Testing to improve hospital business outcomes

Antony Edwards, CTO at Eggplant, discusses the importance of hospitals testing their systems, and how medical staff are leading the way with testing.

When it comes to hospitals and healthcare institutions, there are plenty of bugbears for patients. From waiting times to delays in receiving results, the healthcare system can be both fantastic and maddening at the same time.

But what if hospitals could use technology to reduce waiting times or even improve the time it takes for test results to be processed and delivered? With intelligent and automated testing of systems and applications, it’s already happening.

Supported by both technical and onsite teams, testing in medical institutions can improve the service for both staff and patients. There’s no doubt that hospitals have targets to hit and business outcomes to achieve; believe it or not, there can be a direct correlation between testing systems and processes to helping organisations improve and achieve these goals. From optimising the time it takes to fill outpatient records to freeing up people and systems to check-in patients as quickly as possible, as well as freeing up beds, software testing has a large part to play in improving hospital business outcomes.

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Testing workflows and updates

Hospitals are an intrinsic web of systems, processes and software—each as important as the next. How many times have you entered a hospital reception only to be told there’s a delay as “the systems are down”? These processes and systems are crucial for the hospital to continue running, so any workflows, updates, or new software must be tested regularly for bugs and issues. For some healthcare institutions, updates need to be released and tested as frequently as every other day.

So, who does the testing in hospitals and healthcare organisations? Whereas it’s typically the technical teams that test software in other industries, no one knows hospital processes and systems better than the nurses and medical staff themselves. Because of this, nurses and medical teams are acting as the frontline of testing how these systems are performing.

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For example, in one hospital that was not yet using intelligent testing and automation, the staff struggled with the amount of testing that was required – sometimes taking around two weeks to complete and needing input from 22 individuals. After changing to intelligent testing, the hospital could complete a test in a single day and only required one engineer. The medical teams provided the insight required to optimise systems and processes and the testing engineer delivering the changes.

By monitoring business outcomes and relating them to critical business factors, medical teams can consequently improve these processes and create faster forms, processes and systems for the entire hospital.

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Tailoring the testing

Medical staff will have the most knowledge about hospital usability performance and functionality and the problems that occur more than a technical or IT team. For example, if doctors need to fill in a specific form, but typically stop filling it in after five minutes, the testing team can change and optimise the form so it can be filled in within the five-minute period. In another case, a nurse might be completing a process but will hit and error and therefore has to stop; or gets stuck on a page of an online process. There are plenty of issues that medical teams can come up against, but these team members can test the processes and work with IT team to develop improvements.

>See also: Transforming healthcare with tech

There’s no doubt that testing is more effective when it’s done by the main experts who use the systems and processes every day. Testing in hospitals needs to be both thorough and accurate to realise its true potential to impact business performance. Taking feedback from the frontline to automate and optimise in the back office, has the potential to deliver huge efficiency improvements.

Written by Antony Edwards, CTO of Eggplant

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