Friday, August 15, 2008

Getting Technology that Actually Works in Healthcare

There is a article in the fox news site titled: Let's See Gadgets That Actually Work which talks about the frustrations of twenty years of dealing with technology and the fact we are still "fussing" with it.

My own experiences are best represented by one of my favorite people who remains firmly in the camp of "technology needs to be simple to use and does what I need it to do"...
A lot of this has to do with the simple fact that I don't enjoy playing
with machines. I just want them to do what I need them to do with
minimum fuss.

Much of this has to do with a disconnect between designers and users....Motorola had a break out product when they made these two groups the same in designing the original Razr. They gave their engineers carte blanch to build a phone to specifications they would want as users; the result was the Razr which was a smash hit and redefined mobile phones for many.

In a recent thread discussion on the AMDIS listserv one of the participants asked for help in preparing a presentation: "Can IT actually improve medicine without killing the physicians". One of the insightful responses made this exact point:
IT folks tend to work physically isolated from clinicians, but physically proximate to one another, where they reinforce each others' views (and misconceptions).
Exactly! The author suggested that one of the ways to combat this is bring IT folks into your practice, force them to be there during busy working periods and to experience everything you experience from the failures and successes of the technology you deal with. I couldn't agree more...and have made this very point in every company I have ever worked in. Engineers, designers, coders, product managers, and others needs to immerse themselves in the working clinical environment..... maybe instead of bring a child to work day we should have bring an engineer to work day!

At the end of the day - to use Jonathan Weber's words
I just want tools that work. And in that, I don't think I'm alone
I think he's right and this is true in healthcare with some variations in tolerance for the failure and difficulties in using the technology represented by the typical adoption curve

For technology to be successful and rapidly adopted we have to appeal to the larger cohort of users in the tail of the chart. That's the "early and late majority" and that boils down to ease of use and the functionality the tools offer. If the tool makes a clinicians life easier, speeds up a process or reduces the time to carry out a process or procedure then adoption will be faster....

So how about it..... bring an engineer or programmer to work with you next week. However just for the record I disagree with
Jonathan on the iPhone. It is cool, it is useful and it is functional but as always YMMV

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