The Importance of QA Testing Healthcare Technology

QA testing is always important.

No matter your app or your industry, quality assurance practices are imperative to gaining and maintaining the trust and interest of users. But with healthcare technology, testing takes on elevated importance.

Consider the size of the healthcare market in the United States alone: The industry is larger than Britain’s entire economy and, in the last quarter of 2017, healthcare surpassed manufacturing and retail as the largest source of jobs in the US.

It should come as no surprise then that innovations in healthcare technology are developing rapidly—there are heart rate apps and calorie counting apps and nutrition planning apps and healthcare provider apps and mindfulness apps, too!

Healthcare technology app on a mobile phoneEarlier this year, TechCrunch reporter, Joanna Glasner said: “Though tech may dominate the headlines in startup-land, it’s bio and healthcare that are seeing record influxes of capital.” And just last week, Apple opened its new Health Records API to developers, making it possible for users to share medical records with their favorite health apps.

These digital innovations are vital—they make it easier (and let’s be honest, more fun!) for people to optimize and maintain good health, and they help increase access to good health for everyone.

But with all of this important change there also arises an increased opportunity for technical bugs that don’t just hinder the user experience—they hinder the user’s access to the sometimes life-or-death information and technology that they need to survive.

The Importance of QA Testing in the Healthcare Domain

While there is a low tolerance for errors in all applications—especially to those of us who work in the testing world—it’s especially important in healthcare, when highly personal and confidential information is at stake.

The workflow of healthcare applications highlights the necessity of testing, as well: health technology can be complex and have a number of important factors at play that require specific, unique test cases that mirror the myriad number of user experiences.

That’s why QA testing is so important for healthcare technology specifically. In today’s post, we’ll review these industry-specific distinctions in greater detail and highlight the necessary testing methodologies to help avoid potential issues—from simply annoying to life-threatening.

Healthcare Technology App on Apple Watch 4

Ensuring Functionality

Making sure an app functions properly is perhaps one of the most important tests you can run—after all, if your app always crashes or features don’t load, what’s the point of having an app in the first place? You’ll quickly lose users.

But functionality has added importance for health-related apps. If an app doesn’t function as its supposed to—for instance, if an app meant to track a dip in insulin levels for diabetes patients has a connectivity issue, the result is not just an annoyed user . . . it’s a potentially very sick user.

There’s a higher standard placed on ensuring the functionality of applications that involve users’ health—whether sharing life-or-death information or simply tracking daily workouts, users have rightly come to expect that the healthcare technology on their phones and watches functions properly.

Information Security

HealthcareITNews shared that, in 2017, healthcare apps were still a major (and, in some cases, easy) target for hackers. Major security breaches put health records, personal identification, and billing information at risk.

Putting aside the risk and hassle of having your bank account information leaked, Electronic Health Records (EHR) store all of a patient’s’ health-related information. We’re talking past medical history, medications, and personal information like social security numbers, too. For reasons ranging from fear of discrimination to a general desire for privacy, this is information that—quite understandably—most people want to keep confidential.

QA testing is not just meant to ensure your app doesn’t crash or to confirm that it works on both iOS and Android. It goes beyond that—which is especially important with healthcare technology, where information security is so significant.

Testing your healthcare technology protects you (and your users) from the bugs that undermine the safety of very personal data. And working with a professional QA testing team—with in-house, internally-trained, and vetted testers—ensures the confidentiality of this information (and of your code) throughout the testing process.

Accessibility Compliance

Pie chart identifying percentages of Americans with disabilities, including vision impairment, hearing impairment, physical impairment, and cognitive impairmentWhile not all healthcare applications are required to be compliant with the guidelines of the Americans Disability Act (ADA), healthcare websites—such as those belonging to hospitals and doctors’ offices—are required to be accessible . . . and really, all health-related applications should be.

In our recent post on accessibility testing, we shared that accessibility ensures that your app is not just usable, but that the experience of using it is equivalent for everyone. For any application that purports to care about and support the well-being of its users (which, hopefully, every healthcare application does!), accessibility to that app should be a primary concern as well.

That’s why accessibility testing is so uniquely important for healthcare technology. Accessibility testing looks for the “bugs” in your application that highlight where the user experience may be inhibited specifically for people with disabilities.

The World Wide Web Consortium released an update to their web content accessibility guidelines last week—but even if you don’t follow their guidelines to the letter, you can work to make your web or mobile application more accessible by optimizing text spacing and sizing, adding captions to photos and videos, and making all elements available for screen readers.

Usability of Healthcare Applications

The healthcare domain is unique both in its complexity and in its use case. And because the use of healthcare technology can quite literally be life or death, ensuring the functionality and usability of applications is of utmost significance, too.

This is why it’s so important for your QA testing team to have not only a holistic and thorough understanding of the healthcare domain, but also a unique user perspective to review and improve the overall experience. QA professionals who are trained in testing healthcare applications are well-versed in creating and executing the test scenarios that mimic the realistic actions of users.

The goal is to ensure that an application is intuitive and easy-to-use, leading users through a logical and functional set of steps that leads them to their intended purpose for using the app in the first place.

Testing Healthcare Technology

Man sitting at a desk testing healthcare technology mobile apps on a tabletClearly, testing healthcare applications carries its own sort of significance. So while the following testing methods are integral in many testing processes, they take on added consequence when testing healthcare technology:

Functionality Testing: By creating user scenarios and reviewing all possible workflows, QA testers can ensure that your app functions as its supposed to—with every page loading and every link working properly.

Security Testing: This testing methodology specifically tests for flaws or weaknesses in the features of an application that protect user data. It ensures the privacy users’ expect from the application.

Accessibility Testing: Testing for accessibility means taking into consideration people with impairments—whether they be physical, auditory, visual, or cognitive—and incorporating alternative access to your app or website for those people.

Usability Testing: This form of testing—which is meant to determine whether an application is easy to use for its intended audience—is often performed by actual users or by professionals with the experience to follow a realistic user scenario and offer relevant insight and recommendations for improvement.

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With healthcare technology, the security of personal information, compliance with (or even an acknowledgment of) accessibility regulations, and an intuitive user experience are all important considerations that necessitate high-quality QA testing from a professional team. A high-quality QA testing team can provide the professional testing services mentioned above, while also testing for functionality, compatibility, and connectivity, too.

Connect with us if you’re interested in learning more about our professional team and healthcare app testing experience at PLUS QA.

Image of Apple Health Records API via https://www.apple.com/healthcare/health-records/
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