Implementing an EHR like Epic for a large health system is a hefty task, and there are many specialized …
For hospitals implementing Epic, it’s critical to allot time for adequate testing cycles to validate functionality of the EHR and all the connected interfaces. While it’s understandably ill-advised for health systems to rush through this process, we see an even bigger mistake when project sponsors allow clinical end users to perform User Acceptance Testing (UAT) ad hoc. We get it: clinical testers are busy and both willingness and availability can be hard to come by (especially these days). However, we can’t stress enough the critical nature of proper testing for Epic implementation, and how formal test cases can support productive UAT that drives results and confidence.
UAT Sign Off As A Line In The Sand For The EHR Go-live
One of the important functions of well-executed UAT is that the Epic implementation project team can establish a line in the sand in terms of when the work is considered done (at least for now). Development, configuration, and interface management of the EHR solution can certainly take much of the focus of the overall project, but it’s the attention to detail upon delivery that can drive Go-live success and ultimately adoption. UAT is a huge part of this, requiring that designated testers walk through core functionality and use cases as expected to support their clinical workflows.
Without formal test cases to drive this validation, however, there’s very little confidence that an end user has actually established that expected functionality is present in total, and that clinical throughput will not suffer when cutover occurs. This is highly risky, so it benefits hospitals greatly to make sure adequate test case tools are made available to drive process-oriented testing. (And these don’t have to be overly complicated; a solid Excel sheet can get the job done just fine without bells and whistles.)
Reinforce Epic Best Practices While Validating Core Functionality
The other benefit of leveraging documented test cases is that UAT can also help reinforce best practice usage of Epic as a follow up to training. Going through classroom or digital learning instruction for the EHR is one thing, but actually getting hands-on time with the solution is where end users can really solidify their understanding of the application and proceed with confidence and accuracy. This also avoids users trying to force the tool to operate in an unexpected manner, which can lead to frustration and potentially even technical issues.
While the best healthcare IT is intuitive enough to operate without a lot of direction, it’s still prudent to instruct end users how to navigate solutions in a manner that is grounded in their real-life applications, such as relevant clinical use cases translated into detailed test cases. This drives mastery and ensures that the configurations and connections in place actually serve the intended purpose and function as needed.
Smoke Tests Have No Place In Epic Testing For Go-live
Given the complexity and vital nature of the EHR functioning as expected — every time, without fail — it’s a no-brainer that any changes or implementation efforts for Epic are properly validated before release to healthcare providers on the front lines. Smoke tests may be acceptable during the development process to quickly vet small tweaks. But when it comes to the formal implementation of Epic, User Acceptance Testing must be driven by documented test cases that cover the full spectrum and level of detail required to set physicians up for success.