Thursday, September 01, 2016

This Offers Hope The user Interface Of EHRs Will Steadily Get Better. Can’t Wait!

This appeared a little while ago.

A look inside Epic's EHR design and usability teams

Healthcare IT News traveled to Epic’s campus to learn how the company thinks about design and usability. Takeaway: Health IT is hard. One vice president even said if she wanted an easier job she could just go to Facebook. 
August 22, 2016 07:28 AM
Janet Campbell is a software developer and vice president of patient engagement at Epic Systems.
In that role, she is focused on patient portals and engagement features but also on home health and telemedicine. That means working closely with the usability team as well as the standards and interoperability experts.
Campbell and other Epic developers — notably Sumit Rana, Epic’s senior vice president of R&D — work with clinicians toward the end goal of being to enable doctors and nurses to interact with patients in a way Campbell described as focused and friction-free.
Programmers doing fieldwork
“Anything and everything we now develop, whether it’s for a doctor, scheduler, caregiver, we’re always thinking how would a patient be a consumer of this information, and how would you think about that end-to-end thing,” said Rana, who in his early days at the company led the development of Epic’s MyChart patient portal.
Rana recounted working at a client health system in Chicago back in 2001-2002, when he had first started at Epic, and spending four nights in the ICU observing workflow.
“Until then I sort of knew what people wanted us to do,” Rana said. “I knew the features we wanted; I knew the technical components. But I did not get ICU – what it means to be in an ICU.”
Rana had to be there to understand what the care providers needed to effect the best care for patients, what their workflows were, how they went about their work.
As a result of these early on-site observations, in fact, Epic formalized the program requiring every developer to spend a minimum of four days and up to 18 days testing their applications in the field.
As Rana sees it, fieldwork helps Epic developers understand not only the technical and functional pieces, but it also enables them to view their technology through the eyes of providers and patients. Real-world users, in other words.
“I think what it teaches programmers is to care,” Rana said. “Because when you see someone struggling with something, it really bothers you, and you want to come back and say, ‘How would I do this so it functionally is doing what the user expected – how do I make it more intuitive?’”
Shadowing clinicians and appealing to patients
Under Epic’s program of developers spending time in the field, they follow clinicians as they work, listen to how they speak with one another and to patients, and gain a better sense of the types of reports caregivers write.
…..
'Health IT is hard'
Healthcare IT is probably one of the toughest industries for programmers, Campbell and Rana said.
“There are so many different variables that can go wrong. There are these societal pressures,” Campbell said.  
Campbell acknowledged that she could have a simpler job developing software at a less-demanding company or a sector with softer consequences when mistakes are made than the price paid for medical errors.
"If I wanted to have an easy job, you know,” Campbell said, “I could go be a software developer at Facebook.” 
More here:
This is a really hopeful article. I hope the work really make a difference for Epic and the rest of us!
David.

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