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eHealth software testing: taking the digital Hippocratic oath

Medicine has broken new ground. However, there’s still no room for errors. Get to know more information about effective testing approach in the health sector. 
28 October 2020
Big data testing
Functional testing
Performance testing
Test automation
The article by a1qa
a1qa

The healthcare sector was definitely not that ready for an unforeseeable February situation forcing clinicians to re-image their attitude to novel technologies in medicine. Undoubtedly, innovations have become an inextricable part of the human experience.

People’s values are shifting, and digital age technology models are increasingly out of sync with them. Despite broadly benefitting from technology, people are expressing concerns about their usage and focus. They are turning to health more than ever to get answers about their day-to-day tension.

But how can one provide the ground for safer harnessing eHealth tools and ensure consumer confidence? Welcome to reading our article, focusing on the following:

  • Topical healthcare innovations
  • Why it is crucial to deliver high-quality eHealth apps
  • How to do it effectively.

Let’s get started.

Gone are the days of mass services. Now, medical centers focus on personalized treatment, as every person feels different about the same disease. Genetic information, access to big data, and the Internet of medical things technology unlock the customer-centric approach.

People had to leverage non-standard solutions to surmount the hurdle of an unprecedented situation. Within lock-down, they interacted at a distance to solve any issue, including receiving medical care. Using telecom technologies, the number of virtual visits to medical institutions has increased by more than 15 times.

Smartphone usage has grown as well. Statista’s report showcases 70% of respondents prefer using mobile devices that have emerged to collect symptoms data, notify about risk zones, and provide information about contacts’ health condition.

For years, artificial intelligence has been one of the most pervasive technologies. According to the World Quality Report 2019-2020, overall investment in AI in the healthcare sector is higher than average, and more medical organizations are planning to introduce it.

Today, the innovation helps to identify diseases, select the necessary treatment, create the optimal drug formula, and much more. Frost & Sullivan estimates AI in the healthcare sector will grow by 40% per year, so its market share will be close to $6.6 billion by 2021.

More and more medical institutions are switching to electronic systems that store a large amount of patients’ information. Big data technology helps organize all the data and fit it into one format that is available to any healthcare center.

Machine learning algorithms are able to predict the means of treatment for patients. Novel technologies are paving the way for an all-embracing grasp of health essence, therefore, people will possess ample opportunities to choose suitable medical care.

Considering all mentioned above, the volume of the global eHealth market is forecasted to be more than $630 billion, as Statista showcases.

ehealth market
Resource: Statista

The gravity of quality assurance in eHealth

In line with global digitalization, IT solutions development and sophisticated new technologies implementation are increasing in healthcare institutions. Only thorough testing before going live one can guarantee unhindered software operation under real conditions.

Noteworthy is that every mistake in a medical solution triggers adverse consequences that threaten human well-being. For example, the occasional substitution of health test results may cause inappropriate treatment or no treatment at all. Incorrect configuring clinical equipment can spoil condition parameters that will also affect the health state.

By shifting to electronic document management, information security in medical centers is up the ante. Miscellaneous personal data is often of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Like all applications, medical solutions are at risk of cyber attacks and malicious data usage. From time to time, we hear unpleasant stories of customer information being shared with third parties, including credit agencies, advertising companies, and private organizations. Yes, that sounds like a big problem.

Every information system in the healthcare sector should be developed in compliance with the security and confidentiality requirements defined by GDPR in the European Union and HIPAA and COPPA in the USA. These measures allow users, for example, to ask for any information erasure or explanation of the reasons why a particular piece of data needs to be stored.

Thus, timely testing prevents possible bottlenecks and shortcomings in IT solutions, thereby avoiding data leaks, customer concerns, and deterioration of the institution’s reputation.

QA in eHealth: effective testing

Agile has been a mainstream development approach in the healthcare sector for the last two or three years, the World Quality Report 2019-2020 indicates. However, businesses still confront challenges in their usage, especially in providing an appropriate level of test automation.

Within great responsibility for human well-being and a number of issues during development, healthcare applications need thorough testing. The choice of services depends on the IT solution’s peculiarities and business goals.

Functional testing

The importance of functional checks is reinforced by a1qa’s success story about providing QA services to a leader in medical equipment production.

The specialists were responsible for testing the system applied for collecting, storing, and processing session data from blood transfusion devices. When estimating solutions’ safety class according to IEC 62304 standard, it was assigned the Class C — death or serious injury is possible.

Within such severity of eHealth solution, it was vital to onboard professional QA engineers, who were to pass an introductory course. After getting satisfactory results, they verified all functionality for compliance with the requirements and the IEC 62304 standard.

During functional testing, the team performed smoke tests to ensure the absence of critical issues that could impede further activities and harnessed new feature testing. Regression testing and defect validation helped ensure changes didn’t affect previously developed units.

Performance testing

A large amount of data involves multiple operations that may affect the system stability. Therefore, a1qa’s experts recommend checking the software response to a heavy load and identifying the peak number of simultaneous sessions before the product goes into production.

a1qa helped ensure flawless operation of the medical system applying the user behavior approach. Simulating real users’ actions, the experts gauged the velocity of the system reaction to operations and analyzed its behaviour under a certain load.

Testing big data

Integrity and completeness are the cornerstones of a confident and safe patient data transferring process ubiquitous for medical institutions.

a1qa has experience in ensuring data accuracy for a corporation that provides professional services to pharmaceutical companies. The main challenges were verifying the complex business logic of databases composed for customers and a great volume of work. Despite the issues, the specialists worked out an approach for streamlined big data testing and improved product quality.

Test automation

Healthcare IT solutions require completely accurate testing. Alongside QA processes optimization, test automation helps minimize the human factor, namely errors. However, this testing type is not a silver bullet. The World Quality Report indicates companies developing eHealth products face challenges with test automation implementation due to the inappropriate skills and tools and hindrances with testing environments.

To move on, organizations should leave the manual process behind and introduce a strategy of lean automation. That means the case is worth to be automated if the feature is to be checked frequently and isn’t likely to change within a few weeks.

In a nutshell

A new era of medical care paved the way for novel core concepts including information technologies, patient-centric approach, and process improvement. But the only thing that remains static is that errors are inadmissible.

Innovation has turned into assistants helping save lives. eHealth solutions need comprehensive and effective testing to match doctors’ excellent performance.

Wish to get high-quality healthcare software products? Get hold of us, and a1qa’s experts can help you address the challenge.

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