What Is Discovery and Why Is It Important for Healthcare Organizations’ Software Development Process?

Paul Galbraith

Paul Galbraith

Posted on December 03, 2021

Healthcare Organizations

When embarking on a software development project, there are often many unknowns: How should legacy software integrate with new solutions? What compliance issues need to be solved? How can technologies be best designed to fit or improve existing workflows? These are all questions that should have clear answers before starting the software development process. 

Including a ‘discovery’ and project-planning phase into a healthcare software development project can be extremely beneficial. The best software developers can create a solution that meets best practices, but without discovery, they most likely won’t be able to deliver the specific needs of the client and their user base, and therefore won’t solve their problems.

Healthcare Organizations

Further, a 2012 McKinsey report tells us that 45% of all IT projects (both software and non software) go over budget, while 7% go over schedule. These numbers are higher when looking at strictly software projects, with 66% of large software projects going over budget and 33% of large software projects running past schedule. Opting for a discovery phase can save healthcare organizations time, money, and frustration. But what is discovery and how does it work?

What Is Discovery and Project Planning?

Discovery and project planning, also referred to as ideation, prototyping, scoping, and proof of concept is a preliminary and preparatory phase to development. In this initial research and planning phase, detailed documentation on software integrations, feature definitions, user workflows, and platform architecture are developed, along with highly accurate cost and timeline estimates. 

The three main goals of discovery and project planning are to:

  1. Create a detailed project roadmap
  2. Get a clear understanding of the costs, as well as the timeline, associated with the specific software development project
  3. Create a prototype (in complex cases)

Put simply, the outcome of the discovery and project planning phase is a detailed project roadmap for the creation of the software application that avoids pitfalls and mitigates risk.

How Do Discovery and Project Planning Work?

The discovery process at Medical Web Experts (MWE) is all about gaining a deeper understanding of the client’s needs and goals. Through close collaboration between the client and MWE’s senior-most technical, data security, scalability, and compliance experts, the project starts to take shape. 

Over four to six weeks, senior executives and specialists from MWE’s team work closely with the client to clearly define:

  • How users currently interact with your platform
  • How you would like for users to interact with your platform
  • Your users’ needs
  • What features you need to meet your goals
  • If you need to integrate a legacy system into your new digital health solution, and if so, the best way to interface with those systems

During this time, we prepare explanations, graphics, and diagrams that illustrate the current user experience of the application as well as a solution to achieve desired workflow. 

At the end of discovery, clients are handed a clearly defined project scope that includes a detailed roadmap for software development, a cost estimate to within a very small (in most cases, less than 10%) margin of error, and a timeline for project completion. By involving legal, compliance, and security experts in the discovery phase, MWE identifies potential pitfalls that may arise later. When the formal development process kicks off, the client can be sure that their project is heading in the right direction, from technical, business, and compliance perspectives.

Some executives may feel that a discovery and project planning phase will put them behind schedule, but this essential preliminary phase can actually help companies reach a finished product as much as 30% faster.

Discovery and Project Planning for Digital Front Door and Digital Health Application Solutions

While many projects can benefit from a discovery phase, healthcare projects that might be particularly well-served by the process include designing a digital front door and digital healthcare application development

In recent years, all eyes have been on the digital front door. With ease-of-use at the forefront of healthcare digital transformation, a digital front door ideally offers patients a single point of access to all of their digital healthcare services and resources. At the same time, staff at a healthcare organization should be able to input and access data on a unified system, rather than navigating between piecemealed software solutions. To do this effectively, new software applications must be seamlessly integrated with existing source systems – a task that requires extensive forward-planning and research. 

In the same sense, mobile and web-based digital health applications are an essential part of running a healthcare organization in an increasingly consumerized world – but doing it right can get complicated. In addition to technical challenges, like cybersecurity and software integrations, healthcare organizations need to ensure that any new app is fully HIPAA-compliant and offers the right features for their patient population.

Why Is Discovery and Project Planning Important for Digital Health Software Solutions?

Kicking off the healthcare application development process with a discovery phase helps set a course for success by charting the scale of the project and setting a realistic budget. 

The three main benefits of the discovery process are to help healthcare organizations:

  1. Understand if their current solutions meet their needs
  2. Understand how they can integrate their digital health solutions into one consolidated and seamless experience
  3. Save time, money, and avoid pitfalls

Some executives may feel that a discovery and project planning phase will put them behind schedule, but this essential preliminary phase can actually help companies reach a finished product as much as 30% faster.

Partner with an Experienced Software Development Team that Specializes in Healthcare Solutions

At Medical Web Experts, we specialize in helping healthcare organizations with complex software development projects efficiently and successfully develop the perfect solution for their needs. Get in touch with Medical Web Experts today to find out how a discovery phase could help you navigate your healthcare software development project with ease.


Paul Galbraith

Paul Galbraith

Paul is the Manager of Business Development and Senior Account Manager at Medical Web Experts. With over 6 years of experience as a results-driven business developer, Paul manages inbound and outbound sales cycles with a proven track record for exceeding targets. Paul has managed over 100 projects, many for Medical Web Experts’ most enterprise-level clients.

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