Journal of Pathology Informatics Journal of Pathology Informatics
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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 44

Custom software development for use in a clinical laboratory


Department of Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

Correspondence Address:
John H Sinard
Department of Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2153-3539.104906

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In-house software development for use in a clinical laboratory is a controversial issue. Many of the objections raised are based on outdated software development practices, an exaggeration of the risks involved, and an underestimation of the benefits that can be realized. Buy versus build analyses typically do not consider total costs of ownership, and unfortunately decisions are often made by people who are not directly affected by the workflow obstacles or benefits that result from those decisions. We have been developing custom software for clinical use for over a decade, and this article presents our perspective on this practice. A complete analysis of the decision to develop or purchase must ultimately examine how the end result will mesh with the departmental workflow, and custom-developed solutions typically can have the greater positive impact on efficiency and productivity, substantially altering the decision balance sheet. Involving the end-users in preparation of the functional specifications is crucial to the success of the process. A large development team is not needed, and even a single programmer can develop significant solutions. Many of the risks associated with custom development can be mitigated by a well-structured development process, use of open-source tools, and embracing an agile development philosophy. In-house solutions have the significant advantage of being adaptable to changing departmental needs, contributing to efficient and higher quality patient care.


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