Implementing a well-thought approach to healthcare IT testing
In 2016 IDC Health Insights reported that 40% of the US healthcare providers scaled up their IT budgets. The expanding budgets attribute to the development of top-notch cloud solutions and clinical applications, including EHR/EMR solutions, patients’ engagements portals, revenue cycle management and other medical software.
Given the constant growth of the medical IT market and high quality requirements, healthcare solutions need a smart approach to eliminate any inconveniences, pain points before the software will be blamed for irrevocable mistakes.
Based on a1qa almost 15-year experience in software testing for both ISVs and healthcare suppliers, we share our tried and tested tips to ensure that the solution is reliable, secure, well-performing and provides the required user experience for healthcare professionals, patients, administrative personnel and other parties involved.
Main points of testing reference
With the great variety of medical software solutions on the market, any of them should be mobile-friendly, secure, convenient, possess a user-friendly interface. Localization to all target markets or the world’s mostly used languages wouldn’t go amiss as well.
Healthcare IT testing strategy should include:
1. Functional testing
Healthcare software products provide complicated functionality that directly impacts humans. Therefore, assuring that the software functions as it was meant to – step number one for QA vendors. It makes no sense to go any further if the surgeon won’t be able to check in to the app from the operating theatre to inform about the need of the blood transfusion.
2. Performance testing
The app should respond fast. In the medical context, it’s not a passing fancy, but a necessity. Timely load and performance testing according to real-world scenarios and load metrics will guarantee the app won’t fail when it’s needed most and will handle as many concurrent users as it was developed to.
3. Vulnerability assessment and penetration testing
Healthcare software deals with confidential personal health information. And this information has become a target for high-profile cyber attacks. Back in May 2017, tens of thousands of computers at hospitals and GPs across the countries in Europe and Asia were hit. The malware blocked access to blood results, patients’ history and prescription files on a PC until a ransom was paid.
Kaspersky Lab estimated that 45,000 attacks had been carried out in 99 countries before the virus spread to the USA.
If anyone doubted about the importance of the security testing, 2017 dispelled them. Testing healthcare IT products for vulnerabilities is a top priority. Fortunately, QA providers have a legal framework to rely on.
HIPAA is the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that makes provisions for safeguarding patients information.
At a1qa, we assign medical software security testing on HIPAA-certified engineers who are fully competent to handle patients’ information to ensure its security.
4. UX testing
Usability testing is a crucial step within a healthcare setting. What does it have for a quality assurance team? First of all, it brings about the necessity to identify all roles of the software users, and develop diverse test cases to cover all user scenarios. A tester should be careful and meticulous to gather the right data and interpreting it in the correct way.
5. Assessing localization quality
It’s hardly possible to find a hospital where all the personnel and all patients belong to one nationality and speak a common language. To address the language issue, most developers strive to make their medical IT solutions international. Therefore, internationalization readiness and localization quality should be tested as well. It will guarantee that the app can be reliably used from any location by the representative of any linguistic group (the target one, of course).
6. Focus on mobile experience
Mobile devices have hugely impacted various fields, including healthcare. The mobile experience has transformed many aspects of clinical practice. Healthcare professionals have gained aid in patient management and monitoring, health records maintenance and access, and many other routine but still very important, tasks.
Therefore, testing specialists should pay special attention to assuring quality of the mobile apps. Selecting right suite of real mobile or/and wearable devices, developing accurate test cases and simulating real-use conditions are one of the most important steps to successful testing.
Domain knowledge accumulation is a must
Strong technology expertise is required to perform informative testing. However, domain knowledge is also very important. Healthcare is a highly regulated domain. Moreover, it is prone to constant changes. To be knowledgeable, we recommend testing specialists study reliable sources of healthcare information, online magazines, regular in-filed reports, etc.
The constant growth of IT investments by healthcare vendors signals the need for testing providers to practice medical software testing with the focus on domain regulations, security, performance, usability, and attention to mobile experience. And only a highly professional team with an eye to detail will help to eliminate all the bottlenecks before the software will be delivered to final users.
Today we’ve shared the basis of our medical software testing approach. To learn how we implemented the comprehensive approach in practice – click here.
Stay tuned to find out more testing insights from a1qa team.