What You Need to Know About Reliability, Efficiency, and Security of EMR Testing
by Jaspar Casey, on 5/11/21
Patient care has become increasingly reliant on technology. But as anyone who works in healthcare understands, making sure this technology layer helps rather than hinders is a constant challenge.
Electronic medical records, or EMR, are software systems that help track the myriad of data attached to each patient. Also referred to as EHR, these systems are highly customizable, which means various critical workflows and applications, both internal and external, need to be connected to function correctly. Because EMR systems are so central to the modern healthcare world, it’s critical that they are both robust enough to handle vital health data, as well as being flexible enough to accommodate the wide range of use cases and customizations required by medical personnel.
With little room for error, it’s clear that testing EMR systems is of the utmost importance. This is just a high-level view of five key areas of your EMR systems that you should be testing:
One of EMR's key objectives is to pull together a raft of workflows from various systems and make sure they are accessible and function correctly for all users. From patient registrations and laboratory records to e-prescriptions and insurance claims, healthcare professionals need EMR systems to function as expected.
Issues that affect the functionality of EMR systems hinder medical professionals’ ability to make informed decisions when caring for patients. Therefore, it’s important that any EMR testing plan focuses on the core functionality, such as the ability to create and edit records, load patient files, and view recent changes. If these types of actions can’t be consistently performed, medical staff will not be able to access the right information at the right time.
With many inputs and outputs, ensuring the reliability and seamless operation of any EMR system requires integration testing. Critical systems, such as picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), various databases, APIs, and other important processes are plugged into EMRs. Ensuring these systems are connected and accessible is vital to maintaining a high level of patient care, considering the importance of the data flowing back and forth.
Integration testing will uncover any data flow obstructions that block the connection to and from the EMR. Removing any blockers ensures a single view of any patient's medical history and health requirements can be viewed at the time of treatment.
62% of physicians said making their EMR systems more interoperable was key to delivering better care — 2018 Deloitte Survey of US Physicians
As is the nature of interconnected systems, it is challenging for manual testing to cover all necessary components. Increasing test coverage with AI-powered test automation uncovers more bugs faster than any team of manual testers could, ensuring your EMR system functions as expected.
Due to the number of critical integrations with your EMR, regression testing helps you ensure that the core software still works after it has changed or interfaced with other applications and platforms.
The same goes for upgrades or maintenance updates, which are provided regularly by EMR vendors to fix any glitches, or problems with previous versions, or add new features. Regression testing needs to take place to ensure your EMR system's operational performance hasn't been disturbed.
#4 UI and Usability
Testing your EMR's UI from the users’ perspective makes it simpler to determine whether the system delivers an experience that is straightforward and works as expected.
But when adding custom functionality and business-critical workflows into your EMR, the number of relevant user journeys will increase, which further complicates testing. Testing the UI ensures that your staff can effectively use the system to do their job. If they can't, it will be your patients that ultimately suffer.
The patient experience can deteriorate further if the patient-facing side of the EMR is ignored. Portals such as MyChart allow patients to interact with healthcare providers and manage their care online. Appointments, medications, test results, and bills can be accessed, giving patients more control and visibility over their own health. Being accessible across mobile devices, tablets, and desktop introduces complicates testing. But testing from the user's perspective is non-invasive, so you never have to access the underlying code. In other words, whatever can be seen on-screen can be tested.
Non-invasive testing also helps with compliance issues that prohibit the source code from being interrogated. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) forbids any software testing solution from being installed onto servers. This poses problems for some test automation providers, so non-invasive testing is the best solution to remain HIPAA-compliant.
Closely aligned with UI testing, the performance of your EMR needs to be monitored so it can still operate under the strain of heavy usage. Many healthcare professionals across various departments will use your EMR. An array of processes and applications will also be plugged into it, and these can be resource-intensive for your servers.
Performance testing will ensure your EMR still performs under peak load and with no downtime, so all users remain productive when accessing the system, even when there is a spike in activity.
Continuously monitoring your EMR's performance requires a modern testing approach. Automation increases test coverage across a wide range of workflows, applications, and user interfaces, so any bottlenecks or problems can be uncovered before harming the patient's care and experience.
Testing beyond the EMR
Given the central role EMRs play in modern healthcare, the importance that they serve patients and medical professionals alike cannot be overstated. To broaden your test coverage of EMR and continuously improve patient experience, these three important elements of Eggplant bring significant advantages:
1. Access enterprise scale testing capabilities
- Author, schedule, execute and analyze test results via a single modern, intuitive UI.
- Easily scale execution and set limits for time and coverage levels.
- Customize rich graphical reports to provide actionable testing insight that moves beyond static pass/fail notices to identify root causes of failures.
2. Test any healthcare system
- Eggplant’s platform-agnostic approach can test any technology end to end including EMR/EHR systems, such as Cerner, Epic and Legacy Healthcare systems.
- Automate natively over Citrix without installing any invasive software on your Citrix server.
- Eggplant’s unique, patented, Fusion Engine can intelligently understand and control the user interfaces as a human would, but also via databases, APIs, and objects.
- Accurately find and read text on any screen via optical character recognition (OCR).
- Eggplant provides the ability to switch seamlessly between applications to test workflows end to end.
3. Upskill analysts to automation engineers
- Support automation initiatives via a low-code/no-code platform that can be utilized by Healthcare analysts.
- Automatically run performance load tests on your Healthcare system with no technical knowledge and no coding.
- Modernize the testing approach without adding additional budget or resources