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
 
 
A few years ago, BCBS of NC was caught placing an order for 60+ Mercedes for their executives.  A little egregious for a non-profit, eh?
xampl
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
 
 
> But yeah, there are lots of aspects of healthcare
> software which doesn't require stringent development
> processes.

> - billing
> - supply & logistics
> - scheduling
> - workflow

xampl, I find it tough to believe that non-trivial workflow applications would not require compliance with HIPAA and clinical-data regulations.
Jeff Hall
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
 
 
> I find it tough to believe that non-trivial workflow applications would not require compliance with HIPAA and clinical-data regulations.

This is another cool thing about the healthcare market: people typically assume you need compliance with X or Y before doing the research. In other words there are perceived barriers to entry which may or may not be real depending on the product. But the fact that people on the outside perceive them serves to eliminate some percentage of your would-be competition before they even get started.
Oliver Send private email
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
 
 

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