Health IT tip of the day: Design technology with physicians in mind

Physician-facing clinical applications — whether native to an EHR or developed to complement the EHR — should require physician input early and often.

Don Burt, MD, CMO at PatientKeeper in Waltham, Mass.: Since physicians are the most limited and valuable resource in the healthcare provider ecosystem, it is ludicrous to design systems physicians are expected to use productively without their direct involvement from the outset. This type of involvement begins with having system designers observe physicians' current workflow so software applications respect and support that workflow, rather than re-invent it unnecessarily. Then physicians need to test the applications as they are built, paying particular attention not only to how many clicks/taps are required and alerts are presented, but also to how clinical applications interact with each other to support a physician's typical non-linear workflow — from viewing test results, to entering orders, back to results, to documentation, to charging, or any permutation thereof. It is time for hospital IT infrastructure to enable physicians to be efficient, ultimately allowing them to focus more on the patient and not on understanding the technology.

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