Increasingly complex IT ecosystems, coupled with more frequent vendor upgrades and releases, are driving healthcare providers to turn to test automation. The primary benefits of this approach are fairly well known: increased scope and completeness of testing without prohibitive costs, improved reliability and accuracy of testing results, reduced risk to patient safety and revenue cycle integrity, enhanced tester and subject matter expert (SME) satisfaction, greater system adoption rates, etc. If you’ve got the right people, processes, and technology in place, you’re probably already using (or at least considering) an EHR test automation approach for these reasons.
But, you may not be aware of some of the lesser-known ways test automation can improve your organization’s technical capabilities and operational efficiency. Here are a few secondary, yet equally important, benefits we’ve discovered through our Test Automation as a Service (TAaaS) programs with hospitals and health systems.
1. EDUCATING AND TRAINING
A linchpin in SureTest’s TAaaS program is an accelerated process during which our testing specialists sit with your SMEs and analysts and use our testing platform to auto-capture all steps in major workflows. This process captures all EHR user interactions – mouse movements, clicks, data entry, etc. – and creates test automation scripts. One output of this process is a strong starting point for building automated test scripts that reflect reality, as opposed to what managers think or hope is going on.
This process also produces step-by-step video files of every major workflow that we found could translate into valuable education and training assets. They are edited and annotated as Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM)-compliant resources. These job aids can be available through your Learning Management System for employee onboarding and/or embedded in the EHR (or other system) workflow as on-the-job training (OJT) refreshers for staff and physicians to reference on an ongoing basis.
What’s more, SureTest’s TAaaS program takes full accountability for continuously updating all automated test scripts for EHR and system upgrades and releases. So, these education and training assets remain current and support end user adoption and satisfaction during these events.
2. EHR OPTIMIZATIONS
Following EHR implementation, conversion, or even major upgrades/releases, most hospitals and health systems loop back post-go-live to optimize the design and build, ensuring the system meets end user needs and delivers the intended benefits or results. An EHR optimization project helps improve several operational areas, including: clinical efficiency, physician satisfaction, and administrative burden. It also can save time and money spent on replacing the technology down the road.
A test automation program actually facilitates EHR design/build pre-go-live as well as optimization post-go-live. In the workflow auto-capture sessions described above, we take great care to capture the current reality not only in major workflows, but also in the various work-arounds used by staff within each workflow. Often, we find that the staff may use a handful of different work-arounds to accomplish a given workflow.
By revealing and documenting these work-arounds, the test automation approach provides valuable insights that can inform decisions and priorities in EHR optimization. The work-arounds should be considered and analyzed to identify problematic steps, process inconsistencies, and so on.
3. DATA QUALITY IMPROVEMENT
In a 2018 report, The Joint Commission found optimizing data quality, improving data governance, and enhancing clinical education are all essential steps for healthcare organizations to succeed with electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs).
A robust EHR test automation strategy supports these efforts by helping to identify potential root causes of data quality issues in much the same way as supporting EHR optimization. Our auto-capture of workflows and work-arounds can call direct attention to data fields and entry that end users overlook, skip, or enter incorrectly. Additionally, these efforts can highlight fields that have a flawed design/build – such as allowing text entry instead of a pull-down menu or radio button to create data essential for analytics. Certainly, many of these potential problems are caught or prevented during the design/build, but a surprising number inevitably get through, as few organizations include BI and analytics specialists in this part of the process. Test automation can help point out these issues, thereby promoting data quality improvement at the source.
PLAY THE LONG GAME WITH TEST AUTOMATION
A well-developed and executed EHR test automation strategy not only delivers significant and sustainable primary benefits in testing, but it also provides the above residual benefits that will impact your organization for years to come. If you pursue test automation now, you’ll be better positioned to train employees on the system, optimize it for your specific workflows, and help achieve data quality standards.
SureTest’s Test Automation as a Service program combines advanced test technology with certified resources who live and breathe testing, and understand your IT ecosystem. We work alongside you to develop a test automation approach that meets your needs and sets you up for long-term success.
This content was originally published on the Santa Rosa Consulting site.