2005-10-24 00:00:00

User interface design for healthcare applications

When I worked on one of my first healthcare applications back in 1994 it was designed for TTY (UNIX terminal) use. The state of the art at the time was full-screen GUIs like Windows 3.1 but in the helathcare world we’re always years behind (for good reason sometimes). One thing I’ve noticed is that modern healthcare UI designs circa 2005 are no more “usable” than designs 10 years ago.

We’ve moved to Windows and web technologies but ultimately everything has just been about data entry, pick lists, tabs (and more tabs), etc. Every vendor claims their applications are “intuitive” to use but with such complex workflows and business processes in the healthcare world it’s unclear what intuitive means.

We need more people who know how to interpret what users say into language that developers will understand. The “requirements team” is not the same as an expert in UI design. Most firms will end up using systems analysts for the purpose of designing UIs or hire a “graphics guy” to do their graphics and assume that’s the UI. What they don’t understand is that user experience in a complex application has little to do with the way things look and more to do with how they work.

If you’re involved with creating UIs for healthcare apps, here are some useful links that may help you learn more about the topic:

  • A user-centered framework for redesigning health care interfaces
  • Human Factors MD (organization)
  • Four Basic Activities to Reach Optimal Usability
  • HHS Usability.gov
  • Making Medical Device Interfaces More User-Friendly (a little old but still useful)
Filed under: — @ 2005-10-24 00:00:00