Mobile Technologies Heralding Innovations in Healthcare Industry

The increasing adoption and use of mobile technologies is disrupting the healthcare industry through innovative ways, channels and tools for cost-effective healthcare delivery, even in the remotest of places. A quick search for “health” on Apple iTunes store presents over 43,000 apps, demonstrating a high demand for such applications.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mobile healthcare apps were downloaded an estimated 660 million times as of June 2013. By 2015, 500 million smartphone users worldwide are expected to regularly use some healthcare application; by 2018, industry experts estimate this figure to grow to 1.7 billion mobile users, who will use mobile healthcare applications on a fairly regularly basis by general consumers, patients, doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Mobile apps are radically changing the way doctors and patients interact and approach health care. Using a smartphone, a mobile application and an additional portable device, it is now possible for anyone to instantly get an instant electro-cardiogram (EKG) reading, giving patients a simple and easy means to keep track of their heart conditions.

Mobile healthcare applications are marked by unique requirements. These applications should require minimal learning effort, be easy to operate and are intuitive. Complex functionalities and technical implementations should be completely abstracted from the user interface to facilitate adoption. Usability requirements mandate easy access to critical information, while requiring absolutely minimal number of user inputs. Regulatory requirements mandate strict compliance with data protection and privacy laws. Security requirements mandate advanced encryption techniques to process sensitive information and resilience to sophisticated attacks and quick reaction to any actual or intended security breaches or infringements. The applications should also have a high error tolerance and include checks and balances to eliminate human error, which in some cases are synonymous with life or death situations.

It could be easily inferred that no single company has the resources or expertise to comply with the diverse and, often times, conflicting requirements on such mobile applications as presented above. Crowd testing offers a particularly easy and scalable way to include all stakeholders during product development of such broad-based applications.

During crowd testing, Usability experts with specialized healthcare domain know-how could be sought to propose various recommendations that facilitate adoption and usage. Healthcare practitioners and legal experts could easily contribute insights and consultation that help application developers meet the technical, functional and compliance requirements. Through crowd testing, it is also possible to target mobile healthcare applications to a specific subset of testers and gather their views and opinions on the fitness for purpose (utility) and use (warranty) considerations. Expert software testers conduct a battery of tests under the most unforgiving of situations and device configurations to ensure that the application works correctly, requires the absolutely minimal system requirements, resilient to user errors, etc. Business and Process integrators could critically evaluate the adequacy of functions and processes for mission critical applications that deal with emergency situations.

It is easy to envision how crowd testing could be a valuable asset to companies developing software and mobile applications for the healthcare industry. Click to download the full article.

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