The healthcare industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few decades. The paper-loaded clinics and hospitals have been replaced by tech-savvy smart data applications that extend themselves to more agile hospital management systems. Data lies at the key of the healthcare industry and is considered the true treasure of the trove. However, this data needs to be easily accessible and adhere to the relevant security protocols. This is where DevOps in healthcare weighs in. It is the answer to gaining a competitive edge through responsive, data-driven, and superior care-giving.
Traditional SDLC and its Barriers:
The hindrances with traditional healthcare software development, whether it is the Waterfall, V, or RUP model, is lacking with the agility toward today’s business needs. Higher costs with lower productivity, lack of flexibility, and accessibility to data are the common backdrops of the traditional software delivery lifecycle method. Implementation of DevOps is an efficient way to combat the inadequacies through custom healthcare software development.
What is DevOps?
DevOps is the expertise of the merger of agile infrastructure and operational excellence. Healthcare software developers collaborate to create a process of operations and development for better efficiency and agility into the entire lifecycle to provide integrated care solutions. DevOps for healthcare is a qualitative integration of software development with operational efficiency. It is an extension of Agile technology toward the overall operations of custom healthcare solutions.
Traditional IT and DevOps – Key Differences:
- Rigidity Vs. Flexibility: Traditional healthcare IT solutions go through a rigid lifecycle from the development of the software, testing, Q & A, staging, delivery, and finally, feedback. DevOps in healthcare focus keenly on the value of development and delivery for value creation and risk mitigation.
- Macro Vs. Micro: Traditional healthcare software solutions focused on a big project release that involves high costs and occurs infrequently. In contrast, DevOps and healthcare adopt a micro approach, avoiding complex releases and mitigating risks for gradual advancement at regular intervals with lower risks.
- Data Monitoring Vs. Data Sharing: Traditional healthcare IT solutions have a cumbersome data sharing process due to management approvals and lengthy reports. DevOps and healthcare solutions have a dedicated data sharing team to reduce management time wastage and provides relevant data to the specific team.
Step-by-step Guide to Implement DevOps in Healthcare:
Step 1 – Continuous planning:
Examine the development and operational activities to modify them towards the implementation of DevOps. Financial implications of development and required human resources must be planned during this phase.
Step 2 – Code repository with version control:
Ensure a version control system, which is an essential requirement for developers to coordinate and control coding. Every custom healthcare solution code repository can be tracked, along with the changes applied. Healthcare application development with DevOps should provide developers with an offline copy of the code repository, along with every change recorded on the main server.
Step 3 – Continuous Integration (CI):
Focus on continually merging changes in the code to the central repository, before building and testing. Deploy CI tools toward the efficient management of the healthcare application development to ensure the accuracy of the configuration and integration. CI assists with the automation of software updates and cross-departmental integration of data.
Step 4 – Automated Build:
Bring automation toward integrated care solutions, wherein scripting and automated retrieval of the code are deployed. This recovery should be enabled from the code repository and is then compiled into a binary artifact to allow for periodic testing.
Step 5 – Automated Release through Continuous Deployment (CD):
This step toward delivery and deployment of custom medical solutions involves the delivery of the software and regular updates in an automated and continual fashion. CD is a process that ensures any time release of the custom healthcare solutions through regular updates to the production.
Step 6 – Constant feedback and monitoring:
This final step is the deployment of DevOps is the key to sustainability. Adopt continuous monitoring to ensure that healthcare software development applications are performing at an optimal level. A micro approach should be adopted to look into every small detail and seeks feedback at regular intervals through self-monitoring analytics that gathers data in an automated fashion.
DevOps in Healthcare Best Practices :
Understand the collaboration and shared tools strategy for the Dev, QA, and infrastructure automation teams:
The DevOps team needs to be on the same page about development, testing, and deployment. Implementing common collaboration tools for healthcare product development is a must. A collaborative approach to include processes, communication, development, integration, testing, and operations towards automation ensures streamlined movement.
Use tools to capture every request:
Adopt the stringent systems, wherein the processes of DevOps development and tooling modification is automatically captured. Change requests are automated to adapt to performance through the entire spectrum of development and operations. Ex. Healthcare payer solutions modification is captured and adapted throughout the system for administrative convenience.
Use agile Kanban project management for automation and DevOps requests:
The Kanban framework is an intelligent tool that undertakes comparative analytics between the potential requirements of the project and the capacity of the team towards the same. This allows the development team to plan more efficiently, provide quicker turnaround, and overall transparency through the entire development cycle.
Use tools to log metrics on both manual and automated processes:
The selection of tools that will boost the productivity of the DevOps process is dependent on the clear definition of metrics. These tools offer powerful automation techniques to correct and modify errors with minimal to no human involvement.
Implement test automation and test data provisioning tooling:
Test automation is the ability of the automated system to apply to test on code and data, at regular intervals, for qualitative assessment of the overall operational ability of the software. The numerous tests that are applied in this automated fashion to diagnose the quality of the code and allow the development team to gauge its efficiency.
Perform acceptance tests for each deployment tooling:
A clear definition of the acceptance tests that need to be undertaken for each deployment is a critical step toward success. The details of the testing include the level of required efficiency of the software, along with the parameters of testing. Evolutionary modification provisions should be enabled for future compliance requirements.
Ensure continuous feedback between the teams to spot gaps, issues, and inefficiencies:
Consistent feedback is a crucial parameter to assess efficiency levels. Automated communication between development teams and users, mechanisms for tracking issues, and flagging of errors for corrections can reduce inefficiencies. Finally, a report on whether the modifications resolved the error is highly essential.
Establish a DevOps Community of Practice (CoP):
This is the platform that allows for consistent contribution and improvement action to the DevOps function. It also creates an environment that promotes Q&As, increases familiarity with the project and its workings.
Benefits of Implementing DevOps in Healthcare:
From faster delivery to higher quality, the benefits of DevOps in healthcare are many. Listed below are the key ones:
- Reduced OPEX: Operational expenses are considerably reduced since there are no initial investments in purchases and training, along with reduced operational resources.
- Improved Infrastructure Efficiency: The ease of accessibility to resources and data, along with automation, improves the overall efficiency of the infrastructure. DevOps provides integrated healthcare solutions through higher-quality infrastructure.
- Enhanced Data Leveraging: The architecture of DevOps ensures that easy accessibility through applications is in close range to patients and administration. Data is leveraged across multiple departments and platforms for multi-purpose usage to provide integrated healthcare solutions.
- Superior Regulatory Compliance and Data Security: When infrastructure is implemented as code, the level of security is automatically superior. Server security and hacker protection are provided according to the highest standards, ensuring the protection of data and stringent compliance adherence through risk mitigation.
- Automated Daily Routine Tasks: This allows healthcare organizations to address and satisfy patient requests and deliver value care through higher business agility.
- Increased Patient Engagement and Satisfaction: The DevOps tools are designed to minimize time and effort toward patient engagement, through check-in systems, etc. It further increases overall satisfaction through CI and CD tools for appointment scheduling, patient security, etc.
- Strengthened Competitive Advantage: Within the healthcare innovation domain, time-to-market has always been a great challenge. Automation processes for infrastructure management cut back on the development time, along with quality risk mitigation and enhanced flexibility that differentiates the organization from its competitors.
DevOps as a Service:
Success Factors of DevOps:
Continuous Integration (CI):
Continually collate and incorporate source code updates and modifications onto a common platform
Avoiding conflicts and disruptions
Mitigate the possibility of failures to code changes through constant merging and monitoring.
Code changes are automated pushed for release into production. Automate testing procedures to verify updates across various platforms before its release.
Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA
Analyze smaller pieces of functionality
Offers higher productivity and efficiency through the micro organization. Decreasing the complexity of creating, testing, and understanding applications.
Infrastructure as a Code:
Managing infrastructure is a model that uses code at the base of the infrastructure and is an evolved strategy that eradicates the issues of an environment drift in the release pipeline.
Creating and maintaining consistency across the product and its functionality to meet operational requirements throughout the product lifecycle.
Automation of complex tasks and permits healthcare organizations to enhance agility.
Policy as Code:
Writing code in a superior level language to manage and automate policies through the representation of codes in text files through version control, automated testing, and deployment.
DevOps in the healthcare industry is really as advantageous as it seems. This software engineering strategy has a definitive approach towards processes and practices, along with highly functional tools to promote overall collaboration between developers and operations. The outcome is a highly efficient operating system and increased business profitability. The trend is catching on fast, and your healthcare organization stands to gain accelerated efficiency through the infrastructure provisioning and application deployment provided by DevOps.
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Written by Riken Shah linkedin
Riken's work motto is to help healthcare providers use technological advancements to make healthcare easily accessible to all stakeholders, from providers to patients. Under his leadership and guidance, OSP Labs has successfully developed over 600 customized software solutions for 200+ healthcare clients across continents.