The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of taking care of your health. With co-morbidity issues accounting for a major portion of COVID-19 deaths, increasing self-immunity has become extremely important.
Millions have already been infected with the deadly virus across the globe. Such is the effect of the pandemic that even people with health issues are being requested to stay away from hospitals. The situation is indeed very scary! What do we do if we fall sick? Where do we go? How do we take care of ourselves and our families? What medicines should we take?
So many questions; but are answers available? Yes! And it is the pandemic which has been the catalyst to finding this answer. Telemedicine, a revolutionary step in healthcare, refers to the use of telecommunications by healthcare professionals to:
- Understand the symptoms
- Evaluate and diagnose them using healthcare apps
- Then ensure proper treatment is meted out
What is telemedicine?
Telemedicine was once a hard sell. Today it is a way of life; the new normal in healthcare!
Millions are affected across the globe. Is the healthcare system updated enough to deal with this sudden influx of patients? No. Is face to face consultation with a doctor a practical solution? Not unless it is an emergency.
This is where telemedicine apps step in. But telemedicine cannot be successful if it is not backed by advanced healthcare testing services that ensures the healthcare apps are functioning well and are completely accurate.
The sudden surge in demand for telemedicine has resulted in developers working overtime to ensure efficiency, accuracy and security of these apps and equally by quality analysis teams offering healthcare testing services for these apps.
But why are healthcare apps so important?
The healthcare apps form a communications channel between the healthcare professionals and the patients thereby reducing their need for:
- Face to face consultations and
- Visits to hospitals.
It is a welcome change for all since even the healthcare professionals are overburdened due to the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
Applicability of healthcare apps in telemedicine
A healthcare app needs to cater to all the aspects of telemedicine. For this, it is important to understand the applicability, usage and functionality of telemedicine. Some aspects of telemedicine which have become increasingly popular are:
- Follow-up visits: Patients do not need to come back to the doctor or the hospital for follow-up visits. It can be done remotely using the app even for Coronavirus carriers. This helps patients save time, money and energy and healthcare officials are also able to manage better.
- Chronic conditions management: Doctors monitor patient’s health remotely. They need to access the heart rate and blood pressure glucose levels etc. Today technological advances enable data transmission between devices easily. The need is a healthcare app which will be able to add value to this remote monitoring.
Telemedicine is thus expected to make life easier for people who have diabetes, cancer, heart diseases etc. They get the best of treatment and also follow social distancing to keep them safe from Coronavirus.
- Specialist consultations: For many patients, opting for specialist consultations means dealing with quite a few hassles like travelling, waiting, taking extra time out etc. But telecommunications technology usage enables these people to opt for specialist consultations right from the comfort of their homes.
Sharing of information between doctors, especially specialists, regarding the conditions of a particular patient can also be easily facilitated. Thus the need is to share diagnostic images, blood sample analysis reports generated by healthcare apps to enable proper assessment.
- Medication management: For the elderly and chronic disease afflicted, medicine management is a very important part of their daily routine. With many seniors forgetting to take their daily medicines on time, healthcare professionals and providers can ensure the same by using telemedicine apps to monitor the situation constantly.
- Updated hospital information: With COVID-19 striking many healthcare officials, there are instances wherein hospitals are opting for closure due to quarantine. In such instances, ambulances carrying critical patients might have to waste valuable time in going from one hospital to another. Healthcare apps can be kept updated so that people know beforehand if the hospital is closed or if the Emergency room is filled to capacity. This will enable them to change decisions and act on them promptly.
Need for healthcare app testing
The healthcare apps form the backbone of telemedicine and for this concept to be successfully implemented, they need proper testing to ensure high performance and fully-functional and user-friendly interface. The bar for quality assurance needs to be raised to remove the scope for any inaccuracy or data breach.
Various apps and web platforms like Practo, DocsApp, MFine etc. provide just the required tools to connect a doctor to a patient. Virtual consultations are enabled, medicines prescribed and patients initiated on a road to recovery. Digital payment platforms have further helped to make the system complete.
Today medical professionals are relying heavily on these apps. Thus they need to perform on all KPIs and healthcare app testing needs to validate the following features:
- Data security: The healthcare industry is a veritable goldmine for hackers and infiltration is very common. Statistics prove that 27% of all data breaches that happen originate in this sector. To overcome this vulnerability, healthcare testing services play a critical role.
Using data encryption, for data in motion and at rest, is one way to secure all data contained in the app. However, while it may be easy to verify data in motion, it is slightly difficult for data at rest. Since these healthcare apps are generally downloaded on smart devices, the encryption has to work optimally.
The apps maintain secure and safe payment options. The patient can choose to make a payment using an option of convenience. Healthcare app testing ensures that the payment gateways are safe and the app developers take extra care to ensure there is no data breach.
Healthcare testing services employ the latest technology to test all the web and hybrid applications for their security risks.
- Data privacy: Access to data in these apps needs to be strictly controlled. Without proper authorization, no data should be allowed to be accessed. Boundaries need to be set so that people who can receive specific data can be defined.
Healthcare testing services ensure that the data masking works well to prevent any unauthorized access to confidential patient data.
- Usability: This is a KPI on which every healthcare app needs to perform. Usability issues tend to translate into clinical issues making the patient suffer in the process. Proper usability testing helps ensure that patients or other end users can easily use these apps and without the need of much technical know-how.
- Digital health records: These apps make it possible for patients to say goodbye to paper prescriptions. With digital health records, you can access your health records from anyplace and at any time. Having your medical history made available with just a few clicks is a convenience which few patients can do away with. Data management is also a critical aspect verified during app testing.
- Conformance: Simply put, there are certain compliances that healthcare apps need to follow. Following are some of the compliances that need to be adhered to by the apps and the same are verified by healthcare testing services:
- Regulatory compliances: These regulations are country-specific and deal not only with the workings of the medical professionals but also with data security and other such important aspects.
- Functional completeness: The app developed for telemedicine needs to be functionally complete.
- Interoperability compliance: This deal with the syntactic and semantic interoperability agreement present between two healthcare entities that decide to join forces for a specific medical emergency or need.
- Performance: If the app does not perform well, the whole exercise of its creation goes to waste. This results in a colossal waste of time, money and energy. This increases the criticality of performance testing before the app’s release. The ability to immediately procure the demanded information, the ready availability of updated clinical data etc, are some areas where this app needs to perform well. Healthcare testing services ensures that there is proper performance testing. Scalability, archival strategy, local data size etc.; all such features are verified by expert testing engineers using automated and cloud-based testing services. Some types of healthcare testing services for these apps include:
- Functional testing to check if the functional capabilities are working fine,
- Medical imaging testing which is specialized test automation done to test the performance of certain medical imaging app like MESA, Mirth etc.,
- Platform testing to check the performance of the app on various popular platforms and also ensure cross-browser compatibility,
- Conformance testing to ensure all statutory compliances are met and
- Load testing and performance testing which set the load and performance standards for the app.
Testing for apps related to healthcare needs to be done on many different levels. These levels pertain to its usage at the doctor’s end, the patients’ end and even for the health insurance provider. It is common knowledge that of all the healthcare apps made, only a few reach the top. The reason is very simple – thorough and accurate testing. Only when an app is subjected to rigorous 360-degree testing can it attain superlative status and be counted among the top few.