The rapid adoption of cloud computing in routine clinical practice has led to the incubation of several promising SaaS startups. However, the healthcare vertical introduces a unique set of challenges. Along with the traditional requirements of a SaaS platform, there are added requirements from the clinical utilization of the service. While companies prefer standardization in workflow to simplify product development and maintenance, the reality is that healthcare providers require custom workflows as part of their clinical protocols and delivery of care model. The ability of the company to deliver on these requirements in a timely manner comes down to one key factor: design. 

 In the current business landscapeinformation is vast and unwieldy and the CIO must spearhead the effort to enable the technology teams to harness its value 

In a SaaS model, design has three primary components: design of the infrastructure to provide redundancy and security, design of the data store to provide performant, role based access, and design of the software that allows easily adapting the functionality to client specific customization. It is imperative these component designs follow the overarching guidelines determined by the end product requirements. Getting it right will avoid costly redesigns and interruptions in service as the business scales. 

Company leadership must strive to provide a consistent and unified vision of their product offering. A progressive CIO is an integral part in sharing this responsibility. They communicate the product vision to the technology teams in a manner that allows the broadest utilization of the product with the best possible user experience. They must ensure that clinical and technology requirements are distilled into the product roadmap and then adopt processes to facilitate regular cross-team review at development milestones to ensure there are no deviations from the product goals. 

With the ubiquity of big data, there is also increasing pressure on SaaS companies to provide actionable metrics to clients based on analytics. There is a need to provide high performance, on demand access to vast amounts of data processed by complex rules. Robust design in infrastructure, data storage and software is key in ensuring that the clinical analytics and business intelligence tools remain feasible through the evolution of changing requirements driven by regulatory and operational changes in the healthcare industry. In the current business landscape, information is vast and unwieldy and the CIO must spearhead the effort to enable the technology teams to harness its value. 

The role of the healthcare CIO is evolving and they must be knowledgeable in both clinical and technology domains. They must understand the market landscape and build a strategic plan and work with the technology teams to deliver on the business goals. At Somnoware, we have introduced these changes over the past year and are starting to see the benefits. Product releases are more stable and we are able to bring in new clients as the business scales without disrupting our planned product and technology roadmap.