Covid-19 is a catastrophe that was completely unexpected, one of the best examples of a Black Swan event. It has not only caused irreparable damage to economies around the world, but has also had long-lasting health effects on people, and the industry itself. The pandemic has forced countries to look closely at their health infrastructure. Even some of the world’s most developed countries did not find it easy to handle the crisis.
In a post-pandemic world, the quality of healthcare disbursal is something that needs more focus. In this article, we are going to look at how the quality of healthcare software can be strengthened in a world that isn’t affected by the pandemic anymore.
Let us look at the type of healthcare apps that are presently available.
Types of healthcare apps:
According to SensorTower, healthcare apps surged 53% in usage in Q2 2021. When it was measured last, Google Play had 53,054 healthcare apps worldwide, it represented an increase of 6.51% over the previous quarter. The hype surrounding healthcare apps is real and these numbers are a testament to it. Let us look at the type of healthcare apps available in the market.
1. Medicine reminder apps:
For people who forget to take their medicines, there are apps that remind them about their medications. It is extremely effective for people who have dementia as it sends them to push notifications to remind them about their medication. These apps have other functionalities too that make them attractive- real-time updating, monitoring, and analytics.
Example: PillPack, MedMinder, Medisafe, CareZone.
2. Appointment scheduling apps:
A scheduling app lets you make and manage appointments with your doctor. Apps like these are extremely useful for patients to find doctors, and vice versa.
Example: AppointmentPlus, PatientPop, Vagaro, NexHealth, Mend
3. Medicine delivery apps:
With most people forced to be inside their homes because of Covid-19-powered lockdowns, apps that deliver medicines have become even more popular than it was earlier. People can make the payment online and get the medicines delivered directly to their homes.
Example: CVS Pharmacy, 1MG, Medlife, RiteAid, NowRx.
4. Online consultation apps:
For people who want to access medical care from the convenience of their homes, they will find telemedicine applications incredibly convenient. Unless absolutely necessary to walk into a healthcare center, patients can simply schedule an online appointment with their doctor and get their medical issues resolved virtually.
Example: Medscape, HealthTap, Teladoc Health, MDLIVE.
5.Diagnosis assistant apps:
These are the kind of apps which provide health care record access. It also reviews electronic charts, lab test details, results, digital imaging, and provides information about other possible symptoms as well.
Example: Symptomate, Healow, PEPID.
6. Mindfulness apps:
The pandemic has affected everyone’s mental health adversely. It is pivotal that all of us take care of our mental health. These are apps which facilitate meditation, yoga, mindfulness and more.
Example: Insight Timer, Smiling Mind, Mylife Meditation, Healthy Minds Program.
7. Health education apps:
There are healthcare apps which provide information that will help with your health. It will let you access important healthcare journals, current trends in the healthcare industry and care delivery, updates on tackling the latest Covid variant, etc. It will empower people to protect themselves and their loved ones from diseases.
Example: Draw MD Apps, CardioTeach, Miniatlas Apps, Educreations, WebMD.
Why do healthcare apps fail?
Let us look at some of the reasons why healthcare apps fail even if it has the right functionalities in it.
- Poor understanding of the healthcare environment
- Mediocre UI/UX
- Lack of involvement from the clinicians during the development stage
- Poor app usability
- Developing the app with clear objectives
Healthcare organizations need to ensure that the above issues are not there when they develop software for their patients or internal purposes.
Benefits of healthcare app development:
Some of the most common features that are included in healthcare apps are: tracking, payment, scheduling, social integration, photo gallery, analytics, prescription, reviews, access to EHR, push notifications. Depending on the type of application that one is referring to, there could be more features.
The benefits of healthcare app development are as follows:
- Monitoring patient information
- Remote patient monitoring
- Collecting data remotely
- Electronic access to health records, diagnostic reports, scans, etc.
- Get notifications of doctor appointments
- Scheduling appointments with doctors based on reviews
- Keep in touch with your healthcare professionals
- Facilitates easier communication between the patient and the doctors
- Get access to information about hospitals, type of care available, availability of doctors
- Better time management for both the healthcare centers and patients
- Get emergency medical attention
- Manage chronic diseases remotely
- Stay updated about your vitals
How to strengthen healthcare software quality:
A healthcare software is not like any other app. Imagine the consequences of a healthcare app showing wrong results! It could result in the patient being given the wrong type of treatment, and the after-effects can be dangerous. Healthcare software should be of the highest quality and the application developers should always be mindful of the ramifications of a poorly developed app. Let us look at some of the ways to strengthen the quality of healthcare applications.
1. HIPAA compliance:
Compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is not only mandated by law, but it is also important to keep the software safe and secure. HIPAA is a regulatory requirement which focuses on the privacy and security of the health-related data of patients. To be compliant with HIPAA, it is imperative that you have QA specialists who have domain-specific knowledge.
Each QA procedure should be HIPAA compliant. For testing HIPAA compliance, authorization, authenticity, accessibility, data usage, transfer protocol, encryption, auditing and structuring are essential components that needs to be focused on.
The ability of two or more systems to exchange health information and use it judiciously is called interoperability. The data transfers between the healthcare systems should comply with a few standards. The standards are Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), Health Level Seven (HL7), and Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM). The standards depend on the kind of data transfers that happen across EHR systems, mobile systems, etc.
FHIR- Its objective is to simplify interface building with API. They are widely adopted across multiple applications within the organization.
HL7- It is a standard for the exchange, retrieval and merging of health data to ensure that the data transfer is accurate. The data is comprehensively tested with tools such as NIST Message Validator, MQF Validation Tool, Message Workbench, etc.
DICOM- It is an international standard for safe medical image viewing, storage, sharing, and analytics.
Ensuring that the above standards are met for interoperability is important to strengthen the healthcare software quality.
3. Addressing needs of multiple users:
When you build a software, you need to take into account the different types of users who will access it, especially a healthcare software. It not only must address the specific needs of patients, but it should also take into account how the caregivers, insurers, healthcare centers, and the administrative staff will use it. It is imperative that you take care of the testing process by looking at it from a 360-degree angle.
People with special needs might require a few more functionalities than others. Senior citizens will require an application that is extremely simple to navigate, so you need to ensure that the user interface is simple and uncluttered. Insurers will want to access the patient records to assess the claims, so you need to add special functionalities for that. A physician will want to see the progress made by the patient so far. Each of these requirements should be tested separately and together so that everyone’s needs are addressed.
4. Interactive UI/UX designs:
To deliver better usability to the functionalities of the software, application developers need to concentrate on the UI/UX. The average user of a healthcare software is someone who has health issues, and that needs to be taken into consideration as they might have limitations in navigating the app with ease, unlike everyone else.
Ensure that you use the right colors, align the text properly, employ readable fonts, and easily recognizable icons to build an attractive user interface. All the UX elements should be visible and easy to use.
5. Continuous QA process:
To make the software address all the issues, healthcare organizations should ensure that the software works without any loopholes. It is to be noted that issues with a healthcare software’s quality might negatively affect the health of a patient. This is where having a continuous QA process is pivotal. There should be constant monitoring of the software, get feedback constantly from the stakeholders and adopt the changes into the software.
Add an efficient QA process into the operations so that it becomes an integral part of how you operate. Adopting the latest technologies for effective testing will be the backbone of your QA process. Healthcare organizations should integrate software testing and quality assurance into the development lifecycle. There should be quality engineers who test continuously through the development process so that the end product is in line with the healthcare requirements.
6. Testing patient-facing systems:
Patient portals are extremely important in the healthcare software ecosystem. They help patients track their treatment, medications required, and go through their entire EHR information. Using this application, they can schedule appointments with doctors and send messages as well. It also provides them the option to review and pay their medical bills.
To ensure that patient portals work as expected, QA engineers should conduct performance, functionality and usability testing. Doing so will ensure that the portal is user-friendly, has higher adoption rates and keep the customers satisfied.
7. Test internal systems:
For healthcare institutions to run smoothly, the medical practice management (MPM) software is critical. Thanks to the interconnectedness of IT systems in a healthcare software, a small issue can put the entire infrastructure at risk. Just to give you an example, imagine if the doctor’s appointments gets erased or patient data doesn’t get synced immediately, it can have serious implications.
8. Data Analytics and Reporting:
There is a huge trove of data that is collected from patients- healthcare records, medicines prescribed, diagnostic reports, etc. They should be stored in a structured and protected format so that it is easy to retrieve for both the patient as well as the healthcare organization.
Having a data analytics engine as a part of the healthcare software will help the healthcare organization immensely. They will be able to predict trends, provide better care for patients, optimize their operations, etc. The healthcare software should be able to create effective reports based on a number of filtering options. By allowing them to manipulate the data to create reports, hospitals will be able to study the progress of the treatments effectively using a number of data points.
Best practices to boost healthcare QA confidence:
- Understand the opportunities that exist for improvement. Look at statistics and reports from EHR, studies, and other data sources to identify key areas for improvement.
- Set measurable goals to identify areas that need the most improvement
- Assemble an effective team of experts from a variety of backgrounds, including clinical experts
- Include human factors engineering. It is a body of knowledge about human abilities, limitations, and other aspects that are pivotal to the design of an application.
- Employ test-oriented software
- Conduct Formal Technical Reviews (FTR)
- Ensure HIPAA compliance and other standards
- Implement User Acceptance Testing. It involves end-user testing, black box testing, alpha and beta testing
- Optimize automated testing
- Employ code quality measurements so that there is high performance and identifying bugs also becomes easy
- Coordination between the teams
We have learnt some of the most effective strategies that can be used to strengthen the quality of the healthcare software. Adopting agile techniques, using QA specialists, and ensuring that developers, testers and domain-knowledge experts work together will help build high quality software products. The need of the hour are healthcare apps that does what it is supposed to do, but without any errors.
If you want to develop applications for your healthcare organization, Zuci would be more than happy to be your technological partner. Get in touch with us to understand how we can create a highly functional and effective healthcare software for your organization.
Looking to improve your software testing? Take a look at Zuci’s software testing services and see how you can leverage Zuci for your business needs.