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A Guide for Implementing DevOps in the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare is a demanding field. That’s why providers are now implementing SaaS solutions for advanced treatments and care that rely on DevOps for deployment and maintenance.

Alexander Levi Daniels

By Alexander Levi Daniels

Director of Engineering Alexander Levi Daniels helps coordinate engineering efforts relying on his background in business management and development

10 min read

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DevOps has grown swiftly over the past few years. It’s a cross-functional development methodology that ensures the quick delivery of high-quality software. In fact, this set of practices has changed the way we see software development and operation management. 

DevOps delivers rapid IT services through the combination of automation and agile processes. DevOps toolchains also optimize performance and improve collaboration between different departments. 

With its advanced capabilities and continuous processes, DevOps finds good use in the healthcare industry. In addition, the industry itself has started realizing the need for tech-savvy and smart applications for hospital management.

This is especially helpful today when patients increasingly expect their healthcare provider to be quick and convenient. Many healthcare organizations have now started integrating services such as follow-up texts or reminder emails into existing admin systems. 

Healthcare startups such as Narus Health and Diameter Health are now using DevOps to deliver an end-to-end user experience to their clients. They use cloud-based AWS solutions for providing 24X7 support and are responsible for maintaining, troubleshooting, and deploying healthcare systems.

Advantages of using DevOps in healthcare

Since healthcare requires optimized solutions and fast turnarounds, DevOps is the way to go. Adopting it has many advantages, such as: 

1. Improving engagement

Healthcare companies that use CI/CD pipelines tend to deliver better features and solutions. For example, features such as self-check-in systems (that allow faster processing of patients) and electronic prescription filling (which enables patients to get medicines even if they aren’t at the premises) improve patient satisfaction.  

They directly address patients’ needs for convenient and quality healthcare. Practitioners can also set up automatic appointments. This improves operational efficiency without compromising the quality of service.

2. Managing Data

To create cost-effective and responsive solutions, a data-driven approach is the way to go. A data-based solution improves productivity and provides organizations with a competitive edge through insights. However, hospitals sometimes generate a large amount of data that can’t be processed through normal tools. 

DevOps toolchains help manage that data through data pipelines and big data applications. They enable healthcare providers to handle data such as lab reports, pharmacies, medical device reports, EHRs (Electronic Health Records), wearables, and insurance claims, and leverage them for final analysis.  

3. Automating development

DevOps processes allow healthcare providers to create better applications by integrating automation into their current systems. This helps them satisfy SLAs and effectively manage resources. In addition, standardized processes make sure that the deployment is smooth and features are released quickly. 

4. Data Security and Regulatory Compliance

DevOps’ core principle, “infrastructure as code,” allows healthcare providers to integrate security fundamentals inside the application module itself. This is called DevSecOps. 

In this approach, vulnerability analysis is done along with pipeline implementations. This allows engineers to address all potential vulnerabilities at the time of development and deployment. In addition, the principle of “least privilege” is used to assign access, which means machines and people with the lowest level of privilege don’t get access to critical areas of the system. 

Things to know before implementing DevOps in healthcare

DevOps adoption in healthcare has risen significantly in the last few years due to its numerous benefits. In fact, 73% of the medical IT teams have now adopted DevOps for their development strategy. 

If you’re a healthcare company, there are many things you can do to optimize your DevOps strategy. You can use specific frameworks for implementing DevOps and agile development, such as Kanban. These frameworks use analytics to identify team needs and provide resolution ideas. They also enable communication and improve team transparency. 

Your organization should also focus on test automation. Test automation means using tools and techniques that allow you to automatically run tests (acceptance, unit, functional) and create reports. You can use these tools to automatically log results and metrics. Completion metrics allow you to improve code quality without manual intervention. 

How to implement DevOps in healthcare

1. Planning

The first step in the DevOps process is planning. You need to examine your operational and development activities and configure them according to the DevOps methodology. During this phase, you also need to check on technical and human resources, inventory, software guidelines, and security policies. You might need to schedule meetings with different teams and perform task management.

2. Continuous integration 

The CI server should commit all the system changes and new code modules into the central repository. This helps in cross-departmental code sharing and merging. Efficient code management also prevents delays. 

3. Continuous Testing 

The shared repository is continuously tested to see whether it works or not. If the test yields positive results, it’s sent to the next phase. If the test fails or is inconclusive, though, the system tries to identify the error and runs it through its database. 

This is done to check if the error is a known one. If it’s a new error, the system generates a report and creates an incident. This incident is assigned to the development team. They can thus track the issue through an incident tracker. 

4. Continuous deployment 

If the code tests right, it gets deployed onto the production system (or on the development system, depending on the company protocol). This ensures that code is deployed quickly and regularly. 

5. Monitoring and constant feedback

Constant monitoring makes sure that the software performs to its optimum level. The system sends feedback to the development and operations team. If there’s an issue in the build, an immediate incident is raised and sent across in real time. The system also maintains analytics to track incident counts. 

To sum up

DevOps implementation in the healthcare sector is a positive approach to modern-day problems in the industry. The healthcare sector is under immense pressure to deliver solutions while maintaining security and integrity. 

This approach can help medical companies provide better care by reducing downtime and optimizing access to healthcare. Digital is the way to go, and embracing DevOps is a step in the right direction for reliable and efficient patient care.

Alexander Levi Daniels

By Alexander Levi Daniels

As Director of Engineering, Alexander Levi Daniels uses his varied areas of expertise, including marketing, web and app development, and business management to help translate BairesDev's technical vision into reality. He does so through the high-level coordination of engineering teams and projects.

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