by Michael Maxin, CEO of Clinical Platform
Last month, I was lucky enough to represent Health IT Pittsburgh at the SaaSTR Annual conference in San Jose. Before I get to the meeting details and how SaaS is making its mark on the healthcare market let’s cover some “SaaS” basics.
SaaS stands for “Software as a Service.” (SaaS) is basically a software distribution model in which a third-party provider hosts application and makes them available to customers over the Internet. SaaS is one of three main categories of cloud computing, alongside infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS). My company, Clinical Platform, would fall under the PaaS category as we provide a platform for educating patients and access to hard-to-find clinical trials.
SaaS in the healthcare market is fast-growing with undeniable benefits to many in the healthcare ecosystem. Some of the benefits to healthcare from SaaS include.
- Cost efficiency: Organizations can improve deployment of electronic medical records and electronic health records using SaaS.
- Regional health information exchanges can get new systems up and running quickly without spending huge sums on setting up IT infrastructure.
- SaaS can help provide seamless integration between healthcare providers and insurance companies.
- Hospital systems, which, as we all know, can be very slow in adopting and deploying new technologies, can gain an advantage and save money by using a SaaS designed especially for them.
There are some drawbacks to using SaaS in healthcare–the biggest: securing patient data access. As a word of caution, anyone wanting to build or use a healthcare SaaS system needs to put patient privacy at the top of their list. Remember: one of the basics of SaaS is storing information in the cloud. If you are considering SaaS in your healthcare company you will have to follow strict regulations around the security of the data. That said, SaaS definitely has a place in our market.
On to the SaaSTR Annual conference. I expected to find lots of high-tech SaaS companies, solutions, and application developers, and that’s exactly what I got. The biggest SaaS companies (Oracle, SAP, Intuit, and Microsoft) all had a presence, but what I liked was some of the smaller application developers willing to talk with me about my little healthcare company. SaaS application developers are especially interested in creating new technology, and the healthcare market offers them the opportunity to break into a market with huge upside and many buyers.
The show itself was not your typical conference with dozens of tracks to choose from but a large one with many talks that shared success stories and learnings from some big companies like Amazon, Dropbox, and Crunchbase.
What I love most about the meeting (other than the weather in San Jose), was this: Venture Capital firms love the word SaaS. Here is why: think about how you used to buy software. Go to Best Buy, find your software on a shelf, take it home, unwrap it, download, install. Go back to the store and repeat your purchase because the CD-ROM you bought was good for only one computer. SaaS changed the game. SaaS, by its nature, is hugely scalable and, thus, highly profitable. As a PaaS start-up in the healthcare business (and one looking for investment), I’ll be sure to explain to my potential investors the benefits of SaaS, but I doubt I’ll have to.