Certainty’s good in IT. In health, it’s critical
Of course every organisation wants their information system delivering the right outcome. However in healthcare it takes on a whole new meaning - it can literally be a matter of life and death.
IT in health is different. Through specific engagements across sector across private providers, district health boards and shared service agencies, Qual IT has seen four signs that tend to be associated with a ‘healthy’ approach to IT testing in this sector.
The four signs of a healthy testing regime
SIGN 1: DATA INTEGRITY IS PARAMOUNT
A healthy testing approach is one where primary attention is paid to quality of data ensuring it remains valid when shared across systems, and of course, its security.
Privacy considerations make patient data incredibly sensitive and therefore testing must be handled carefully. Testing protocols that allow for patient data to be masked are important to avoid sensitive information being inappropriately exposed.
An understanding of data standards peculiar to the health sector is also important, such as HL7 and HISO.
SIGN 2: CLINICIANS EFFICIENTLY ENGAGED IN UAT
A difficult tension exists in the testing of health IT systems, especially clinical information tools. User acceptance testing (UAT) must be done by people with the right clinical knowledge, but who are also extremely busy.
A healthy testing regime makes this approach as efficient as possible, bridging the gap between clinical experts and the functional testing team, and ensuring a well tested system is delivered to the clinician in the first instance.
SIGN 3: RE-USE OF FUNCTIONAL TEST RESOURCES
A healthy testing regime requires testers with a strong understanding of the systems involved, an ability to leverage that knowledge across other health applications, and the communications and centralisation that permits re-use of tools and processes.
Having knowledge of the broad range of health-specific systems (e.g. continuum-of-care type applications, clinical information systems, radiology information systems, laboratory systems and core patient administration systems), within your testing team is a major contributor to efficient processes, and testing that gets results. There is also a considerable opportunity in the New Zealand healthcare environment to improve the sharing of testing knowledge, scripts and processes.
SIGN 4: INFRASTRUCTURE TESTING IS GIVEN DUE EMPHASIS
In health more than any other sector, IT systems need to be qualified as fit for purpose and operate as intended in a specific IT environment. There is little value in investing in the best clinical information systems if performance or integration issues reduce their effectiveness.
A typical health environment is a complex mix of multiple integrated software technologies, hosted and being accessed by multiple hardware devices and involving multiple vendors. Applying specialist infrastructure testing skills in health is important, as it applies a broader view of how these technologies fit together identifying risks in new implementations or software upgrades.
We’re ready to help NZ health
Within the healthcare sector, Qual IT have worked with organisations such as; the Ministry of Health, Health Alliance, Waikato DHB and Central TAS. We are New Zealand’s largest test consultancy and provide independent testing services to some of the country’s largest and most successful organisations including; Transpower, NZ Police, IAG and Air New Zealand via our offices in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Christchurch.
Read how we helped the Canterbury District Health Board save five months of clinicians time through four days of test automation.