Unlocking the Power of Automated Software Testing in Healthcare


Automated Software Testing


As if jolted by a defibrillator, the heartbeat of the healthcare industry is pounding at a frenetic digital pace.


It’s an industry-wide transformation turbocharged by an integration of diverse technological trends: electronic medical records (EMR), telehealth, AI-assisted healthcare, big data, and more. More than a mere trend, these digital solutions have evolved into the lifeblood of medical practices. Yet ensuring their proper functioning requires comprehensive and robust healthcare software testing.


The growing popularity of digital health care carries a host of reasons in its wake, including a shortage of healthcare workers and improved access to healthcare services. The World Health Organization predicts a shortage of approximately 10 million health workers by 2030. Additionally, a recent survey reveals that 86% of telemedicine users agree that it has made it easier for them to receive the care they need.

The mandate of digital health is triple-fold: efficiency, improved patient care, and a scalpel to the swelling costs of healthcare. However, this mandate comes with its own intricate labyrinth of challenges. A recent joint survey by HIMSS and Keysight from major US healthcare providers unveils a triptych of healthcare Software Testing Services challenges. It casts a spotlight on the daily battles faced by quality assurance engineers, navigators charting the complex currents of healthcare provision.


Challenge #1: Insufficient Scalability with Manual / DIY Testing Approaches


Unlike other industries that have embraced test automation at scale, the healthcare sector has been slow to adopt these practices. According to the Vital Signs survey, only 15% of healthcare providers have implemented modern test automation platforms, while 38% still rely on manual testing methods and 44% opt for do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches.


As electronic medical record (EMR) systems become increasingly customized and updated more frequently, healthcare providers are recognizing the need for software testing to meet the growing requirements. The HIMSS study reveals that three-quarters of respondents have been allocating more resources to this critical area. Despite these efforts, nearly two-thirds of the respondents confess to a lack of resources – whether time, budget, or talent – to successfully scale software testing for the future. These limitations can rear their heads in the form of delayed software delivery times, critical EMR defects, increasing cases of EMR-triggered burnout among healthcare professionals, and more.


Insufficient scalability in software testing can result in significant challenges and negative consequences for the healthcare sector. It hampers the ability to deliver software updates and enhancements in a timely manner, which can impede the adoption of new technologies and hinder the improvement of patient care. Moreover, critical defects in EMR systems can compromise patient safety and lead to adverse outcomes.


Challenge #2: Inconsistent Cross-Platform Testing Coverage for Interoperability

Interoperability testing plays a crucial role in healthcare software as the seamless exchange of information between different software systems, devices, and organizations is essential for providing secure and high-quality patient care. Healthcare software must work together harmoniously to safeguard patient data and streamline effective care delivery.


There is an incredible opportunity for AI to play in this space, just given the amount of data, the number of variables, and the complexity of the problem. However, another recent study highlights that approximately 80% of serious medical errors result from miscommunication during patient care transitions. This root cause is often traced back to poor interoperability. The integration of legacy systems with different versions of electronic medical record (EMR) systems and other modern healthcare applications has increased the complexity of software testing requirements. A single glitch in the software can trigger a domino effect across multiple interconnected systems, highlighting the need for seamless and secure data communication and exchange.


However, manual and DIY testing approaches often struggle to keep pace with the constant and simultaneous changes in multiple interconnected components. These traditional testing methods are time-consuming, prone to errors, and inadequate for thoroughly testing the integration and interoperability of healthcare software.


The survey findings reveal that only 4 out of 10 respondents who rely on manual or DIY testing approaches are satisfied with their organizations’ ability to develop test coverage across platforms. This indicates that these approaches are unable to effectively address the complexities associated with integration and interoperability testing in the healthcare sector.


Challenge #3: Inability to Maintain Effective DIY Testing Approaches


Although the DIY testing approach is adopted by 44% of healthcare organizations, it may initially seem appealing due to the availability of open-source tools and libraries. However, the survey findings suggest that unforeseen maintenance challenges can make the DIY approach untenable and counterproductive in the long run.


The survey reveals that only 38% of respondents were satisfied with their organization’s ability to fulfill all pre-release requirements. This indicates that healthcare organizations relying on DIY testing approaches often struggle to meet the necessary standards and criteria before software release.


One of the significant barriers in the DIY approach is the requirement for extensive technical expertise to effectively maintain test cases. Without a solid understanding of test automation frameworks, managing the intricate processes of test creation, execution, and test case management becomes overwhelming. Healthcare software testing teams need to possess the necessary skills and knowledge to leverage these tools effectively.


Moreover, healthcare organizations may initially perceive the DIY approach as a cost-effective option. However, they may later realize that they require additional functionalities that necessitate new custom modules or coding. This can result in delays in testing and deployment, increased costs, and potential risks to patient safety.

The DIY approach to testing in healthcare software may lack the necessary scalability, flexibility, and reliability compared to specialized testing solutions. Open-source tools may not always meet the specific requirements and complexities of healthcare systems, leading to limitations in test coverage and accuracy.


Embrace Automated Healthcare Software Testing


Fear not, for there is a path through this digital storm.

Testing healthcare software solutions requires specialized knowledge and expertise due to the complexity and critical nature of the healthcare industry. The study by HIMSS reveals that the 15% of early adopters who embraced test automation platforms have seen remarkable improvements in their test analytics and scalability for future challenges.


For more insights on the benefits of test automation, please check out the full “Vital Signs” report which offers a quantitative analysis of the challenges in software testing for healthcare stakeholders. It also provides valuable guidance for improving patient outcomes by optimizing EMR testing coverage.