3 Design Patterns in Healthcare Software: A Recipe for Success

By: Alexander Rauenzahn | November 14, 2023

When we develop software solutions for our clients, we use proven best practices and templates called “design patterns” to create flexible, maintainable, and efficient software systems. They provide structure and guidance, much like following a recipe.

To make this topic concrete and applicable, in this article, we will demonstrate how we use the following key design patterns across three healthcare scenarios:

Observer Pattern: We use this pattern to allow different system parts to stay connected and seamlessly share information. In a healthcare scenario, it’s like having a system that keeps everyone informed in real-time. When there’s a change in a patient’s health data, it ensures that medical professionals, caregivers, and patients are promptly updated.

Decorator Pattern: This pattern lets us add extra features to something without making it overly complex. It’s like customizing a monitoring system, like a baby monitor, to fit specific needs. It lets you enhance it with new capabilities while keeping it user-friendly.

Factory Pattern: Consider this pattern as a blueprint for consistently creating standardized elements – like insightful reports for your leaders and clinicians. This ensures that everything follows a common, reliable approach.

Exploring the Practical Applications of Design Patterns in Healthcare

These design patterns are not just technical jargon; they’re practical tools that help us improve how we use healthcare technology. So, let’s see how these ideas come to life and make healthcare services more efficient and collaborative.

Observer Pattern for Health Data Sharing

In complex industries like healthcare, the Observer pattern offers a structured data-sharing approach – improving communication and collaboration efficiency. Picture a dynamic system where patient health data flows seamlessly – enlightening medical professionals, caregivers, and patients.

The Scenario

In this scenario, a central hub known as the Health Data Repository acts as the subject. It is the custodian of the latest health data where observers can find the latest insights. These observers – including medical teams, caregivers, and patients – register their interest and receive real-time updates whenever health data evolves. This empowers medical professionals to swiftly make informed decisions while ensuring that caregivers and patients remain seamlessly connected to the evolving healthcare landscape.

C# Code Example: Observer Pattern for Health Data Sharing

The following code example illustrates the Observer pattern’s vital role in healthcare. The Health Data Repository effectively communicates health data changes to registered observers, including medical professionals.

Exported from Notepad++
using System; using System.Collections.Generic; // Define the Observer interface public interface IObserver { void Update(string healthData); } // Define the Subject interface public interface ISubject { void RegisterObserver(IObserver observer); void RemoveObserver(IObserver observer); void NotifyObservers(); } // Concrete implementation of the Subject public class HealthDataRepository : ISubject { private List<IObserver> observers = new List<IObserver>(); private string latestHealthData; public void RegisterObserver(IObserver observer) { observers.Add(observer); } public void RemoveObserver(IObserver observer) { observers.Remove(observer); } public void NotifyObservers() { foreach (var observer in observers) { observer.Update(latestHealthData); } } // Simulate updating health data and notifying observers public void UpdateHealthData(string newHealthData) { latestHealthData = newHealthData; NotifyObservers(); } } // Concrete implementation of the Observer public class MedicalProfessional : IObserver { private string name; public MedicalProfessional(string name) { this.name = name; } public void Update(string healthData) { Console.WriteLine($“Medical Professional {name} received updated health data: {healthData}”); } } public class Program { public static void Main(string[] args) { // Create a Health Data Repository HealthDataRepository data repository = new HealthDataRepository(); // Create Medical Professionals as Observers MedicalProfessional doctor1 = new MedicalProfessional(“Dr. Smith”); MedicalProfessional nurse1 = new MedicalProfessional(“Nurse Johnson”); // Register observers with the Health Data Repository dataRepository.RegisterObserver(doctor1); dataRepository.RegisterObserver(nurse1); // Update the health data in the repository dataRepository.UpdateHealthData(“Patient’s vitals are stable.”); // Output: // Medical Professional Dr. Smith received updated health data: Patient’s vitals are stable. // Medical Professional Nurse Johnson received updated health data: Patient’s vitals are stable. }

The Observer pattern empowers efficient information dissemination within this interconnected healthcare landscape, facilitating prompt and well-informed healthcare decisions.

Decorator Pattern for Baby Monitoring

In keeping with our healthcare scenario, let’s see how the Decorator pattern can enhance the world of baby monitoring. Imagine a dynamic baby monitoring system that seamlessly adapts to parents’ preferences and enriches their experience. The Decorator pattern, known for its flexibility, is crucial for enhancing monitoring capabilities and tailoring the experience to each baby’s unique needs.

The Scenario

Consider a baby monitoring system with temperature, movement, sound, and video sensors. By harnessing the power of the Decorator pattern, we enable this system to incorporate monitoring modules based on parental choices in real-time dynamically. For example, the system could dynamically add a “breathing pattern analysis” decorator to discern the nuances of a baby’s breathing patterns. Alternatively, a “sleep quality analysis” decorator could elegantly monitor sleep cycles, providing parents with a comprehensive overview of their child’s well-being.

Code Example: Decorator Pattern for Baby Monitoring

In our practical demonstration of the Decorator pattern, we apply it to a baby monitoring system. In this context, the Decorator pattern allows us to enhance the system’s capabilities with specialized features. At the heart of our system lies the BasicMonitoring class, serving as the core component. As we delve into the code examples, you will see how decorators, such as BreathingPatternAnalysisDecorator and SleepQualityAnalysisDecorator, dynamically enrich the monitoring system, tailoring it to meet the specific needs of parents and caregivers.

Exported from Notepad++
using System; // The Component interface defines the basic functionality interface IMonitoring { void Monitor(); } // ConcreteComponent class represents the core functionality class BasicMonitoring : IMonitoring { public void Monitor() { Console.WriteLine(“Basic monitoring in progress…”); } } // Decorator abstract class provides the common interface for all decorators abstract class MonitoringDecorator : IMonitoring { protected IMonitoring _monitoring; public MonitoringDecorator(IMonitoring monitoring) { _monitoring = monitoring; } public virtual void Monitor() { _monitoring.Monitor(); } } // ConcreteDecorator1 adds breathing pattern analysis class BreathingPatternAnalysisDecorator : MonitoringDecorator { public BreathingPatternAnalysisDecorator(IMonitoring monitoring) : base(monitoring) { } public override void Monitor() { base.Monitor(); Console.WriteLine(“Adding breathing pattern analysis…”); } } // ConcreteDecorator2 adds sleep quality analysis class SleepQualityAnalysisDecorator : MonitoringDecorator { public SleepQualityAnalysisDecorator(IMonitoring monitoring) : base(monitoring) { } public override void Monitor() { base.Monitor(); Console.WriteLine(“Adding sleep quality analysis…”); } } class Program { static void Main(string[] args) { // Create the core monitoring system IMonitoring basicMonitoring = new BasicMonitoring(); Console.WriteLine(“Basic Monitoring:”); basicMonitoring.Monitor(); // Enhance with breathing pattern analysis IMonitoring withBreathingAnalysis = new BreathingPatternAnalysisDecorator(basicMonitoring); Console.WriteLine(“\nMonitoring with Breathing Pattern Analysis:”); withBreathingAnalysis.Monitor(); // Further enhance with sleep quality analysis IMonitoring withSleepQualityAnalysis = new SleepQualityAnalysisDecorator(withBreathingAnalysis); Console.WriteLine(“\nMonitoring with Sleep Quality Analysis:”); withSleepQualityAnalysis.Monitor(); } }

By implementing the Decorator pattern in our baby monitoring system, we’ve achieved more than just customization; we’ve created a versatile and adaptable solution that empowers parents to tailor the monitoring experience according to their unique preferences. This means adding specialized functionalities – like breathing pattern analysis or sleep quality monitoring – becomes not just possible but seamless. As a result, parents can rest assured that their child’s well-being is being meticulously watched.

Factory Pattern for Healthcare Reporting

The Factory pattern is a pivotal orchestrator in healthcare solutions, where timely and precise information drives informed decisions. This pattern enables the real-time creation of essential healthcare reports.

The Scenario

Within patient care, medical summaries and lab result reports are essential. Imagine a proactive healthcare provider developing a system that tailors these reports to enhance patient care and simplify healthcare professionals’ tasks. Such a solution depends on the Factory pattern and two key players: the MedicalSummaryReportFactory and the LabResultReportFactory. These factories create reports that align with healthcare professionals’ needs – comprehensive medical summaries or detailed lab results.

C# Code Example: Factory Pattern for Healthcare Reporting

In our practical demonstration of the Factory pattern, we introduce the key players, the MedicalSummaryReportFactory and LabResultReportFactory. These factories seamlessly choreograph the creation of vital healthcare reports, showcasing the elegance of the pattern in action.

Exported from Notepad++
using System; // Abstract product representing a healthcare report abstract class HealthcareReport { public abstract void GenerateReport(); } // Concrete product: Medical Summary Report class MedicalSummaryReport : HealthcareReport { public override void GenerateReport() { Console.WriteLine(“Generating Medical Summary Report…”); // Logic for generating a medical summary report goes here } } // Concrete product: Lab Result Report class LabResultReport : HealthcareReport { public override void GenerateReport() { Console.WriteLine(“Generating Lab Result Report…”); // Logic for generating a lab result report goes here } } // Factory interface interface IReportFactory { HealthcareReport CreateReport(); } // Concrete factory for Medical Summary Reports class MedicalSummaryReportFactory : IReportFactory { public HealthcareReport CreateReport() { return new MedicalSummaryReport(); } } // Concrete factory for Lab Result Reports class LabResultReportFactory : IReportFactory { public HealthcareReport CreateReport() { return new LabResultReport(); } } class Program { static void Main(string[] args) { // Client code IReportFactory medicalFactory = new MedicalSummaryReportFactory(); HealthcareReport medicalReport = medicalFactory.CreateReport(); medicalReport.GenerateReport(); IReportFactory labFactory = new LabResultReportFactory(); HealthcareReport labReport = labFactory.CreateReport(); labReport.GenerateReport(); } }

By implementing the Factory pattern in their software solutions, healthcare systems can operate more efficiently – providing their professionals with significantly enhanced insights that help them make precise diagnoses, plan strategic treatments, and provide exceptional patient care.

Conclusion: Harmonizing Design Patterns with Healthcare Services

Through exploring design patterns within healthcare services, we’ve demonstrated how these elegant solutions seamlessly integrate with the industry’s intricacies.

The Observer pattern is a real-time conduit for health data sharing – promoting collaboration among medical professionals, caregivers, and patients. This dynamic exchange ensures informed decision-making and streamlines patient care.

With the Decorator pattern, we showed its transformative role in enhancing baby monitoring systems. Like an artist adding layers to a canvas, the Decorator pattern personalizes monitoring by seamlessly integrating modules tailored to parents’ preferences. This approach elevates child safety and well-being, showcasing the pattern’s adaptability and utility in healthcare technology.

Lastly, we demonstrated how the Factory pattern enhances healthcare reporting and insights by creating standardized and accurate reports.

Collectively, these design patterns show what’s possible at your organization – an achievable reality of improved collaboration, personalization, and patient care. If these scenarios align with your organization’s goals and aspirations, we invite you to contact us. We combine real-world experience with deep technical skills and leading technology to deliver secure solutions that drive value and transform the care continuum.

Alexander is a results-driven software engineer with expertise in designing, developing, and deploying impactful applications. As part of our Modern Applications team, he is passionate about creating efficient and user-friendly software solutions.

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