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Interesting EMR Interface Prototype

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I love when doctors and medical students talk about their first encounter with EHR software. In this case, I came across a medical student who ran into Epic in the hospital and writes about it in this post. Here’s his initial response to it:

I took the training module for it and the moment it loaded, I was bewildered. My monitor had turned into a wormhole and was suddenly displaying software built in the 1990s. I stared for 30 minutes at what was basically a wall of text, trying to find my way around small buttons and clogged sub-screens. I hadn’t even learned how to use Epic yet and I was already frustrated. Perhaps it’s because Epic was a platform built upon billing practices that made it so confusing. Either way, I was done before I had even begun.

The great part is that he wasn’t just complaining about the experience. He decided to create a prototype of what he thought an EMR interface could look like. Here’s his video prototype:

Obviously, it’s lacking a lot of detail, but I love his fresh take on how you could navigate the information in the EHR. We need more people who aren’t clouded with current EHR design to offer design suggestions like this.

August 27, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Redesigning The Patient Medical Record, the Healthcare Challenge’s Results

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The following is a guest post by Carl Bergman from EHR Selector.

The Obama administration’s, Challenge.gov site encourages the public to submit suggestions that solve specific, public policy questions. To do this, it’s set up dozens of contests or challenges. For example, the FTC has a $50,00 challenge for a solution to illegal robo calls that often come from off shore.

In healthcare, the VA and the ONC recently ran a Health Design Challenge for a better patient health record announcing the winners a few days ago.

The challenge asked for a record that:

  • Improves the visual layout and style of the information from the medical record
  • Makes it easier for a patient to manage his/her health
  • Enables a medical professional to digest information more efficiently
  • Aids a caregiver such as a family member or friend in his/her duties and responsibilities with respect to the patient

The entries were judged by a twelve person panel ranging from Wired Magazine’s Executive Editor, Thomas Goetz to Facebook’s Product Designer, Nicholas Felton to Dr. Sophia Chang, the director of the Chronic Disease Care program of the California Health Care Foundation. They looked at several features of a revamped record from overall appeal to how readily it shows important information and how accessible it is for physicians, patients, etc.

The Winners

The judges picked three big winners and three winners in the Problem History, Medication and Lab Summaries areas. Here’s a brief look at the top entries, but the submissions should be looked at more as a resource than a race result, as I’ll discuss.
Nightingale
First place went to Nightingale an anonymous group that won $16,000. Others won smaller amounts. In the next few months, elements of the winning designs will be put together and put up on Github.

Nightingale’s design stressed that health was a continuing concern and that a user should be able to see an improving or declining trend without having to dig for the data. They did this by integrating the often disparate information in visits, exams and lab results. You can see this emphasis in their lipid panel screen. Sliders place each test result for each test’s in a range. Good results slide to green while poorer result move to red.
StudioTACK
Second place StudioTACK took a somewhat similar approach to creating a problem history, which they call a medical strategy rather than a record. They did this by bringing their findings into a body map with references to location and organ.

Matthew Sanders’ CCD scored the best Problem History section award. Sanders rearranged and redesigned the traditional note not by condition nor by past chronology, but into a timeline of past, present and future actions. While he admits that his approach is somewhat redundant for meds, he emphasizes that this arrangement helps all the users maintain a focus on the most important areas for action. Sanders presentation notably describes how he implemented his approach. To do this, he stripped out standard label text, clarified terms and gave the remaining items visual emphasis. This type of analysis makes going through the submissions worth it.
Sanders CCD
This isn’t to say that the way the contest was run and the approach of many submissions  — including some prize winners — were without shortcomings. There were some notable problems.

The Contest’s Problems

The contest’s operators needed to be far more specific about what they wanted and how they judged the results.

The challenge’s purpose was far from clear:

The purpose of this effort is to improve the design of the medical record so it is more usable by and meaningful to patients, their families, and others who take care of them. This is an opportunity to take the plain-text Blue Button file and enrich it with visuals and a better layout. Innovators will be invited to submit their best designs for a medical record that can be printed and viewed digitally.

A medical record is an on going repository of a person’s health context, status, prognosis, plans, etc. It has many contributors and users. The VA’s Blue Button is a snapshot of the person’s status for their use. However, the contest uses these terms interchangeably. Due to this muddle, many of the submissions sent in designs for a medical record, while others, a minority, only redid the Blue Button’s outline. Thus, not all submissions were developed on the same basis. Indeed, the judges seem to acknowledge this since they gave first place to Nightingale, which claims, “to be a new take on health records.” The contest would have done much better if it asked for particular types of screens putting everyone on the same page, as it were.

The contest judging panel while distinguished, had no practicing physicians, nurses or practice managers, a significant failing. While three of the twelve judges are MDs, not one is a practicing physician.

Finally, if you’re going to hand out $50,000 in public funds, you might just want to say why you thought the winners stood out.

The Submissions

The contestants almost universally got one thing right. They designed their entries for desktops/laptops, pads and phones. They showed a great understanding that we don’t work on just one platform, but move from one to the other almost continuously. In this, they deserve much praise. However, all this cross platform awareness is done in by an appalling over, under and misuse of font color, and size. As one post noted about Nightingale:

The text is too small and medium gray on light gray is very hard to see, especially for older people and people on cheap computers with low contrast displays. How can this possibly be the first place winner?

The comment is generous. Nightingale’s gray on gray font is almost unreadable. Granted their submission is a PDF of a prototype, nonetheless the possibility of staring at their screens all day would give me a headache.

They are not alone in color misuse. Second place winner, Studio TACK, goes to excess the other way with a white text on red iPhone screen. It’s more suited to public safety than health.
StudioTack Mobile
Going through the submissions, however, can be most rewarding. I found a gem of a summary page in Uncorkit’s submission. Their infographic approach puts not only labs and weight history on timelines, but also includes BP, conditions and meds. It gives you a great overview and a logical place to drive down for detail information without overwhelming your senses.

The Health Challenge submissions have much to recommend them. Just remember how they came about and what they may or may not include.
Uncorkit

January 28, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Modernizing Medicine’s Unique EHR User Interface

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As most of you know, I’m always looking for something unique or different in the world of EHR software. I’m all about trying to find things that differentiate an EHR from other EHR vendors. I think I’ve found just that in the EHR interface for the Modernizing Medicine EHR software.

Modernizing Medicine currently focuses their EHR on two medical specialties: Dermatologists and Ophthalmologists. Their EHR is named EMA Dermatology and EMA Ophthalmology. Once you see the interface for their EHR, you’ll understand why it focuses on specialties like Dermatology and Ophthalmology. Plus, you’ll see why their next move should likely be into something like orthopedics.

Ok, enough background. I’ve had a bunch of the EHR Demo videos for Modernizing Medicine on our EMR and EHR Videos website. Here is the video of the simple Dermatology visit:

You can also check out the videos for the Complex Patient Visit and the Ludicrous Patient Visit.

I’ve seen a number of EHR companies incorporate images into their EHR. Most of them you can even do some sort of marking on top of the image. However, I don’t ever remember seeing an EHR that incorporated images the way that Modernizing Medicine did in the above video. Plus, they even take the documentation done on the image and turn it into a patient note automatically.

Certainly this type of interface won’t work for every specialty. It makes sense for medical specialties where it’s very visual like dermatology (which is where they stated).

I’d be interested to hear what others think of this EHR interface. Are there any other EHR software out there that take a similar approach to documentation?

January 20, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Software User Interface Redesign

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Today I opened up a web browser and eventually made it to Twitter to see what was going on. I was greeted by the not so friendly Twitter site redesign. If you’re on the Twitter page at all, you won’t miss it. To be honest, it felt like going to a foreign land. I use a number of tools for Twitter, but my favorite is just going to the Twitter website to consume and send my @techguy tweets. Although, maybe I should say it WAS my favorite place.

Yes, change is always hard, but isn’t that kind of the point? Was there any announcement about the change before it happened? Nope! Did they give users a chance to try the new interface before they made a wholesale swap to the new interface? Nope. Google’s actually done this really well recently with things like Gmail. They’ve made the new interface available, but you can always click back to the old interface if you don’t like. That way they can solicit feedback and improve the new interface while still not alienating those that love the old interface.

In my example on Twitter, I quickly was able to identify the thing that annoys me most. When I click on someone’s Twitter name it gives me a pop up box for that person. Before it use to have that appear on the side. It’s a small subtle change, but makes a huge difference since on the side I can continue consuming tweets, but in a pop up box I have to remove it before I continue on.

I could go on about the new Twitter, but the point is that software vendors have to be careful when they change the user interface. Maybe this new Twitter interface will even grow on me. I didn’t like the last time they changed the Twitter interface either, but once I found some of the secret features I came around for the most part. Maybe I’ll come around on this too, but it would have been nice if I knew it was coming.

What does this have to do with EMR?

The connection seems quite clear to me. EMR and EHR companies have to be really careful and considerate when they change their EHR interface. Give users options to be able to try it and to adapt to it over time. With a sort of limited opt in release of a new EMR interface to an active user base, you’ll likely get a lot of pointed feedback for the new EMR interface. Certainly you’ll get the useless “I hate the new look” emails without any value. However, you’ll also get the pointed emails that provide constructive ideas on things you probably didn’t realize were important in the old EMR interface.

Most SaaS EHR companies are constantly considering this since they’re rolling out changes to their software all the time. Client server based EHR software also takes it into account, but this can be shown and taught as each client is upgraded.

The main point is to be thoughtful of and upgrade to your EHR user interface. Get feedback and whenever possible let them opt in and out of the new interface so you don’t alienate your users.

While I may not be totally enamored by the new Twitter interface, I do always love new features in software. For example, as part of the new Twitter interface there’s a feature that lets you embed tweets. Here’s a few EMR related tweets to see how it works.


And then some big news from GE and Microsoft that just came out:

Hmmm…still looks like they have some work to complete on their embedded tweets (UPDATE: The preview looked different from when it’s posted. It’s not too bad in the actual post). Sounds like many doctors talking about EHR features that get rolled out.

December 8, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

The iPad Opportunity – A Decent EMR Interface

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Yesterday, I created a post on EMR & EHR called The Must Have EMR Feature – An iPad Interface. that post has driven quite a bit of discussion on Twitter and Google Plus. One comment from @2charlie hit me the most though:

2charlie – Charlie Gaddy
A decent web interface wouldn’t hurt either. RT @ehrandhit: The Must Have EMR Feature – An iPad Interface dlvr.it/tYkN7

Charlie’s twitter response highlights a number of interesting ideas. The first point that every SaaS EHR company will point out is that he said a web interface. We could go into the semantics of what is “the web”, but I have little doubt that Charlie meant a browser based interface when he said web. I’ll leave the rest of the discussion of “web” EMR interfaces for another post (plus, we’ve had that discussion many times on this site).

Instead, I want to focus on his use of the word “decent.” That adjective is interesting because no one would really argue that there aren’t plenty of web EMR interfaces out there. If you look at the EHR Scope EMR Comparison site, you’ll see a huge number of web based EMR companies listed. However, when you add the word “decent” to web EMR interface, I think we could have some really interesting discussion.

At least a couple times a week I get a doctor sending me an email or posting a comment on my website saying that “all of the EMR interfaces are terrible.” I don’t necessarily agree that “all” EMR interfaces are terrible, but a lot of them do fit the description quite well. I’m sure at this point all the EMR companies are thinking about their competitors and agreeing with me.

The iPad Opportunity for EMR Interfaces
As I thought on Charlie’s comment of a “decent web interface” as compared with an iPad EMR interface, I realized that the iPad provides a unique opportunity for EMR vendors with less than stellar web interfaces. While it would be great for EMR vendors to create stellar web interfaces or improve their current web interfaces, that’s much easier said than done. Many are working on older technologies. Others have so much company culture built into their interface that it’s hard to change. Many have large user bases that will freak out at the idea of a new web interface. Etc etc etc! The point being that the culture and history of many EMR interfaces make it hard to change.

In these cases, I see the iPad as a great opportunity to start fresh with your EMR interface. Many EHR vendors could use the iPad as a way to be able to create a new interface for their EMR with all the knowledge they’ve learned over the years baked in. Doctors expect the iPad interface to be different and unique.

I’ll be interested to see which EMR companies take this opportunity and make something of it. It’s the perfect chance for EMR companies to create a paradigm shift in their EMR software without having to admit publicly the mistakes they made in their first EMR interface. Unless you happen to be from an EHR company who built the perfect EMR interface from the start. Then, this need not apply.

November 4, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Future EMR Differentiation Will Be Usability and Not Features

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This week I saw a product demo of EMR vendor, SOAPware. Now that SOAPware has their fully integrated practice management system, they have a great demo and all the features you could want in an EMR system.

In fact, as I was watching the demo and asking questions about different features they might have or not have I came to an interesting realization. SOAPware, and most EMR vendors that have been around for any reasonable amount of time, have all of the features covered. They all have ePrescribing. They all have CPOE, and Clinical Decision Support. They all have allergy and drug interaction checking, etc etc etc.

Basically, it seems like the EMR market has matured to the point that we’ve covered all the base features that a doctor could use for their clinic. The real challenge now is going to be how usable an EMR vendor can make their software.

That’s right, Usability is going to start to trump features as a provider differentiates the various EMR software.

The fundamental challenge of an EMR software has been the time a doctor spends charting in their EMR. I don’t think that we’ve really nailed down the user interface that’s going to change this yet. Certainly there’s been some really great progress since EMR software was first launched. The iPad and other touch screen devices present and interesting alternative input method. However, I think there’s still a lot of room for some EMR vendor to dramatically change the game on how a doctor interacts with their EMR software. I’m talking revolutionary change to the interface and approach. I look forward to that day.

Full Disclosure: SOAPware is an advertiser on EMR and HIPAA, but they didn’t pay me to write this article or talk about seeing their demo.

October 4, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.