In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems have become indispensable tools for clinicians. The widespread adoption of these digital platforms by approximately 80% of office-based physicians in the United States demonstrates their significance in modern healthcare. However, as the complexity of patient data management and the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices increase, ensuring patient safety in this digital realm has become a paramount concern.
To gain insights into the key trends and future projections for testing these critical systems, Keysight and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) released a report on the state of healthcare software testing. The survey aimed to shed light on the crucial role of EMR quality assurance in modern healthcare systems and the challenges faced by Quality Assurance (QA) leaders in testing.
The Keysight/HIMSS study revealed that 38% of providers still rely on manual testing approaches, where testing teams perform repetitive tasks, from test case creation to maintenance, to identify defects. Furthermore, 44% of providers use a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach, maintaining in-house testing solutions. However, these approaches are not scalable enough to meet the rapid growth and complexity of testing requirements.
Addressing the Healthcare Software Testing Crisis
Manual testing, though a longstanding practice, presents various limitations. The repetitive nature of manual testing creation and execution is not only counterproductive but also leaves room for human error. As EMRs become more intricate and go on faster update cycles, manual testing becomes less scalable and less efficient in identifying potential issues.
The DIY approach, while seemingly cost-effective and customizable, also falls short in addressing the challenges faced by healthcare providers. Maintaining in-house testing solutions requires significant resources, including time, expertise, and infrastructure. As testing requirements become more complex, providers often struggle to keep up with the necessary skill sets and technological infrastructure to ensure comprehensive testing.
As a result, the survey revealed that nearly 2-in-3 US providers reported resource bottlenecks to scaling current testing practices to meet future requirements.
“The results of our joint survey with Keysight highlight gaps in software testing across healthcare providers,” said Nicole Ramage, Sr. Market Insights Manager, HIMSS. “It is clear that the industry understands the value of implementing automation technologies to ensure software quality, which in turn can improve patient care.”
Improving Scalability and Efficiency with Automation
The future of healthcare software testing holds exciting possibilities with advances in automation, machine learning, and non-invasive testing platforms. These innovative technologies offer promising solutions to meet the growing demands of testing without compromising on quality.
One of the key benefits highlighted in the report is the scalability achieved through software test automation platforms. These platforms enable organizations to streamline their testing processes, reduce time-consuming manual tasks, and improve the accuracy and efficiency of defect detection. Early adopters that have integrated automation into their testing processes experienced significant enhancements in scalability, positioning themselves for future digital challenges. One notable finding is that test automation led to a remarkable 2.2X increase in respondents’ satisfaction ratings with their organization’s ability to scale and meet evolving testing requirements.
Key Considerations for Healthcare Software Testers
The opportunities for automated software testing in healthcare are undeniable, and it is crucial to take action to leverage these benefits. Here are three actionable steps for those venturing into automated software testing or transitioning to a platform-based approach:
- Understand Healthcare Standards and Requirements: To ensure the safety and compliance of EMR systems, QA teams must have a solid understanding of the healthcare standards and requirements. Familiarize yourself with industry regulations like DICOM and HIPAA to ensure that the testing process covers all necessary aspects. Collaborate closely with domain experts to gain insights into the functionality, clinical usage, and environment in which the software will be utilized. This knowledge will enable more effective and comprehensive testing.
- Check Cross Dependency of Software: As EMR systems become more complex and interconnected, changes made to one component or layer can have unintended consequences on other parts of the system. It is crucial to thoroughly test the entire system to identify and address any potential side effects or dependencies. This approach ensures that changes or updates do not compromise the overall functionality and stability of the EMR system.
- Improve Long-term Productivity: To enhance productivity in the long run, healthcare organizations should focus on providing business testers with user-friendly tools and resources. By reducing learning curves and streamlining processes, organizations can empower testers to allocate more time to strategic initiatives that contribute to overall efficiency and bottom-line results. Investing in training and user-friendly automation tools can significantly enhance productivity and effectiveness in software testing.
By taking these actions, healthcare organizations can effectively embrace automated software testing, ensuring compliance, mitigating risks, and enhancing productivity.
The “Vital Signs” report offers invaluable insights for healthcare organizations looking to optimize their software testing strategies. It presents a comprehensive analysis of the impact of manual and DIY approaches and a roadmap to adopting software test automation platforms in HIPAA-regulated environments.