Dr. John Bates, CEO of Eggplant discusses the importance of testing software and technology before its adoption.

Technology has had major impacts on the healthcare industry and played an important role in helping to stop the spread of Coronavirus, accelerating the development of different tools to trace those with symptoms and hasten the delivery of treatment for diagnoses. It has also had a vital part to play in the transformation of healthcare, with the help of new innovations and advancements of existing digital tools, causing breakthroughs in research and medical treatments. Technology and healthcare go hand in hand!

Quality in the healthcare system is paramount, and software happens to be involved in every stage of a patient’s visit to the hospital – Electronic Medical Records (EMR), Admissions, Discharges and Transfers (ADT), Picture Archive and Communication System (PACS), labs, pharmacy, billing and the “connected hospital”. With life or death decisions hinging on the performance and reliability of digital healthcare systems, organisations simply have no choice but to get it right. Testing digital products is critical to patient safety.

Adoption of digital health

Over the past few months, healthcare workers have come under an immense amount of stress and pressure, turning to technology and re-evaluating their digital transformation plans and ways patients are cared for.

Healthcare providers are adopting technology-enabled care (TEC), mainly mobile and digitally enabled technology, due to its potential to decrease costs and provide accurate diagnoses and better outcomes. With lockdown measures put in place, doctors needed to find alternatives to provide remote care for their patients and offer a personalised experience similar to one they would have under normal circumstances. In an effort to decrease hospital visits, so those battling the virus could be cared for and avoid the spread of germs, telemedicine has seen a spike in adoption, allowing people to receive the medical aid they need whilst remaining at home.

As the industry continues to rapidly innovate, new technology and software will be introduced at a faster pace. Already artificial intelligence (AI) is accelerating the development of new diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines, as well as being used in developing apps for contact tracing, monitoring mental health and keeping people connected while remote. With AI, healthcare professionals are getting better at understanding the needs of their patients at a faster pace, and are able to provide better assessment, advice and support for keeping healthy.

Software needs to work seamlessly with medical equipment and digital health records to improve both patient care and reduce costly expenses. However, the experience patients have can affect their loyalty to the practice, which adds new pressures on technical teams to ensure the user journey is smooth.

Testing for quality patient care

Similar to the highly trained medical staff who have gone through rigorous testing to ensure they are able to deliver the best possible care for their patients, the same needs to happen to the massive range of technology used to treat patients, monitor their progress, and update their records. Healthcare professionals have become dependent on technology and demand that these products and systems meet the highest standards of quality and reliability. In this industry, if the right information isn’t shared between the right systems at the right times, it can have dire consequences.

People place great trust in healthcare providers, and healthcare providers rely upon technologies to deliver life-improving and life-saving services. Technological developments have allowed patient care to become safer and more reliable, and have allowed workers to record important data and update medical history; however, if interfaces aren’t properly tested, patients could be exposed to significant risk.

As technology evolves, there is a growing need to release and deploy new software faster, whilst improving efficiency and significantly delivering successful patient outcomes. Software testing needs to be top of mind in order to provide a frictionless, high-quality digital experience. In the healthcare sector, there is zero excuse for functionality, performance or usability issues, or downtime.

Testing software with every new release is essential to make sure it is bug-free and provides an enjoyable user journey. Automating this process removes the chance of manual error and allows professionals to focus on more rewarding work. A modern testing approach can be used across numerous applications along with continuously monitoring performance to spot and address any issues before they can impact the organisation.

The next normal in healthcare

The pandemic has motivated many hospitals and medical practices to push digital transformation forward, and patients care pivoting toward telehealth. A McKinsey report found that approximately 20% of all emergency room visits could potentially be avoided via virtual urgent care offerings. While we will see telemedicine continue to grow, as more people become accustomed to digital and enjoy the convenience of not leaving the house for a doctor visit, there are still concerns, from data privacy to effectiveness compared to in-person visits, that will need to be addressed before a full investment is made.

As we prepare for the next normal, it will be imperative to make sure new technology and applications work properly and identify any failures early on. Through end-to-end test automation, quality software can be delivered at a much faster pace while simultaneously freeing up the necessary teams to focus on providing the best patient care.