Digitization has touched every realm of human activity, including the healthcare sector. The advancements in technology covering various aspects of the sector are staggering. Right from the admission desk at any healthcare facility and diagnostics to treatment and convalescent care, the impact of technology is difficult to miss. In fact, the dependence of the entire healthcare ecosystem on such technologies makes it vulnerable. What if the gadgets give wrong results? For example, physicians or surgeons depend on the ECG machine to measure vital parameters related to the patients’ hearts. They base their treatment protocol on the output generated by such a device. How can testing healthcare applications overcome the challenges they face?
Such dependence, though inevitable, can be a double-edged sword. In case the ECG device malfunctions and generates a wrong output, the physician would end up prescribing the wrong dosage of medicines to the hapless patient. This can turn out to be life-threatening for the patient for no fault of him or her. So, to ensure such an eventuality does not turn out to be true, healthcare application testing should be made mandatory and stringent. This is where industry regulations like HIPPA ensure healthcare devices work to their optimum and display the highest standard of quality.
Further, several computerized healthcare applications can now be accessed through the mobile network. Thus, the growth of m-healthcare is hinged on the penetration of smartphones and mobile networks. These applications deliver great advantages like quick access to relevant information, better documentation of patients’ health records, or improved decision making. With such applications, physicians can keep track of patients’ conditions remotely, even without being present at the healthcare facility. However, notwithstanding the advantages, there can be significant challenges related to application management, security, connectivity, and usability.
The role of healthcare applications in facilitating communication, disease monitoring, documentation, medical surveys, workflow management, and help makes them critical for healthcare software testing. The availability of timely information related to the health parameters of patients can be the difference between life and death. So, when so much is at stake, it is crucial that healthcare QA testing should be implemented stringently during the manufacturing process. Let us understand the biggest challenges confronting healthcare application testing.
Issues confronting healthcare software testing
Given the myriad operating systems and device platforms, QA experts delivering healthcare testing services can face a real ordeal.
1. Testing for compliance:
There are strict regulations and certifications that healthcare device manufacturers need to follow. These include standards such as HL7, HIPAA, CCD/CDA, and the latest ICD-10. Manufacturers should train their QA specialists about such standards and ensure they are strictly implemented to meet stringent specifications.
2. Testing for security:
Security has become the biggest criteria for device and software manufacturers to comply with. The growing threat of cybercrime and malware has meant devices, and the software running on them should not be vulnerable. For any such malware can wreak havoc with the lives of patients. Imagine a hacker entering the healthcare management system of a hospital and tampering with all the sensitive patient-related information. To avoid such a situation, healthcare app developing companies should implement tough healthcare app security testing in their production pipeline. This may involve penetration testing wherein resident vulnerabilities in the application are identified and fixed.
3. Big data and cloud:
With healthcare management systems moving to the cloud and hospitals leveraging big data to gain better insights, the healthcare app testing services are using virtualization to yield better results. The QA specialists should have the domain knowledge to test dashboard, BI reports, or data population against metrics while conforming to the business rules. However, proper encryption of data should be done to prevent any breach and related consequences.
4. Mobile device testing:
With the wide penetration of smartphones and the convenience of using healthcare applications, stakeholders in the sector would use them in greater numbers. The stakeholders, including doctors, nurses, patients, healthcare professionals, and pharmacists would use these apps for a host of activities such as better information access, patient monitoring, and following the treatment protocol, among others. However, since mobile devices are a dime a dozen and operating systems and browsers are updated frequently, healthcare application testing can be a big challenge. For starters, every healthcare application needs to be tested across multiple platforms like Android, Windows, and iOS. During healthcare QA testing, QA engineers must carry out testing for the below-mentioned considerations:
- The application should be secure, reliable, and accurate to deliver superior UX.
- Third-party APIs should be thoroughly tested for errors or bugs, and data synced from such applications should be validated.
- The application should be easy-to-use and intuitive so that every stakeholder can use it without any prior training.
- The application should conform to various regulatory standards.
- Access hierarchies should be adequately tested, as different stakeholders would have different roles and responsibilities. For example, a pharmacist should not be able to access the section used by doctors.
- All status verification and alerts should be adequately tested and verified.
- The entire end-to-end software should be tested, especially the areas of interconnected workflows.
- The application should be tested for its performance on various browsers and OS versions. And since this aspect might not be feasible, QA testers can leverage the tool of virtualization. Accordingly, conditions for testing are simulated and executed.
Healthcare application testing has assumed a critical role, given its wide-ranging dimensions. The associated challenges need to be tackled on a firm footing so that every stakeholder can trust the application and derive benefits.