For over a half a century policymakers in countries worldwide have been trying to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges: How can we use innovations in medicine to make everyone healthier? How can we provide these benefits to everyone in the most affordable manner?
Where governments and industry have been working hard at options, technology may have provided a new solution: mobile applications.
Mobile Health Applications for the Most Prevalent Conditions
The best way to prevent a health issue is to do exactly that: prevent it from happening in the first place. According to Dr. Mladen Golubic, poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, overuse of alcohol, poor diet, lack of physical activity and inadequate relief of chronic stress are key contributors in the development and progression of preventable diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer.
Trillions of dollars are spent by families every year to treat these diseases.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could harness mobile technology to attack these horrors before they appear? Wouldn’t it be better if we could save money in the process?
Utilizing wearables and the mobile apps they communicate with, health insurance companies are offering reduced premiums for anyone who agrees to use a wearable to monitor and increase their physical activity. In some plans, people who walk 10,000 steps per day can enjoy over $1,000 in annual discounts to their premiums. Walking 10,000 steps a day is a great way to reduce fat, get in shape, and avoid countless visits to the doctor’s office, each of which cost money.
At Experitest, we are proud to be a part of this revolution in health.
Mobile Testing for the Top Mobile Health Applications
One of our clients is a major health provider. They have developed a smart heart monitor.
The sensor checks your heart rate and other vitals throughout your cardiovascular system. If you are showing symptoms of a seizure or heart attack, it will automatically notify your doctor and call 911. The app will provide your GPS location to ambulance personnel so they can arrive as quickly as possible to provide emergency treatment.
The challenges for this app are functional, performance, and in some cases load. The central server of the app must receive and transmit data in real time. The company must continually make sure that every function is working perfectly at every moment. As new innovations lead to better versions of the app, developers and testers must work together to get that new version out quickly, but without any errors related to a computer assuming responsibility for critical functions of the human body.
Testing Mobile Health Applications for Diabetes
Another company we are happy to serve develops mobile devices to help people with diabetes.
They designed a mobile glucose meter and insulin pump. The machine is connected to the body in order to measure glucose levels in the blood and to dispense insulin as needed.
It monitors and relays the data to an application running on a mobile device. It stays underneath clothing, making insulin treatment discrete and simple. It can communicate constant glucose levels to a mobile device up to 10 feet away.
If glucose levels rise, the mobile application will alert the user that they need to take a dose. For some patients, a doctor, caretaker, or even family members can also be notified so they can contact the user to make sure they took the recommended dose. Once the user accepts the applications recommendation, at the touch of a button the machine will automatically dispense the exact amount of insulin to bring down glucose levels being recorded at that moment to a safe level.
The user also has the option to automate the process, allowing the computer to dispense insulin without their approval whenever the readings indicate medicine is needed.
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QA Makes it Work!
How Mobile Testing Crushes the Challenges of Mobile Health Applications
Once mobile applications are given responsibility for keeping a person alive, it must be tested thoroughly. Mobile application testers play a vital role in making sure the benefits of mobile health can be made safe for all to enjoy.
Automated testing and manual testing are the first steps in testing mobile health apps.
The data has to be right and the functions all have to be working perfectly. Since many of the sensors and devices being used are wearables and not standard smartphones, you need a mobile testing tool that tests over all devices, operating systems, and versions.
You are testing between a transmitter inside or adjacent to the body, and a phone, tablet, or customized diagnostic tool relaying information back and forth. The functions must confirm that the measurements are correct, the course of action the measurements require is exactly what the app is recommending, that the proper action is being executed, and most of all – that this action is being executed correctly.
Recent estimates say 210,000 Americans die each year from the wrong medicine, or dosage being administered in hospitals. Human error can result in tragedy. Mobile health applications can dramatically reduce this number as long as they are tested thoroughly.
Mobile Test Automation to the Rescue
Automation testing for mobile applications is important in two ways. The first is for regression testing. The operating systems and devices these applications are running on are all being improved yearly and monthly. New versions are released even weekly or daily, constantly giving health applications more functionality to capitalize on.
As health apps are continuously improved to incorporate new features of the platforms they work on, each new version of these apps must go through a comprehensive regimen of regression testing, or testing functions that weren’t supposed to be impacted by the upgrade to verify that the new code didn’t impact them at all. Test automation takes this process and reduces it to a manageable timetable.
The other need for the right automated mobile testing tool is that integrates fully into a continuous integration platform. The right tool enables you to send a new version for testing even as you sleep. The continuous integration (CI) server can then determine if an app goes to the developer for further work, or to the app store for immediate release.
If a user, G-d forbid, is showing symptoms of something that needs immediate attention like cardiac arrest or a rapidly accelerating blood pressure, the application cannot freeze or buffer. If it hiccups just once, the condition of the user could rapidly deteriorate while the function tries to correct itself.
Performance testing makes sure that the actions needed to respond to a medical emergency are immediate. There are several phases to this.
Network Virtualization Testing is testing a mobile application’s speed over different local connectivity points throughout the world. A mobile application can be working flawlessly in a lab, but have problems in Tokyo. It can be working fine in Tokyo, and even better in Texas, but can have flaws in New York and Los Angeles – two cities with some of the worst connection speeds in all of North America.
An app must be tested that it will perform smoothly under any type of local conditions. While a user may be in one city, the people also alerted to his health status may be in another. If a user needs to take his medicine, his children may also be notified by a device and they can live 1,000 miles away. A caretaker can be in another town at the moment, and the doctor may be vacationing in another country.
Load Testing is also important. Just because only one user can be using a sensor or device, doesn’t mean he or she is the only one making use of the application server which is communicating with the health app the device is transmitting and receiving instructions from.
Every minute the application is taking data from the sensor, processing it, sending it to the server, asking questions, and receiving answers and new data to update the status of the user and what needs to be done right now. The more users, the busier the server. Unless the server has the capacity to handle heavy loads of traffic, the data will not be updated properly.
Unexpected events like heavy smog, a cold day, allergy season can result in a larger number of people using these apps than normal. It can also result in a larger number of people calling in the app server because they have a specific medical need. It can be as simple as an app saying “Smog rose 30% in the last 12 hours, take your inhaler!” or “The weather dropped below freezing 10 minutes ago, drink some orange juice!”
When these situations happen, the app must be ready to handle the extra traffic.
Cloud Testing: Reaping the Benefits of Mobile Health Applications
It hasn’t even been a decade that smartphones were the “original” mobile platforms for applications. Not long after tablets appeared, we now have connected cars, homes, household items hosting applications. Even medical tools, surgical devices, and related diagnostic equipment are home to mobile applications.
This means that test coverage of devices, mobile operating systems, and versions is expanding at a rapidly accelerating pace. Not only do you need a mobile testing tool that can test on all of it without requiring you to buy any additional testing tools, you need a testing tool that enables you to test from the cloud by setting up a mobile device lab.
A mobile lab, consisting of tens, or hundreds of devices, all with their own operating system and version gives every tester in your business the ability to access all of these devices by remote. Each mobile tester doesn’t need a hospital bed in his testing lab – he can access the specific devices in one location. While every device in the lab will be made available to every tester in the company, a savvy QA manager can assign projects to testers in different offices throughout varying time zones to set up a 24 hour non-stop mobile testing operation. He can also determine which devices are not in use throughout the day and execute automated tests on those devices.
The Bottom Line: Maximizing the Advantages of Mobile Health Applications
When dealing with the vital parts of the body that must be working all the time for us to live, any task handed over to a mobile app must be managed with perfection or else the consequences could be disastrous.
The benefits of mobile health applications can certainly enhance your life. An app can pick up symptoms for serious crises before we begin to feel them ourselves. Small issues like an accelerated heart rate or high blood pressure can be brought to the attention of the user, prompting them to take preventative action before it becomes serious.
Health insurance companies will continue to offer benefits to customers who agree to use health wearables and meet the daily performance goals these wearables report. Everybody benefits when they save thousands of dollars on their health insurance bills by walking 10,000 steps a day. We all save even more as these activities make healthier, and reduce costly trips to the doctor and pharmacist.
Mobile application testers underwrite all of this. It is their task to make sure everything is working so we can enjoy the full benefits of the mobile revolution in the health of the 21st century.
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