Technology

The Importance of User Experience Design in Clinical Software

April 11, 2016

Efficient time management is the biggest asset in any clinician’s tool belt. Therefore, the clinical software that physicians and nurses use every day for their practice must maximize efforts of saving time and ensuring that patients are receiving the highest quality patient care. Ideally, clinical software should reflect and facilitate the natural rhythms of a clinician’s daily practice, meeting their unique needs as seamlessly and effortlessly as possible – user experience design makes that a reality.

Clinician Experience Design Process

User experience design (UXD) is a process by which digital or physical products are created to be practical, easy to use, and offers a positive experience for the person interacting with the product, also known as the end-user. With clinicians as the end-users of clinical software, there must be a great deal of research and insight into the workflows and needs of that particular user group in order to design software that would be the most useful and helpful for clinicians.

The UXD Process:

Empathize: The UXD process begins with first examining and understanding the landscape of the user’s needs. What are some of the pressing challenges that they face on both a high and granular level? Understanding that health care is very different than consumer or manufacturing sectors is critical to empathizing with the particular pain points of this industry.

Define: Learning as much as possible about the various end-users is critical to contextualizing their challenges and needs. Who are the users? At what capacity will they be interacting with the software?

Clinicians | Nurses | Allied Health Professionals | Hospital Administrators

Idea: Brainstorming all the different ways that a clinician might interact with the software in order to meet the current and future needs of their practice. This approach is revolutionary for health care because it doesn’t dictate how a doctor is supposed to use software, but considers their behaviours when designing a products – the software is built around the user.

Prototype: The UXD process rolls out in an iterative, step by step manner. Beginning with low fidelity prototypes, paper sketches, allows designers to work out the usability of a product frame by frame, mapping out the potential end-user usage behaviours and patterns with their goals.

This is followed by mid-fidelity prototypes, which are rough digital images of each frame, which leads to a high-fidelity prototypes, actual digital frames that have been developed based on many levels of research, insight, and feedback from users, and will now go into development.

This is a resourceful development process because it creates room and time for feedback, changes and redesigns based on clinicians’ usage.

Interface that mimics clinical realities

As technology continues to evolve, adapt, and grow in other sectors, it’s critical that health care doesn’t fall behind, especially as it relates to patient safety and quality of care. Equipping clinicians with tools that mimic and modernize their natural workflow patterns will make all difference for widespread adoption of clinical technology.

Similar to the trash can or desktop features on most computers and mobile devices, elements that depict actual objects in people’s lives, clinical software should use tangible aspects of clinicians’ practice in their user interface design. For example, designing digital forms, order sets, and progress notes in a way that makes intuitive sense, look and “feel” similar to their paper counterparts, would be optimal for encouraging clinician usage and adoption.

Modernizing clinical software and digital tools is imperative to setting up health care’s success for the future. Digital design that deeply considers clinicians’ needs, practice patterns, and improves their workflows in an intuitive and seamless way will set the stage for greater adoption rates and a much more efficient health care system.

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