Case Study: Heart Test Laboratories

To Accelerate Go-to-Market for New Healthcare Device, Heart Test Laboratories Turns to SmartBear Collaborator

About Heart Test Laboratories

Heart Test Laboratories provides accurate, affordable screening tools for the early detection of heart disease through the continuous development of innovative electrocardiography. The company’s primary solution, MyoVista, is a low-cost, accurate screening test that helps assess heart disease—the leading cause of death and the largest spend area in healthcare. After $15M and eight years of time investment, research and development were completed in 2016. MyoVista then moved into production with units shipping in early 2017.

Business Need

Effective screening to assess the presence of heart disease can help shift the healthcare focus to earlier, lower-cost treatments and better patient outcomes. As Heart Test Laboratories identified a diagnostic gap—the lack of high-quality tools for effective low-cost heart screening—the company set out on its mission to bring the MyoVista product to the healthcare market.

The custom application that runs on MyoVista features an innovative and intuitive user-interface. After developing the application and entering the test phase, Aaron Peterson—the Vice President of Research and Development for Heart Test Laboratories—realized his seven-person development team still had a long road ahead of them.

“We needed to conduct unit testing, integration testing and final-acceptance testing to ensure the application performed as required,” says Peterson. “With the entire company under pressure to bring our very first product to market as quickly as possible, we needed to accelerate the process. A manual approach would have likely taken too long—perhaps three months.”

“It’s very powerful to have Collaborator create a documentation package that documents reviews with a great level of detail structured in a way to facilitate audits and integrate with other project documents. The solution helps our software team hit its milestones and complete our regulatory submissions when required. We also benefit from a 70% reduction in our code review and test review timeline."
Aaron Peterson, Vice President of Research and Development

Targeted Solution

Peterson already knew exactly which solution his team could turn to in order to rapidly accelerate the testing and code review process. He chose SmartBear Collaborator without giving serious consideration to any other code review solution.

“I also used Collaborator at a previous company—it’s the perfect tool for what we need when it comes to conducting unit tests and code reviews,” Peterson reveals. “I presented the benefits to the senior leadership team and communicated the value of making an investment in Collaborator—a faster time-to-market for MyoVista.”

SmartBear Collaborator enables software teams to execute code reviews and document reviews for every workflow—design, development and deployment. In addition to making it easy to document and review user stories and requirements, Collaborator also facilitates communication across dispersed teams.

“One of the key members of our developer team works offsite, so we need an efficient feedback mechanism to ensure we don’t lose any momentum when collaborating on code review items,” Peterson says. “Collaborator makes it easy for code authors to see the feedback from the reviewers and track the work each member is doing in repairing any defects—regardless of where team members physically work.”

From the end-user perspective, Peterson reports that the tool is very easy to learn. Using Collaborator right out of the box, Heart Test Laboratories did not have to create any custom workflows. “Our internal team picked up Collaborator fairly easily, and if we ran into any difficult configurations within our environment, SmartBear’s technical support team took us right through all the steps,” Peterson says.

Another key feature Collaborator offers is its flexibility to automatically integrate with Jira—the software issue tracking system that Heart Test Laboratories relies on. With documentation from the two systems closely linked, code reviewers and authors can communicate easily on comments that point out issues and the status of all related code changes.

Benefits and Results

By relying on SmartBear Collaborator, Peterson and his team reduced the projected three-month test and code review process to just three weeks, thus helping to bring MyoVista to market on time. “Even if we only used Collaborator for this initial release, that time savings was well worth the investment,” Peterson emphasizes. “In addition to accelerating our testing and reviews, we gained the ability to conduct higher-quality code reviews, which in turn enable us to enhance the functionality of our software.”

Peterson adds that Collaborator facilitates working through complex code so developers can focus on just the code that needs to be reviewed. The solution also provides before-and-after diff views and a well-documented audit log history of every reviewer’s comments.

“We even audited the output at the end of the project just to make sure Collaborator documented everything perfectly,” Peterson says. “The audits went super smoothly, which is rare on software development projects.”

The development team at Heart Test Laboratories also appreciates that Collaborator tracks reviews of documents created in Microsoft Word. Collaborator captures the reviewer’s name and any comments that others have. “It’s very convenient to manage both the code reviews and the written reports from within the same system,” Peterson says.

Another key area in which Collaborator is a big help involves the process for complying with industry regulations. The internal development team can more easily evaluate how well the software code implements the required risk controls. This is key when going through the risk-management process per regulatory stipulations to make sure MyoVista does not expose patients to any unnecessary risk.

“We applied Collaborator to conduct reviews of the risk controls to make sure they were properly implemented,” Peterson explains. “We tied the risk controls to the code review packets, and during the code review, we plugged any gaps we identified in the control coverage.”

Looking ahead to when Heart Test Laboratories will go through software revisions, which Peterson expects to occur once or twice per year, he anticipates Collaborator will be very helpful during the design stage in adjusting for stylistic coding. This will enable the code to be more easily maintained.

“It’s very powerful to have Collaborator create a documentation package that documents reviews with a great level of detail structured in a way to facilitate audits and integrate with other project documents,” Peterson concludes. “The solution helps our software team hit its milestones and complete our regulatory submissions when required. We also benefit from a 70% reduction in our code review and test review timeline—and that adds up when considering the salaries of our software engineers.”

Business Challenges

  • Accelerate code review testing to maintain product go-to-market schedule.
  • Facilitate code reviews among developers working in different offices.
  • Evaluate how well software code implements required risk controls per industry regulations.
  • Integrate code reviews with software issue tracking to streamline tracking of issue fixes.

SmartBear Collaborator

  • Executes and documents code reviews across the entire development workflow.
  • Streamlines documentation and review of user stories and requirements.
  • Integrates automatically with the issue tracking system.
  • Provides before-and-after diff views and audit log history of reviewer comments.

Measurable Results

  • Reduces test and code reviews from three months to three weeks.
  • Enables higher-quality code reviews that help enhance software functionality.
  • Streamlines working through complex code so testers focus on code requiring review.
  • Tracks code, test results and document reviews in one central system.
  • Helps identify adjustments for stylistic coding to facilitate code maintenance.
  • Facilitates compliance or risk controls with regulatory requirements.

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