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Microservices and Floral Jumpsuits

Exponential Health: Microservices

SLAY with plug and play 

In our most recent blog, we explored design thinking as it relates to delivering digital healthcare experiences based on the needs and preferences of end users. Today, we explore a strategy that will optimize the underlying architecture of those experiences. 

Exponential HealthFor decades, enterprise software of all kinds was exclusively built using monolithic architecture, i.e., a single application with all of the functionality tightly coupled in a single codebase. Unfortunately, monolithism has major drawbacks that make it incompatible with the needs of the modern enterprise. Notably, since functionality is tightly coupled inside an application, individual components can’t be easily scaled or reused. As a result, organizations are less digitally flexible. 

For example, let’s say a company builds a custom ecommerce application using monolithic architecture. It may be an amazing application. But, unfortunately, the company can’t easily separate that amazing functionality (e.g., the amazing check-out workflow or the amazing search functionality) and use it in other apps. They’d have to begin from scratch and do their best to match what they created.

This is why the industry as a whole is entering a new “post-monolithic era,” in which enterprise applications are created using reusable components, known as “microservices.” To continue the example above, the company could reuse its amazing check-out workflow across multiple applications and then update/upgrade them all simultaneously without breaking any of the apps.

A microservices-based architecture arranges an application into a collection of loosely coupled, independently deployed services. In a way, we can think of it as choosing the perfect outfit. 

A microservices-based architecture arranges an application into a collection of loosely coupled, independently deployed services. In a way, we can think of it as choosing the perfect outfit. 

The monolithic approach would only allow you to use a single piece of clothing, let’s say a floral jumpsuit. While this may be the perfect outfit in some circumstances, it certainly wouldn’t be in all.

With a microservices approach to fashion, you can choose the best shirt, skirt, and accessories (in this metaphor, that would be standalone functionality). And if you need to change the outfit for tomorrow (new application), you could reuse the same skirt (reusable service), but combine it with a different top (plug-and-play via APIs). 

Your wardrobe is now a bountiful digital ecosystem in which you can build amazing outfits/applications for the perfect night out on the town.

Benefits of Microservices 

In addition to empowering you to SLAY on a budget, microservices architecture enables organizations to: 

  1. Be more agile: Microservices enable organizations to not only move faster because you’re only deploying a subset of functionality as opposed to the whole application each time. Furthermore, the entire approach to development is more efficient because organizations can utilize specialized agile pods, working in parallel to develop each service. You can organize pods by business capability or functionally. 

  2. Scale services independently: In concert with the above point, microservices enable you to plug-and-play APIs to have different bundles of services/ functionality grouped, repurposed into new groups, and even deployable as independent services. 

  3. Democratize integration: Interoperability is at the core of microservices architecture. As you build functional groupings of logic, you’ll be able to scale your ecosystem better. This is especially pertinent to healthcare with HL7 FHIR. 

  4. Be more resilient: Failover is always top of mind. Microservices make rerouting easy. In case of issues, problematic services can be readily swapped out, and existing services can be patched and fixed independently. Since there is no longer a single point of failure, you can have redundant services ready to go and in case of issues, patch each service individually.

  5. Have more efficient processes: You’ll have a more lightweight application and a sprightly team that is event-oriented at its core. Not only does this approach promote efficient processes and lower resource utilization, but also compliance. For example, suppose one service has already been deemed compliant by a regulatory expert when you reuse it in a different bundle. In that case, it’ll be easier and faster to achieve full application compliance.

  6. Have improved CI/CD and automated testing: Similarly, you’ll have better error handling and release management via continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD); as a single change no longer results in the full application being released. Only the parts that are necessary. 

  7. Future proof your applications: All in all, microservices architecture enables you to future proof your applications so that you can quickly adapt them to meet changing business and technical requirements.

Healthcare and life sciences organizations can use microservices architecture to meet user needs in an ever-changing landscape. Swap in and out disease-specific modules. Reuse telehealth and scheduling capabilities to have centralized management and consolidation across the ecosystem while cutting development costs and time.

To learn more about the nexus of healthcare and technology, check out other recent entries in Exponential Health or email Olya

About the Author

For the better part of a decade, Olya Ossi has focused on digital transformation and innovation in healthcare. Prior to Unqork, Olya was the head of operations at a healthcare technology consulting firm, serving as general manager and consultant for clients in the healthcare, government, and nonprofit sectors.

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