Apps for Health – Tips for Building an App, Key Trends in Health IT

Prezi presention from @azbib (Heart and Stroke foundation) from today’s Apps for Health event.

Product developers, have a read: 10 great, practical tips on approaching app development that applies to mobile and traditional application products.

Also, some key trends in health for 2013 (originally from Forbes).

Designing for the ‘Public’ and the ‘Pros’

I read Seth Godin frequently. I like his style of thinking about and explaining things. Here, he discusses designing interfaces for the public and for pros.

How does this relate to healthcare IT? An example is when designing an image viewer interface. The needs of most clinicians (and certainly patients) are different from those of a Radiologist (though some ‘power users’ outside Radiology would disagree, if for no other reason than they feel they should get access to the same tools as Rads, so as not to be thought of as second-class citizens).

While enterprise IT staff want a single image management and viewing system to buy and manage, the needs of the users do vary and need to be considered. Select one optimized for Radiology and more basic imaging consumers are frustrated with the complexity. Provide a viewer that is simple to use, and power users complain about the lack of features.

Managing all images generated in the different departments in a VNA at least gives enterprise IT one of its wishes. As enterprise viewers evolve to provide more capability, more of the power users will shift from using the PACS to the enterprise viewer. The design challenge, of course, is to maintain the ease of use of the enterprise viewer as these more advanced features are added.

Many PACS interfaces were based on existing modality workstation design (in part to appeal to modality technologists and PACS admins, who were often former technologists), which was never a design priority or strength of modality manufacturers. Hopefully, enterprise image viewer developers use the opportunity to define some new interface designs, and not just copy the old, ineffective ones.

Article – At Healthcare Experience Design conference, designers rethink ‘broken processes’

In this article, the topic of user experience design in Electronic Medical Record (EMR) applications is explored. They also briefly discuss the use of EMR technology by patients.

Some thoughts…

  • The fact that EMR user interfaces are often hard-to-use, and are undesirable by the user community they are intended to serve, is not news. EMRs are often, at their core, records management systems, presenting medical records generated by other systems, or by users typing data into the EMR. It is no surprise that information is presented like a big electronic filing cabinet. Niche players are trying to layer solutions on top of the EMR to present the information relevant for a given interaction in a more meaningful way. Often, if the EMR is not built with an open architecture (with APIs for external applications to discover and access information), a copy of (some of) the data is kept in a secondary system. Hopefully, IHE FHIR succeeds and enables an integration ecosystem for EMR add-ons that is tantamount to the platform needed to have an “App Store”.
  • Designing applications for trained medical professionals is hard enough. Trying to build a user interface that makes sense to, and it optimized for the use by, both an Oncologist and my grandmother is near impossible. Medical terminology alone is enough to confuse most patients. Then consider the questions and concerns of the patient as they start to review their CT images and wonder what that little whitish spot might be. In this article, many of the docs surveyed expressed concern over patient access to their own electronic medical records (which is why Personal Health Records were created, friends).