Some time back I was working in one of the biggest Healthcare product development company which then owned close to 70 products catering to various disciplines within the hospital operations both Clinical and administrative. I however was working in one of the flagship products where we tried to unify the functionality within all the small products and come up with a Massive product for large hospital. You name the module we had it. It was a very ambitious project and we were bunch of analyst who was very Passionate about it.
Nevertheless we had a problem, the biggest problem is adoption of this new system by the end users, who were either nurse or doctors or hospital administrators or members of the admin team. They just were comfortable using pen and paper to go about doing the work they had. The writing on the wall was clear, its ‘We don’t want to automate our process’.
A rapid analysis team was formed to access the process, so a time-motion Study was sanctioned where the activities and the time taken to do this is studied and came up with the report which says that the time taken by a health care delivery personal, be it a doctor or a nurse or others who are involved in patient care to carry on with their work without technology aid is much shorter than having a gizmo to help them capture the patient information. Terms like patient safety, security, validation which improved treatment etc was only a secondary priority, where as ease of use was considered as one of the more important ones.
Now back in the drawing board, we where sitting and where trying to see how we could make this easy and we started this search on how we could unify and standardize the UI for industry adoption so that the minimum set of information is displayed and also a standard which will avoid software induced Patient Risk. Some of the standards which we identified while doing this project are
- MSCUI (Microsoft Common User interface) : A standard which was designed by the Microsoft while designing a healthcare product. It specific the
- NIST Guide to the Processes Approach for Improving the Usability of Electronic Health Records
- Defining and Testing EMR Usability: Principles and Proposed Methods of EMR Usability Evaluation and Rating.
Some of the points in principle which we had considered from the ‘Defining and Testing EMR Usability: Principles and Proposed Methods of EMR Usability Evaluation and Rating’ while defining the systems where
- Simplicity of the screen
- Minimizing cognitive load
- Efficient interactions
- Forgiveness and feedback
- Effective use of language
- Effective information presentation
- Appropriate Density
- Meaningful Use of Color
- Preservation of context
Yes, these are just commonsense however hey!! commonsense is seldom common and yes, considering these points make designing a Software usable and this making it more easy to adapt and to sell.