How QA can strengthen healthcare technology

In healthcare, digital workplace solutions help us mitigate a number of mistakes driven by human factors. Yet, technology is not flawless and demands continuous testing as part of the delivery pipeline to ensure it is fit for purpose.

This is particularly important when it comes to the software used in hospitals and other medical facilities as any mistake can jeopardize lives. To reduce technical errors, companies employ quality assurance (QA) and software testing.

The following is a guide to how QA and testing improve medical applications and why companies are turning to QA outsourcing to meet their growing business needs.

Testing internal systems for healthcare facilities

The first in line is medical practice management (MPM) software, as its quality is vital for the smooth functioning of medical institutions. This is particularly true for those facilities with multiple departments or multifunctional units — due to the interconnectedness of their IT systems, a single fault can put the wider infrastructure at risk.

For example, this could mean incorrectly scheduled appointments, an increase in queue and wait times for patients, and inaccurate accounting.

To avoid such issues, providers need to employ QA professionals to improve error-free performance with every software release. Let us give an example: to make sure that MPM software runs well on both Windows and Linux platforms, test engineers would use compatibility testing.

Security testing is pivotal for electronic health record (EHR) systems as EHRs handle personal data usually transmitted from facility to facility. Here, information security assumes increased importance, and it’s QA engineers’ task to verify that no vulnerabilities remain in the software or that these are minimal.

Failover and recovery testing apply to electronic medical records (EMR) to ensure that EMRs are able to overcome system failures. Additionally, this type of checks can show how efficiently software handles data-intensive workflows and how quickly it would recover after a breakdown.

Software dealing with health and well-being demands a zero-error rate. QA and testing are exactly the two disciplines that help eliminate errors before they happen.

Testing of patient-facing systems

Patient portals came to be known as indispensable tools for patients to track their treatment and medication history and view all the EHR information gathered by the hospital in their accounts. Here, they can make medical appointments and send messages to their attending physician. Additionally, these portals allow for the reviewing and payment of medical bills.

To support the work of these apps, QA engineers can perform not only performance and functional testing but also usability testing, among others, making portals appealing and user-friendly and ensuring high user adoption and satisfaction rates.

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is another integral patient-facing system. Incorporating the IoT technology, is especially useful for patients with serious chronic conditions, for example, to measure their sugar and blood pressure levels. RPM is also found in out-patient and senior care.

Full-cycle testing is vital for RPM as it covers all the essential aspects that can affect the accuracy of results and thus undermine further treatment. By testing the technology beforehand and reducing the risk of errors like incorrect readings, delays in recording data, and other, patient outcomes could be improved.

In the highly competitive digital market, it’s also important to ensure product popularity with users. UI testing is what typically verifies that software complies with the logic and requirements for graphical interfaces, looks professional, and has a uniform style.

Quality assurance not to be overlooked

HealthTech is rapidly developing, generating more solutions that are set to improve medical service and health maintenance practices. With a growing amount of software products appearing on the market, the issue of their reliability is rising as well.

To ensure the high quality and popularity of medical systems and apps, businesses need to incorporate QA and software testing into the development process. QA engineers test products throughout their lifecycles and make them more adaptable to buyers’ needs. In the long run, this drives patients’ trust, better outcomes, and general profitability.

Due to dynamic requirements and staffing considerations, healthcare providers and product companies are increasingly choosing to outsource their testing routine. This allows them to access and employ a variety of testing methods including:

· Compatibility testing

· Security testing

· Failover and recovery testing

· Performance testing

· Functional testing

· Usability testing

· And more

This list is not exhaustive, and professional QA engineers are always guided by the software specifications in their projects, coming up with a tailored set to cover every functional, usability, security, or another aspect as required.

New York’s Century 21 Department Store Is No Stranger To Successfully Surviving A Crisis

There’s something distinctively different about Century 21 department stores. For almost six decades, the New York City retailer has consistently offered true designer merchandise at steep discounts. It’s beloved by its loyal customers but COVID-19 has complicated its successful business formula.

Century 21 is a retail theatre. Shoppers are willing to spend hours digging for bargains of high-end goods at up to 65% off. Vogue magazine has called Century 21 a place “where fashion’s hoi polloi and fashion’s intelligentsia search obsessively side by side.”

Unlike other retailers that have come and gone in the Big Apple, Century 21 remains a shopping destination. Trip Advisor recommends a visit to Century 21 as one of the “Top Things To Do in New York City.” Travel + Leisure has simply stated, “For the fashion-conscious, Century 21 is a shrine.”

Century 21 operates 11 locations throughout the New York City metropolitan area and its large Downtown Manhattan flagship store is almost as much a tourist attraction as it is a department store. But COVID-19 has dramatically curbed shopping excursions and tourist visits to the region.

Heather Feinmel, director of marketing and public relations for Century 21, acknowledges the challenges of doing business in New York City during COVID-19. “Our flagship store in Downtown Manhattan has been very challenged due to the decline in tourist traffic as well as local office workers in the area.”

In mid-March, all Century 21 stores were closed due to quarantine restrictions. However, over the past month, all locations have reopened as loyal customers cautiously return to in-store shopping. “We are optimistic about business, even though traffic remains tough, but we are extremely humbled by how many loyal customers did return to shop when we opened our doors, and continue to visit us now,” Feinmel says.

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, Century 21 has recently made some difficult decisions. In early June, the company permanently laid off over 1,000 employees, from corporate-level positions to the sales force.

“There’s no question that they’ve been successful up until COVID-19,” says retail consultant Jan Rogers Kniffen. “What we don’t know is can they get through the ditch? It’s not like they did anything wrong. I’m sure they’re just conserving cash.”

Kniffen feels that the current crisis might be especially hard felt at Century 21. As a company heavily invested in a ravaged COVID-19 area, “there’s just no business going on in New York City right now.” Century 21 also operates a Center City Philadelphia store, located within the former Strawbridge & Clothier flagship, and a store at South Florida’s massive Sawgrass Mills outlet centre. Both locations are in hard-hit areas and are extremely reliant on tourist dollars.

But Century 21 is no stranger to tragedy. The company’s flagship is located just opposite the World Trade Center on Cortlandt Street, located within the former East River Savings Bank building. On September 11, 2001, over 500 employees and customers were inside the store when the first plane hit the North Tower. All were quickly and safely evacuated and accounted for.

Though it was structurally sound, Century 21 spent $10 million to quickly repair the heavily damaged structure. The gutting and rebuilding the department store’s interior took less than six months. As the World Trade Center ruins remained visible just opposite of its main entrance, Century 21 reopened on February 28, 2002.

It took several years to rebuild the volume at its Downtown Manhattan flagship. Devoid of workers, buildings throughout the Financial District and many streets remained off-limits to pedestrians. Feinmel says, “The last time Century 21 Stores closed its doors was during 9/11 when our downtown store was severely damaged, and just like then, we know we will get through this period and come out even stronger.”

In 1961, Sonny and Al Gindi opened the first Century 21 department store in a modest 5,000-square-foot storefront and members of Gindi families remain in control of the business today. The name referenced the upcoming 1962 “Century 21 Exposition” to be held in downtown Seattle. The fair was intended to predict how humans would likely live, work and eat in the year 2000.

Century 21’s reputation as a reliable source for discounted one-of-a-kind fashionable merchandise might help it secure its future during this critical time. “Century 21 is the ‘Real Deal,’” says Kniffen. “It never changed its character. It’s been selling designer clothing at 65% off since 1961.”

Feinmel lists some changes and innovations that Century 21 is enacting to ensure customer safety in the new COVID-19 world. “The impact of COVID-19 has fast-tracked the need for a reimagined guest experience in-store. We are testing new programs, such as an in-store live stream. In addition, we will be hosting private shopping events, to help consumers feel at ease.”

Despite the challenges, Century 21 is cautiously optimistic about its future. “We are committed to doing the best we can during this challenging time to keep our business alive,” Feinmel says.

Kniffen may provide the best reason why Century 21 has a strong chance for future success. “New Yorkers know that shopping at Century 21 is not only cheap, but it’s also still cool.”

Requirement for Influenza vaccine soars as States plan for next Covid-19 Tide

Fears of another tide of coronavirus have ignited a worldwide scramble for flu shots from nations that expect to vaccinate fantastic swathes of the populace to decrease strain on their wellness services.

Health officials in the united kingdom are thinking about whether to provide flu shots to everybody as part of the preparation for a resurgence of coronavirus from the fall, but with different nations hitting the exact same plan, demand for influenza vaccines has jumped.

Mass immunization would like to slash the number of people hospitalized with the flu this winter, providing the NHS a better prospect of dealing with any spike in Covid-19 patients that follows the relieving of lockdown restrictions. The influenza vaccine doesn’t protect against coronavirus disease.

1 flu vaccine maker, Sanofi, stated it was approached by the united kingdom and other nations about fostering their orders of influenza shots for winter 2020-21 but cautioned it would fight to ramp up manufacturing at the time.

“We’ve been requested by nations around the northern hemisphere, such as the UK, concerning the chance to present extra flu vaccine,” a Sanofi spokesperson said. “We’re seeing what more could be done in order to satisfy extra demand, but it’s going to be challenging.”

“Vaccine manufacturing has rather long lead times and our programs because of this particular flu season were set up before COVID. Sanofi will create more influenza vaccines this season than ever before, a 20% growth during the previous two decades, but global demand will increase supply,” the spokesperson added. “These extra requests which have come in circumstance of COVID are outside our planned and anticipated source.”

In the united kingdom, the vaccine is currently offered to people most in danger, such as the over-65s, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems. Flu shots can also be created for primary schoolchildren and health and healthcare workers.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Prof Peter Openshaw in Imperial College, London, that sits on the administration’s New and Emerging Enforcement Enforcement Hazards Advisory Group (Nervtag), that feeds into Sage, stated: “There’s a concern that incorporating together a terrible flu season using a coronavirus resurgence could be a massive burden on the NHS and we have a method of decreasing the effect of influenza with hepatitis, it’s something to be thought about.”

“There could be an extra cost but it may potentially decrease flu flow by taking people from the transmission routine that aren’t likely to suffer horribly themselves, but that may pass it to other folks,” he added. To earn influenza jabs open to the total people, the UK would require 30-40percent more shots than normal, ” he explained.

Alastair Buxton, manager of NHS Services in the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, said several states, for example, Australia, had witnessed the greater need for flu vaccines from folks who wished to shield themselves, including this flu season was likely to attract”a very new set of challenges”.

“Healthcare professionals may confront the challenge of having to figure out strategies to vaccinate people firmly in a mutually distanced surroundings,” he explained. “If there’s a considerable increase in the need for cancer from qualified patients, we hope there’ll be a strain on vaccine provides, and we’re also worried about whether there’ll be sufficient supplies of this PPE that caregivers may need if administering vaccines.

The complexity of the international supply chain for influenza vaccines means producers cannot improve supply at short notice and increased need throughout the planet increases pressure on accessibility, but community pharmacists will utilize GP colleagues to do everything they can to receive their regional communities vaccinated,” he added.

We aim for the influenza season well beforehand and additional details will be released shortly.”

6 reasons why bats are Not enemies: They make tequila, and Much More you Might not Understand

 

Bats have shouldered much of the blame in the quest for the roots of the novel coronavirus.

In March, researchers published a study that discovered a 96.2% connection between the coronavirus which causes COVID-19 along with a virus discovered in a horseshoe bat out of China’s Yunnan province.

“Ninety-six percentage is not the same virus; it is a bit like the difference between us and chimpanzees,” Peter Daszakthe president of this non-profit EcoHealth Alliance, explains in CNN Special Report”Bats: The Mystery Behind Covid-19.”

“it is a different species of virus. However, what it tells us is where the virus probably came out. It usually means that SARS-CoV-2 likely came from bats and probably in Southern China.”

Yunnan state is about a thousand miles from Hubei province, which is where the town of Wuhan watched the early virus outbreaks. A mix of potentially infected wild creatures in a moist market could have caused the virus to jump from animals to people. However, zoologists, ecologists, and disease specialists have said that it has human behaviors — such as destroying natural habitats — which may be to blame for the transport of this disease.

In general, bats have captured a bad rap — not only with their link to COVID-19 along with other virus outbreaks but in cultural symbolism as well.

However, as specialists tell Anderson Cooper from the CNN special report, these flying mammals possess a vital role in our ecosystem, and there are many unique facts that the average person likely does not understand about them — including how they help create tequila.

THEY SAVE US FROM MOSQUITOES
Bats play a large part in the ecosystem by controlling insect populations, ” said Nancy Simmons, American Museum of Natural History mammalogy curator and coauthor of”Bats: A World of Science and Mystery.”

In an hour, a normal-sized bat can consume up to 500 to 1,000 mosquitoes, which may carry diseases such as the Zika virus, dengue fever, or malaria.

Their insect-eating habits also save big money for agriculture. For the U.S. economy, bats are worth more than a billion dollars every year”in terms of how many pesticides we don’t have to use and just how much more food we buy,” said Dan Riskin, a Canadian evolutionary biologist, and television host.

The Mexican free-tailed bat of Texas eats a great number of moths, protecting the corn plants of the area.

THEY’RE INTRINSICALLY ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS
Pest control is not bats’ only contribution to our ecosystem. The garbage droppings of fruit-eating bats — particularly those in rainforests — disperse seeds, helping to regenerate trees and plants previously damaged or cut down.

Their droppings are also high of nitrogen, which is an essential ingredient for plants as it’s a main component of chlorophyll, the chemical where plants use energy from sunlight to produce sugars from carbon and carbon dioxide. This process, called photosynthesis, creates oxygen. Nitrogen is also a vital component of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

And historically, bat caves are chosen for fertilizer and after that explosives during the Civil War. The high nitrate content of their stool provided a key ingredient for the production of gunpowder amid a shortage of supplies.

Some bat species function as the sole pollinators of particular types of bananas, mangoes, and cacti. The muzzles of long-nosed bats are designed to fit perfectly inside some cactus blossoms, which fittingly only open at night.

This species, whose habitat ranges from the American Southwest to southern and central Mexico, pollinates the blue agave plant — the key ingredient in tequila. They behave as surrogates carrying the pollen from one agave plant to another.

“Who doesn’t love tequila, right?” Riskin said. “I mean, simply there, that should be reason enough for folks to love bats.”

THEY’RE FIGHTING A DISEASE HUMANS GAVE THEM
While we’re fighting a virus that potentially came from bats, they’re fighting a fungus that may have moved to them from us.

Back in North America over the last 15 years, inhabitants of roughly a dozen bat species are affected by a disease called”white-nose syndrome.” In some cases, populations have dropped by over 90%.

“It’s a terrible threat to bats. And paradoxically, it’s a disorder that we caused bats. This disorder is equal to the fungus that naturally occurs in Europe. And thus the thought is the fact that it was only brought over by people and has been accidentally introduced into bat caves.”

LACKING DISEASE-RELATED GENES
When a virus infects our cells, our immune response will recruit immune cells to the site to attempt and clear the infection, ” said Cara Brook, a postdoctoral Miller Fellow in the department of integrative biology at the University of California-Berkeley, at the CNN special.

The reaction that indicates uninfected cells to turn on their defense system typically leads to inflammation — which, in humans, is frequently in the kind of fever or swelling which helps fight disease.

But bats’ immune systems do not respond the same way — they’re able to withstand powerful immune reactions and have an anti-inflammatory response too.

Some bat species” are now missing the genes which people and other animals have that activate the inflammatory process” in reaction to pathogens and viruses that may be deadly for humans and other animals, said Jonathan Epstein, a veterinarian, disease ecologist and the vice president of science and outreach at EcoHealth Alliance.

Assessing bat immunology could help provide insights about potential remedies for the present pandemic, in addition to any future pandemic of a bat-related virus.

BATS HELP PAVE THE ROAD TO MEDICAL DISCOVERIES
Bats already contribute to research that could one day be helpful to humans.

Within a 2019 study published in the journal Biology Letters, researchers examined evolutionary trees reconstructed in the DNA of the vast majority of bat species. They found that four species — horseshoe, long-eared, common and mouse-eared — all live at least four times more compared to other similarly-sized mammals.

And when adjusted for size, athletes transcend the average human lifespan. The study added to previous research that indicated looking farther into bats as models for healthier aging, to find traits and mechanisms associated with a long life span.

Vampire bats in particular — a rare species that reside in Central and South America and feeds on the blood of birds, pigs, and cows — have blood-thinning brokers within their saliva, which helps them draw free-flowing blood from their prey. Researchers have looked into if there are insights regarding their blood which would be helpful for treating humans.

A number of studies also have indicated that vampire bats’ blood might also lend to treatments for conditions including stroke, hypertension, heart failure, and kidney ailments.

And now, studying how bats’ immunology lets them withstand numerous pathogens and viruses can be applied to developing treatment and prevention for humans.