Healthcare App Testing For Newbies

The pandemic has switched our focus back to the healthcare system. People tend to get more concerned about their health and leverage modern technologies to know more about both their physical and mental state. What's more, healthcare mobile app development has emerged as a promise to transform the paper-based system into a digitized one to ensure effective care and patient safety. 

No wonder that healthcare application development has become a fertile ground for businesses and many companies felt the urge to develop their own healthcare app. However, healthcare applications have many peculiarities that make both their development and testing a challenging task. 

What are these peculiarities and challenges, how to test such an application, and what are the main areas of focus while developing and testing one? We tried to give answers to these and other questions in this article.

Healthcare Application Market Overview

But let’s start with the healthcare application market overview and the trends that go hand in hand with healthcare app testing. 

According to the Markets and Markets report, the global mobile health solutions market is projected to reach $213.6B by 2025 from $50.8B in 2020, at a high CAGR of 33.3% during the forecast period of 2020 to 2025. So, the market is growing at a high pace, and more and more solutions will be needed. 

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As any trendy field, healthcare app testing and development have their patterns that potential developers have to keep in mind. What are these trends? Let’s find out. 

Testing Trends in Healthcare App Testing

  • Emphasis on mobile and compatibility testing

We will dwell a bit more on compatibility with other devices later in the article. However, the point is that a considerable percentage of users access the healthcare solutions on their mobile devices, as it is the quickest and most convenient way. 
So, it is essential for your QAs to check that your solutions run smoothly on various devices,  browsers, and across different operating systems. 

  • High priority to security testing

This point goes almost without saying: solutions across all industries have to be secure. When it comes to healthcare, though, it gets of utmost importance. So, your QA professionals have to test the security of your application in the first place. 

  • Implementation of Agile testing methodology

The agile strategy is a good idea in both app development and testing. Using it, teams can escape the lengthy product delivery cycle and ensure quicker and more efficient delivery in the end.

  • Big Data management

Next-generation healthcare applications will contain data from various sources and platforms. So, QA specialists are to keep in mind the complete patient data management process across different technological platforms while testing healthcare apps. 

What Are The Stages of Healthcare App Testing?

Any application testing comprises the same stages: planning, requirements testing, functional and non-functional testing, regression testing, and reporting. So, healthcare app testing is no different in this case. 

At the stage of test planning, your QA team has to:

  • Define the scope of the project, basing on the specification of a product and the features required;
  • Estimate the test strategy, objectives, time, schedule, and resources required to deliver the project.

Each project has its peculiarities, so some predictions are not possible to make in some cases. However, such a detailed plan will help estimate the duration of the process, measure resources needed for a desirable outcome, and get predictable results when a healthcare software testing is finished. 

When all necessary planning is done, it is time for the next stage - requirements testing. This is the stage of the analysis of all requirements: specifications for completeness, correctness, consistency, and testability of an app. Also, they try to predict the risks that may arise during app usage. 

Here comes the third stage: functional and non-functional testing. During this stage, your QA team tests how efficiently an app works and looks for bugs that need to be fixed, and pass this information to the developers. The main aspects that need to be checked in terms of functional and non-functional testing are performance, usability, reliability, and security of your healthcare app. 

However, the fixes of the bugs found in the previous stage can hamper the work of your app. So, at this point, the regression testing stage kicks in. Regression testing is needed for the app to work without a hitch after all the bug fixes.

Last but not least, reporting. It is needed at each stage to document all activities and results at each testing iteration. 

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Now, let’s proceed to something more specific about the healthcare app testing, namely the areas that require a particular focus while healthcare application software testing. 

5 Areas to Focus on in a Healthcare App Testing

Healthcare applications differ significantly from other application types. Yes, healthcare mobile app development deals with sensitive data, requiring the utmost attention to security. So, here comes the first area of focus in terms of healthcare software application testing. 

  1. Compliance with HIPAA law

HIPAA compliance protects you from fines and secures your application against data breaches. So, here are the key aspects your QA team needs to check to make sure your app is compliant with HIPAA.

  • Role-based access: all the roles need to be included in the access scenario, and each user can get information envisaged just for their role;
  • Secure authentication: multi-factor authentication, short-term passwords, risk-based authentication, etc. are ways to ensure data security. So, your QA team has to check that these ways work correctly;
  • Protected health information (PHI) is encrypted: healthcare applications store sensitive data, so it is a must to use encryption as a way to secure it. Your QA professionals have to check the process of data encryption and ensure proper storage of the keys;
  • Automated Data backups: manual backups take more time, so it is a good idea to automate this process. Choose the set of manipulations in the app that require a backup afterward. Your quality assurance specialists need to test if data is successfully backed up when all of these conditions are met.
  1. UI and UX design

Usability and efficiency are the main criteria that influence how your end-users are satisfied with your healthcare application. So, your QAs have to develop a usability evaluation plan that will assess roles, usability tasks, usability metrics, as well as usability goals. Such a plan will give you the general approach to testing the user interface and user experience of your app.

The next important step is a hallway usability testing that shows how long it takes potential users to complete a task in the app and how effectively they can do it. To perform this stage, QA professionals usually choose random users and ask them to complete some actions within your healthcare application. This stage is crucial to understand what inconveniences while using an app your end-users may get. That, in turn, will give you the opportunity to fix them. 

Also, your healthcare app needs an expert review that involves QA professionals checking your app from a technical standpoint.

  1. Compatibility with medical testing

Top-notch healthcare apps are usually compatible with other healthcare software systems. For instance, they can be linked to electronic health record software, hospital management software, and medical practice management software. Interoperability between your application and these systems makes it more convenient for users.

However, integrating your app with third-party software is a challenging task: every piece of software can use its own data format, database type, as well as functionality logic. So, your QAs have to pay close attention to whether your application can smoothly communicate with all the medical software it’s integrated with.

  1. Compatibility with wearables

Healthcare apps work better and give you more insight when compatible with wearable devices such as smartwatches. However, compatibility with other devices may be challenging. The most occurring errors in this field are an application not seeing a wearable, an application seeing a wearable but not being able to connect to it, and a wearable connecting but being unable to transfer data.

To make sure your application does not have any of these issues, your QA team needs to test its compatibility with all the devices you’re planning to support.

  1. Overall app performance

Application performance is a crucial aspect that influences the satisfaction of your end-users. Your quality assurance professionals need to check all the variables that can affect the speed of your healthcare app and make sure the app is scalable.

All these areas of focus require the utmost attention and need to be addressed to satisfy the end-user of your healthcare app. However, there are some more aspects you need to consider while healthcare software application testing. Here are the best practices that will help you develop a top-notch healthcare mobile app.

Best Practices of Healthcare App Testing

Specialists in quality assurance should keep in mind the following aspects while testing this kind of software:

  • Check the accuracy of the dates in your application. These are dates and time of appointment to a doctor, recipes, etc., because even a small failure can have harmful consequences when it comes to healthcare apps; 
  • While writing the test scenarios for healthcare applications, remember additional parameters: types of plans, calculations, providers, options of canceling the appointment, etc. These scenarios differ depending on the functionality of your app, so your QA team should be able to plan these aspects properly in terms of your application’s specifications; 
  • Check if applications interact with each other as well as with the client’s electronic medical record.

There was more general advice, as each app has its peculiarities and specialties. But to give you more insights on the healthcare app testing, we will proceed to the challenges we have faced ourselves. 

Use Cases and Challenges in Healthcare App Testing

To demonstrate the real challenges that arise while healthcare software testing, we will view the test case by Apphawks.

We partnered with Roamler Care to test their web application, designed for people with various health and life issues. During this cooperation, two significant issues appeared and were resolved by our QA professionals. They are automation testing challenges and the challenge of Agile software development. 

The first one resulted from the project’s peculiarities: it was not prepared for our automation scripts. However, during the cooperation, we managed to persuade our client to build new features that are compatible with test automation. So, the project is still in progress, but we have already changed the testing approach towards a more efficient one.

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The next challenge is Agile software development, as the client leans towards “feature-related” releases instead of cutting them into sprints. So, our professionals needed to be as agile as possible to be ready to test new features when they are ready not to block the release. 

All in all, we do not see the challenge, we see the opportunity. That is the main reason why you should consider us as a potential provider of healthcare app testing services.

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Grzegorz Kłos
Grzegorz Kłos - Apphawks Co-founder
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