The Vital Signs Report, a new HIMSS survey of QA and IT leaders at major US providers sports a striking topline result: the healthcare industry lags in deploying test automation practices to ensure the quality of the software that physicians use to provide patient care. The survey also reveals that do-it-yourself (DIY) testing approaches, often perceived as a cost-effective solution, yield the lowest satisfaction rates when it comes to meeting pre-release requirements compared to manual testing or test automation platforms. This revelation should serve as a wake-up call for healthcare organizations to reevaluate their testing strategies and prioritize quality assurance.

Problematic process, poor productivity

One of the core issues lies in the difficulty healthcare organizations face in sourcing and retaining in-house talent capable of building and maintaining effective test cases from scratch. Without substantial expertise in test automation frameworks, handling the intricate processes of test creation, execution, and test case management can be overwhelming. The entire testing process becomes more unreliable and yields inconsistent test results, and these problems lead to poor productivity. As a result, only 38% of respondents using DIY testing approaches reported satisfaction with their organization’s ability to enhance job satisfaction and productivity for their quality assurance teams. This dissatisfaction is five percentage points lower than those employing manual testing methods.

The problems extend beyond productivity and job satisfaction. The survey also highlights the struggle healthcare organizations face in releasing software with confidence. Only 46% expressed content with their ability to develop comprehensive testing coverage across all devices. Additionally, half of the respondents admitted dissatisfaction with the questionable state of test data, an issue that compromises the reliability of the entire testing process.

The high opportunity cost of DIY 

Healthcare software testing teams may think that DIY is a cheaper option, only to find out that invariably wind up needing additional functionalities that require new custom modules or coding. This can lead to delays in testing and deployment, increased costs, and potential risks to patient safety. The shortage of IT workers in the United States, projected to reach 1.2 million across industries by 2026, further exacerbates the situation. Experts with domain-specific knowledge in areas such as electronic medical record (EMR) systems and healthcare interoperability are particularly scarce. It is essential to allocate valuable time to tasks that software engineers are uniquely qualified for, ensuring long-term progress in the organization’s digital transformation journey.

Dig into the report … and consider automated testing

As the healthcare industry rapidly undergoes digital transformation, manual and DIY testing methods are proving inadequate. It is now the responsibility of healthcare IT leaders to embrace test automation and prioritize the quality and reliability of their systems.

It’s well worth reading the Vital Signs Report in full — it offers invaluable insights into the impact of DIY testing solutions on healthcare software quality and patient outcomes. It also explores the key challenges associated with emerging regulations and shares the best practices for automated EMR testing to safeguard high-quality patient experience in the digital age.

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