Healthcare Technology Finishes Up 2011 with Big Developments

Share Article

Northway Solutions Group Says Software Quality Is Key To Success in 2012

Healthcare providers often lack a dedicated testing team, relying on uncertified clinical staff to accomplish significant portions of testing a new system.

Northway Solutions Group, an HP Elite Partner, continues to ride the wave of activity taking place on the healthcare IT front. It is as if suddenly regional hospitals, health care providers, and associated companies discovered IT and decided to embrace it. This is due, in part, to government regulation and compliance such as the ICD-10 medical coding standards with required electronic health records and tight compliance timelines. "Generally, people don’t do anything in IT just because it is the right thing to do; sometimes they need motivation. Nothing motivates like compliance — i.e. meaningful use," says Scott Moore, CEO of Northway Solutions Group.

An interesting development last month was the joint venture announced between Microsoft and GE Health. This partnership will focus on the collaboration of the companies' strengths around Amalga (Microsoft) and Qualibria (GE). Companies such as Allscripts, Cerner, and Epic are certainly taking notice of this recent development and wondering how to adjust now that companies with a global presence and brand recognition are deeply interested in what was traditionally their exclusive market space.

Amalga began as a point solution for Washington Hospital Center. Doctors Mark Smith and Craig Feied saw a need to pull together data from disparate systems and make sense of the information in a simple "single pane of glass" — one database. Built to end hospital staff’s and their own frustration over multiple information systems with no integration or consistency, this successful in-house solution replaced one that a third-party vendor was developing at a significant cost. Other healthcare providers quickly sought out this innovative solution, and Microsoft's Health Solutions group acquired it in 2006.

GE's Qualibria showed up on the scene in 2010 focused on giving clinicians more control over patient outcomes by bringing together real-time data from existing IT systems and comparing this data against shared baselines of evidence-based best practices. Assuming the FDA doesn't step in and complicate this transaction, this joint venture will result in a powerful company with the overall goal of providing "a healthcare performance management suite" integrated into a purpose built Windows platform for healthcare.

Testing this combination of Almaga and Qualibria will be interesting, and will likely require a tangible effort by any provider adopting the management suite. In this highly regulated industry with HIPPA controls, testing such an implementation raises many questions. What are the challenges of identifying business processes, subject matter experts, and aggregated test data from multiple sources to accomplish adequate testing? Are there security issues, and what level of security testing must be accomplished? Could this data ever end up in the cloud, even a private cloud, without risking patient data? Will this duo perform in each hospital’s unique environment? At what point (how many data sources) will its performance degrade? Who verifies the data is useful and meets the healthcare provider’s requirements? As a vendor, will Microsoft or GE certify these applications and prove they have been both functionally verified and performance validated, or does this responsibility fall to the client?

Testing most certainly will be a challenge for companies adopting this new technology. Healthcare providers often lack a dedicated testing team, relying on uncertified clinical staff to accomplish significant portions of testing a new system. These organizations also lack dedicated test environments in which to replicate their technology stack and test new systems with "real" data.

The HP Application Lifecycle Management suite of tools, including ALM (Quality Center), Functional Test, and Service Virtualization are uniquely geared to offer the provider a world-class end-to-end test management solution. Quality Center provides a solid platform for managing the entire testing lifecycle — from the capture of key testing milestones and cycles associated with the release to the capture and management of requirements, including the traceability of those requirements to the tests that are developed and executed. Quality Center enables the provider to effectively manage the defects discovered during testing and to generate dashboards that report progress made against the testing milestones. The HP Functional Test solutions (e.g. QuickTest Professional) enable the provider to accelerate the more mature parts of the testing by automating the regression suite. Leveraging Service Virtualization allows the provider to test earlier in the lifecycle as the data from upstream systems can be virtualized and provided to the system under test, eliminating the need to wait for data to flow through the entire system stack. These solutions, closely coupled with a strong and well-defined test methodology, are critical to successfully implementing a significant solution such as Amalga.

The HP LoadRunner solution is a great option for performance testing because of the wide range of protocols it supports. Each individual system the Amalga solution might access to acquire data could be a bottleneck; therefore, a litmus test between the system providing the data and Amalgam should be a key objective of the testing effort. Having a product that supports only a single technology or transport protocol limits the amount of testing that could occur across the various systems.

Scott Moore, CEO
Scott is the founder of Northway Solutions Group. He has nearly 20 years of IT experience with various platforms and technologies, he has performance tested some of the largest applications and infrastructures in the world. As a Certified Instructor and Certified Product Consultant in HP’s LoadRunner and Performance Center products, he continues to blaze a trail of high standards and innovation. His understanding and implementation of the performance Center of Excellence within large enterprises has been a milestone in his career and has positioned Northway to lead the way in the HLS market.

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Scott Moore