The need for UX in the medical industry

I’ve been thinking about UX’s role in the health industry lately. Medical staff must log patient details into legacy computer systems (and sometimes multiple computer systems) as part of their daily routine. Better technology solutions are needed to create efficiency for our health providers so that they can more easily focus on their patients. I feel the health industry deserves some good ole UX attention right now.

Stitches and patches

One mild night in late December, as I was getting a sizable gash on my thumb stitched up, I talked to my doctor about the poor user interface of his computer applications. He spoke of computer interfaces at hospitals that made no sense, were extremely old and outdated, and simply swallowed up too much of his shift. He knew I was a web designer, and he now had a captiveĀ audience (in more ways than one, if I wanted those stitches in) to make his case. He avidly implored me to make things better by talking with doctors to learn their needs and make a product that fits the demands of their job.

I spoke to another individual about a year ago who was seeking a UX designer to help with some software that was to be used by medical staff as well as the patient. He also seemed eager (with a slight edge on desperate) to hire a UX designer who could help make his software easily usable by doctors and their patients.

My husband works in an outpatient clinic, and most nights I hear how he has blank number of patient notes to write (among other types of documentation) just to catch up. He also does PRN work at a local hospital, and after his first shift there, he was so confused by the computer system into which he entered patient notes. Apparently, there were three different programs to type the same patient data. In addition, some data fields were drop downs when he simply needed a text box to provide the correct patient information. Writing a patient note took him nearly as long as actually treating the patient due to entering redundant data and the poor user interface.

How can we make these programs and interfaces better for our health providers? How can we make these systems talk with one another so that redundant data isn’t flowing rampant? How can we make these applications easier and efficient so that more time is dedicated to patients?

Warm (and intelligent) bodies

The health field needs UX professionals who can navigate through the quagmire of patient and doctor needs and create meaningful applications for medical staff. I’ve seen UX jobs continually fill the job banks over the past couple years, and thankfully, there are a few companies out there that were built for this exact purpose — bettering medical software. If you’ve ever wanted a job that had meaning to it, creating user interfaces to bring doctors and their patients together is the perfect fit.Ā 

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