Bug-Free Healthcare Software Solutions: 6 Tips for Your Team

  • May 30, 2024

Healthcare software solutions must be flawless (or as flawless as possible). Otherwise, a tiny glitch could risk critical medical data, delay care, or mess with a patient’s insurance payment. The stakes couldn’t be higher — that’s why we’re here to share our approach of ensuring your team develops consistent, high-quality, reliable software.

While it’s impossible to build software that’s 100% error-free, you can minimize them to a rare occurrence. Read on to discover six software tips that let you do that, straight from Vitamin’s experts and our experience of doing over 60 successful launches in the last eight years.

1. Employ Coding Standards

Coding standards are rules and guidelines for clean, readable, and efficient code. They provide a uniform format for software engineers from diverse backgrounds.

These standards are commonplace in some industries, automotive being a notable example. However, healthcare lags behind tech-savvy fields. The 2019 survey on the state of medical device development found that 70% of companies don’t (or don’t know if they) use coding standards. It doesn’t seem the situation is much better in 2024, either.

To make matters worse, there are no universal healthcare coding standards from international organizations or regulators. How can you devise them without guidance? Here are some ideas your company might adopt:

  • Consistent code layout. Several developers may work on a product over the software release life cycle. With a project-wide or company-wide standard, there won’t be confusion when responsibilities transition to different hands.
  • Naming conventions. Common naming enhances code readability and comprehension. It lets developers know exactly what each variable, function, and class is for.
  • Low code complexity. Limit metrics like lines of code or nesting levels. This practice keeps that code manageable and understandable, even to people seeing it for the first time.

Create a master doc with guidelines and disseminate it company-wide. It’ll do wonders for your productivity and support every next software tip we’re about to share.

2. Test, Test, and Test Again

Testing is the linchpin of bug-free software development, especially in healthcare. It lets you take the product out for a test drive before it starts operating in real-world scenarios with high stakes.

Check the typical use cases to ensure they’re bug-free. Some must-resolve bugs that we often see in healthcare apps include:

  • Crashing when a user taps a button deters them from seeking medical assistance.
  • Missing progress indicators leave users uncertain if the app is working and reduce trust.
  • Double booking or orders due to impatient behaviors like repeated tapping or submitting.
  • Information gets cut off when the orientation changes, making the UI unusable in critical situations.

There might be dozens more, depending on what you’re building. But start with the expected functionalities and then move outward, simulating as many user behaviors as you can predict.

Our QA department has one essential software tip — automate repetitive tasks. Automation tools and scripts streamline the process, increase efficiency, and catch bugs faster. Plus, human testers have more time for complex scenarios and exploratory testing.

In addition to in-house testing protocols, evaluate any third-party tools you might be using. While integrations offer valuable functionality, they also introduce potential points of failure. Check them for compatibility and reliability to mitigate down-the-line risks.

3. Use Collaborative Code Reviews

Code reviews let team members share knowledge and get feedback. They also align software with the project goals by putting a fresh pair of eyes on it. Here’s how to implement them:

  • Before an employee submits code for review, they should ensure it meets your company’s coding standards.
  • Reviewers should check code for issues and provide a summary of changes, context, and questions.
  • Focus on quality, functionality, and readability, not nitpicks and preferences.
  • Act on the feedback. Update code and request a further review of the healthcare software solution if needed.

As the leader, emphasize that code reviews contribute to the company’s success. They push everyone to improve their performance, think outside the box, and be better team members.

4. Match the Code to Requirements

We might be able to imagine thousands of bells and whistles to improve the medical workflow and administration. But through working with doctors, we found that our grandiose ideas rarely align with what the end-users want. The best way to avoid bugs and usability issues is to match functionalities to precisely what the users want from your software. No more, no less — that’s our main software tip.

Analyze the requirements of the healthcare software solution before development and keep verifying that the two match throughout. Conduct code reviews, walkthroughs, and inspections to catch any deviation or feature creep early on. 

At Vitamin, we craft an SRS that details the software features we’ll build. That way, clients get to confirm things before we get coding.

5. Develop a Team-Wide Test Plan

planning a projectMany assume developers are the only ones to blame for bugs in healthcare software solutions. But in reality, everyone involved in development (from PMs to QAs) shares this responsibility.

Project Managers and stakeholders set goals and allocate resources. QA teams test for bugs. Even end-users can help by using the software and giving feedback. By collaborating, these groups can confirm the software is high-quality, with as few bugs as possible.

A test plan outlines your strategy, objectives, and extent, confirming you’ll check all software components before release. Have your stakeholders determine the exit criteria, which define the targets the software must hit to pass to the next stage.

6. Don’t Stop at Launch Date

The software release life cycle doesn’t end at launch date. Regular software maintenance is necessary to keep your product working as intended when the environment changes. You should create resources, tutorials, and guides to help healthcare workers leverage all software capabilities.

Despite rigorous testing, bugs and issues may still arise post-launch. Prioritize addressing these issues promptly through regular software updates and patches. At Vitamin, we perform monthly software maintenance to be proactive.

Why Do Software Bugs Happen?

bug in code

Errors in healthcare software solutions stem from various points of interaction between humans and systems — check this article if you want to learn more. Here are some common causes to look out for:

  • Human error. Developers are human, and they can make mistakes while writing code. They range from syntax errors to logical fallacies that trigger unexpected behavior in the program.
  • Miscommunication. Sometimes, developers may not fully understand the requirements or specifications provided to them. As a result, they implement incorrect functionalities.
  • Time pressure. Development schedules are often tight, and developers may feel pressured to deliver quickly. This can lead to cutting corners and skipping testing, which can introduce bugs.
  • Inadequate testing. Insufficient or ineffective testing can result in undetected bugs making their way into production.
  • Environment differences. Software may behave differently in various operating systems, hardware configurations, or network setups. This can only be fixed during software maintenance, as bugs only emerge post-deployment.

Building Reliable Software: The Vitamin Approach

At Vitamin, we foster a transparent culture that lets our developers collaborate, offer feedback, pose questions, and suggest improvements. We check for (potential) bugs at multiple stages of the software release life cycle:

  • The requirements gathering process. Several meetings with the client precede the creation of a collaboration agreement. The requirements are unambiguous, and we can nail the business needs.
  • The thorough testing procedure. We assign a QA software tester to each client. They familiarize themselves with the project and ensure the end product acts as expected.
  • Post-deployment maintenance. Bugs can pop up when the software is deployed in real-world environments. Our ongoing software maintenance and support involve addressing these bugs as they emerge.

Vitamin Software process for bug-free software

Final Suggestions and Next Steps

Essential functionalities and proactive bug fixing demonstrate your commitment to delivering a healthcare software solution that meets the needs of doctors, administrators, and patients.

Remember that, even in healthcare, where the product saves lives (if indirectly), some errors are acceptable. Find your zone of comfortable risk, know your priorities, and use our software tips to achieve excellence.

Have these takeaways with you during your next project:

  • Rather than expecting bug-free code, prioritize a functional product to address the needs of healthcare workers. Post-deployment software maintenance will do the rest.
  • Remember that most bugs stem from a gap between software functionality and user expectations. Mitigate this by creating a detailed plan before development.
  • Deciding between inexpensive software that works or a pricier option with near-perfect functionality? Consider your priorities and urgency in going live.

Are you facing persistent bugs that you can’t fix? Contact us for a consultation — we’ll have a well-rounded look at the product and suggest a path forward.

Vitamin Software

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