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The 5 main areas to focus on when testing your EMR

By Jaspar Casey

Jaspar Casey

Jaspar Casey - 11 May 2021

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. Read on to learn five key areas that you should be testing.

  • Functionality
  • Integration
  • Regression
  • User Interface (UI) and Usability
  • Performance

Functionality

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.

Integration

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.

Regression

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, 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.

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.

Performance

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. By creating a robust testing plan and taking full advantage of the advances in intelligent automation technology, health systems can ensure that EMRs are working as intended. However, the use cases for automation go way beyond the EMR.

To discover the many ways automation can help your team achieve more with less, check out our eBook.