• 08 MAY 12
    • 1
    Following your patients home to see how they are doing

    Following your patients home to see how they are doing

    When Microsoft was developing the early versions of Visual C++  – the team, led by Jim McCarthy understood the importance of an easy installation and made it a top priority.

    This was more than 10 years ago and it’s still true.

    If you install a new medical practice management system or application for e-prescriptions, the first thing you look for is a fast, easy, headache free installation process – and getting up and running and trying out that new toy as soon as possible.


    If you are using digital tools  for connecting and interacting with your patients; like the private social network for healthcare – you want everything to be as slick and as fast as possible.

    The revolution of Android and iPad tablets has created a new level of expectations for ease of use.

    But, how did the team from Microsoft get to a fast and easy installation process?

    They sent a few people out into the field, to stores like Egghead Software who were selling retail boxed versions of packaged software and followed people who purchased  a new version of Visual C++ to the cash register and then  showed them their Microsoft employee badge and politely asked if they could come home with them and observe the installation. By following new customers home and observing the installation process, taking notes and then going back to the development group in Redmond – the Microsoft Visual C++ team was able to iterate quickly and create an easy and fast installation process that would delight new users and give them some instant gratification.

    Many of the healthcare IT systems in use today, often have Windows 95 vintage user interfaces.  Looking at an iPad, this defines clunky!

    Over a decade ago,  when these healthcare IT systems were developed, their developers most likely used a waterfall life-cycle model.  That the systems fail to match  physicians and patients workflow and needs is no surprise.

    Ironically,  contemporary software engineering methods include investigatory techniques employed by physician-researchers who study medical systems.

    You can and should employ Use case analysis (how people use your new healthcare application) and contextual inquiry and ethnography that involve user shadowing (following them home…) and observing how people actually use the healthcare application in order to make sure that it makes physicians more effective and patients more healthy.

    So – here’s a call to all the healthcare software app developers out there – take a page out of Visual C++ success story and follow your users home!

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  • Posted by Danny on May 8, 2012, 3:39 pm

    Many clinical systems currently in use were created prior to the recent, dramatic changes in healthcare delivery and social networks like Facebook.

    Reply →

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