Low-code Use Cases for Healthcare Organizations

Where, when, and why should healthcare organizations use low-code application development?
Read Time: 7 minutes
Oct 21, 2022

Should healthcare organizations use low-code for all their software development requirements? It’s up to ten times faster than traditional coding. Who wouldn’t want faster delivery? We explore the where, when, and why of using low-code, with examples from the healthcare sector.

How Low-code Changes the Application Development Process

It’s widely acknowledged that low-code application development is up to ten times faster than traditional coding. But, besides delivery speed, much else changes when adopting low-code software development.

More intensive collaboration – So much more happens in a one or two-week sprint that business stakeholders such as subject matter experts and user acceptance testers need to be much more constantly involved. Many organizations are unaccustomed to the intensive, even frenetic, pace of low-code development.

For example, have you got enough business analysts available? When developers burn through their backlogs four or more times faster, how will you keep them fed with sufficient user stories? The last thing you want is developers twiddling their thumbs, waiting to learn what comes next.

Changes are faster – When you ask for changes to a user interface, reports, or workflows, developers will be hounding you for feedback in hours or a day or two, not weeks or months later.

Experimentation becomes affordable – the ability to rapidly build working prototypes, and make changes on the fly, engenders experimentation. A test-and-learn culture becomes affordable when the need to pivot doesn’t involve weeks of costly coded development being “flushed down the toilet.”

OutSystems Low-code is Enterprise-grade Ready

In our recent blog post, “Mission-critical Low-code Apps,” we sought to dispel a few low-code myths and show how one low-code vendor, “OutSystems,” delivers enterprise-grade apps.

Putting our cards on the table, we’re North America’s leading OutSystems delivery partner. As experts in the world’s #1 low-code platform, we know it provides class-beating development speed. Moreover, we use it to deliver mission-critical apps that scale for millions of users, meet stringent health sector security requirements, and provide world-class user experiences.

So, from our perspective, and in the case of OutSystems specifically, we don’t see any no-go areas for low-code in the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. We’ve summarized some of our numerous customer engagements in our projects portfolio.

Should You Use Low-code for All Software Requirements?

It’s overly simplistic to say that you should always use low-code. Even so, industry analyst Gartner predicts that by 2025, 70 percent of new apps developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technologies.

The following decision model will help you evaluate whether to take the plunge with low-code and weigh up when and when not to use it.

Build versus Buy? An Age-old Question for Software Requirements

The first thing to acknowledge is that custom software development is risky. So if an off-the-shelf SaaS product can fully meet your business requirement, you should evaluate that before embarking on a custom development project.

The following build versus buy software decision grid provides a helpful guide for software provisioning.

The Build vs. Buy Software Decision Grid – And What it Means for Traditional vs. Low-Code Development.

There are two axes on this grid. Moving higher represents increasing differentiation, and moving to the right means a growing need for agility.

Differentiation

Commodity (non-differentiating) products like financial accounting, CRM, and HR software belong at the bottom of the vertical axis. Off-the-shelf SaaS products typically provide these commodity functions with modest and affordable configurations.

As you move up this axis, you encounter differentiating requirements where businesses want a competitive advantage over industry peers or niche requirements that are poorly served by off-the-shelf products.

In the case of differentiation, the business may want to own the intellectual property of their invention, which discourages the use of packaged, yet heavily customized SaaS products.

Agility

The left end of this axis represents software products that have a low propensity to change. Once again, core finance and HR systems are good examples. Changes tend to be driven by regulatory change, and a business is unlikely to gain a competitive advantage by rapidly and repeatedly adjusting its accounting or payroll processes.

As you move to the right on this axis, you find an increasing need for agility. Two main factors influence this — responding to competitive threats/opportunities and uncertainty.

Examples of applications that benefit from extreme agility include:

  • Digital experiences that serve customers. In a healthcare context, this could include customer onboarding, i.e., membership enrollment. The onboarding team can identify abandonment zones by using web analytics to monitor user journeys. A test-and-learn approach requires continuous iteration to produce a frictionless onboarding journey that maximizes conversions.
  • Disruptive innovation. To try things that haven’t been done before requires innovators to embrace uncertainty. A lean startup approach — which rapidly matures a minimum viable product into an innovative digital service — inevitably involves rework and continuous enhancements. That’s much easier to do with low-code than with traditional development, as several of the case studies below illustrate.

Where and When to Adopt Low-Code

As the above build versus buy decision grid illustrates, for commodity functions that are slow to change, you’re unlikely to justify custom software development, favoring an off-the-shelf solution instead.

Remember that software development is just a small proportion of the entire lifecycle cost of software. Depending on the lifespan of an application, much more is typically spent maintaining the application after the initial release. Therefore, software products that require continual change benefit the most from a low-code approach.

Low-code deserves consideration for all scenarios where custom development is warranted.

  • High differentiation with less need for agility – These tend to be niche requirements rather than sources of competitive advantage, as remaining competitive implies dynamism. Here the main benefits of using low-code compared to traditional “high-code” will be faster speed to market and lowering the complexity of development. You’ll need fewer senior developers on the project and might even incorporate citizen developers in the build.
  • High differentiation with a greater need for agility – Areas of innovation, competitive advantage, uncertainty, and requirements that are either vague or likely to change, are the sweet spot for low-code application development. Besides the improved agility that low-code provides, earlier release of the solution will be the most crucial factor in some competitive situations. The business will start reaping the rewards of its innovation sooner, perhaps gaining a “first mover” advantage over competitors.
  • Low differentiation with a greater need for agility – We propose a “buy plus low-code” approach in the decision grid. SaaS providers increasingly provide low-code and no-code customization capabilities to aid customers’ agility. Additionally, industry analysts such as Gartner advocate that organizations adopt a twin-track approach — minimizing the heavy configuration of slow-to-change ERP systems by moving required customizations to integrated low-code development platforms.

Low-code Use Cases in the Healthcare Sector

Here are various healthcare sector low-code stories, with links to discover more on the OutSystems website.

Woman working on computer in office

Humana Powers Digital Channels with OutSystems to Gain 4x Agility Boost

CDR has helped Humana’s digital development team rediscover its innovation mojo. Learn how Humana’s digital team delivers four times faster, at a quarter of the cost, while over-delivering on scope and quality. Read the full story.

Bruce Buttles image

“Delivering four times faster while at the same time improving quality is a game-changer—making a vast range of innovations viable that were previously risk or cost-prohibitive.”

Bruce Buttles

Digital Channels Director, Humana

Doctor using tablet

Medical Technology Provider Medtronic Improves Patient Care with Digital Heart Monitoring Service

Medtronic, the largest global medical device company, chose OutSystems to build FocusOn™, a remote monitoring and triaging platform for cardiac conditions that saves clinical staff time and ensures better patient outcomes. Read the full story.

Karel Nouwen image

“We wanted a secure platform that would allow us to build the capabilities we needed quickly and easily—and that’s what OutSystems offers.”

Karel Nouwen

Senior IT Director, Digital Business and Digital Health, Medtronic

Microscope in lab

STEMCELL Accelerates App Dev with OutSystems — Using Reusable Modules and Templates

With a backlog of seventeen aging hard-to-maintain applications, STEMCELL searched for a faster, less resource-intensive way to build apps. The company chose OutSystems. At the start of the COVID crisis, they launched a business-critical app in under 24 hours. Read the full story.

Beatriz Clarke image

“Our backlog is gone, and we have been able to deliver almost every application request when necessary.”

Beatriz Clarke

Applications Development Manager, STEMCELL

For more CDR Low-code healthcare case studies, visit our portfolio. There are almost endless possibilities for low-code in the healthcare sector, so why not get in touch with one of our experts to discuss your requirements.

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