Testing Healthcare Applications Step by Step

Andrew M. by Andrew M. on 06/30/2022

Testing Healthcare Applications Step by Step

Healthcare software is very popular and important because it helps practitioners to serve patients better. The complexity of such software systems imposes certain conditions on their development and testing. As a company that provides technical support to a few industry-leading healthcare software companies, we are no strangers to quality assurance practices for custom medical software specifically.

What users expect from healthcare software

Medical requirements change rapidly in order to adapt to the most recent discoveries in science, which is a good thing, of course. However, this means the more advanced healthcare becomes, the higher get users’ expectations from the software for it. In the days when everything is highly dependent on technology, medical device software development companies have no other choice but to meet the highest of a standard. This is well reflected in the custom healthcare software development: if a team wants its digital product to be useful, it has to fully correspond to the following requirements:

Reliability

Unreliable software that doesn’t perform as you expect it is always annoying, to say the least. But when it comes to the industry that deals with matters of life and death on a daily basis, the responsibility gets to a whole new level. Medical applications have to deliver error-free performance regardless of the workload or content-heavy databases. This can be achieved only through the quality-first approach to healthcare software testing and development.

Compatibility

There are three main components of any healthcare system: human factor, hardware, and software. All of these have to work in lockstep with each other in order to keep patient care effective. This explains why healthcare entities often prefer to work with a custom healthcare software development company rather than buy an off-the-shelf solution. Custom development allows practitioners to achieve a program specifically tailored to their operations instead of some average systems for average hospitals as imagined by software providers.

Testing Healthcare Applications Step by Step-2

Ease of use (aka UI/UX)

Medical software design defines how easy it will be to use the final product, and with healthcare applications high usability is crucial. This is because the target audience of such software is extremely diverse: from busy personnel working at hospitals to patients using apps to control their conditions, track medicine consumption, schedule appointments, etc. Not all of them have a high level of computer skills nor have time and/or willingness to learn how to use some sophisticated-looking programs. To avoid possible troubles, the UI/UX design of medical applications has to be clear, concise, and intuitive. 

Privacy and security

One of the primary aims of healthcare software systems is to collect and store patient data. Such records are considered sensitive information so no wonder people are concerned about keeping it confidential. Data storage solutions remain one of the complex components of healthcare applications. Oftentimes, developers go for data encryption technologies like Blockchain to make the information stored less prone to attacks.

Rich integrations

Whether we are talking about healthcare software for professional or personal use, it won’t find user appreciation without useful integrations. APIs allow developers to expand the feature set of their product without building from scratch thereby saving resources and time to market. In regards to medical software development, you can find a ton of APIs designed for patients, doctors, and even scientists who contribute to the healthcare industry through studies and researches (like GluVue by Stanford University).

Regulatory & conformance compliance

Healthcare services cannot be distributed without abidance by the corresponding regulatory acts and laws, like HIPAA in the United Stated or NHS White Paper in the United Kingdom. This especially applies to CRM systems for healthcare institutions and SaaS medical solutions. Also, healthcare software has to correspond to the high industry standard and provide the content that aligns with the most recent scientific discoveries and condition protocols.

Testing Healthcare Applications Step by Step-4
“Unreliable software that doesn’t perform as expected is annoying, to say the least. But when it comes to the industry that deals with matters of life and death on a daily basis, the responsibility gets to a whole new level.”.

Healthcare software testing process by process

Testing is the only way to assure the software works as required. Having outlined the user expectations from healthcare software development services, you can see there are a lot of aspects to check when working on such projects. That is why the quality assurance for medical software is usually a multi-level activity that tests an app from different angles. Below are the key processes of medical software quality assurance explained.

Load & smoke testing

Load and smoke testing refer to the basic software testing techniques: put the developed component under some level of load (in the case with smoke testing ― under the minimal one) and document the results. Smoke testing is used at the earlier stages of development to check how a program reacts to low pressure. The actual load testing takes place later and uses more realistic or even overstated levels of workload on the product.

Data security testing

Data security testing is aimed at discovering weaknesses in the application’s codebase. If this step isn’t taken seriously, it may result in data losses, unauthorized users, hacker attacks, and other accidents that might discredit the application. Security QA is usually performed as a penetration test, a sort of staged attack on the app’s digital system. Other than checking the hack-proof quality of software, data security testing can also exploit it in many different ways to come up with scenarios that would help to repel an attack when needed.

Compatibility testing

Compatibility testing checks how a program interacts with the ecosystem it is supposed to run on, including hardware, network, operating systems, and browsers. To check an application for compatibility, QA engineers try it on all devices, with all versions of operating systems, and in all browsers that were initially picked during the project planning stage.

Integration testing

Integration testing studies how different modules of a software system integrate with each other. Depending on the technique QA engineers choose to run integration tests ― top-down, bottom-up, functional incremental testing, sandwich testing, or big-bang one ― it can be done at different stages of development. Also, during this step, all the software modules are tested both independently and as a whole. 

Usability testing

This type of testing reveals how usable and ergonomic the medical software design of a particular application is. In order to make it more effective, QA teams might run UX/UI testing twice. First time, during the design phase, to reveal the unclear steps in the interface prototype, and the second time after the product’s beta version is developed. With the finalized product version, testers usually work with a focus group to get real-life feedback. 

Localization testing

Localization testing applies to products that are aimed to be used in different regions. Since the healthcare regulations can vary greatly from country (state, province, etc.) to country, this should be reflected in the application’s local version as well. This includes language, integrations widely used in the region, government regulations, and even marketing strategy.  

Testing Healthcare Applications Step by Step

Summing up

Medical software testing might seem overly complex, but this is only because the responsibility behind this process is even higher compared to other projects. The described above steps and techniques aimed at polishing a medical application to the point the release of it would be valuable for the industry, useful for clinicians, and relieving for patients. Our background with medical and healthcare applications taught us to never settle for less than an A to Z tested application before the release, as well as ongoing improvement and post-launch support.

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Written by
Andrew M., Technical Writer

Andrew is an insatiably curious geek who loves writing about technological innovation, business development, and digital transformation in the globalized world. Throughout more than 5 years of experience as a writer for different media, startups, and tech companies, Andrew has meticulously studied every aspect of the tech industry and loves sharing his knowledge with the international community.

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