Friday, November 23, 2012

How I met your EMR

It was the day Chief Barney told me his wife was filing for divorce after she caught him red wanded in bed with Nurse Robin and Nurse Lilly. Too Much Information.
I had the same reaction when I first played with your EMR screen. And the more I put whatever’s left of my brains around it, the clearer the diagnosis gets: blame it on poor software design.
It’s Conrad Wai who said it best in the Economist: “data is not the technical issue here. It’s a synthesis problem. That’s because information is not the scarce resource. Attention is.”
And that’s exactly where UI comes in, to focus users’ attention on what they need, when they need it and how they need it. Companies like Apple have long understood the importance of UI. Maybe they did nothing more than read Wikipedia's definition of UI after all - because, guess what, it’s all in there:

"the goal of human-machine interaction engineering is to produce a user interface which makes it easy, efficient, and enjoyable to operate a machine in the way which produces the desired result. This generally means that the operator needs to provide minimal input to achieve the desired output, and also that the machine minimizes undesired outputs to the human."

What your EMR does, unfortunately, is the exact opposite. Searching through this thing is like getting presents from your in-laws on Xmas Eve: they get you all the crap in the world except for the gadget you wanted. And the problem with healthcare is the following, guys: when you overload physicians with useless data while making their job 10 times more painful, they are more likely to make errors. So it’s patients who end up paying the bill; in other words, you.
But not to worry. I won’t slap, I wanna help. That's why I prepared the following motivational posters √† la Barney for you, dear vendors, to frame in your cafeterias. Hopefully they will help your Scrum teams see the light while eating pizza.


For those software architects who’d rather have a copy-and-pastable version of what physicians mean by a “bro EMR”, feel free to suit-up and reuse the following in your big meeting tomorrow morning. Take it as a free trial of my sincere desire to work with you guys more – all it takes sometimes is a phone-five call.

So, dear bro vendors, here are the first clues as to how to make your EMR code… wait for it…LE-GEN-DA-RY:
Article 1 - A bro EMR doesn’t try to fit everything it has to display into one single screen.
Article 2 - A bro EMR knows that when you overload a bro with information, he’s likely to make more medical errors.

Article 3 - A bro EMR knows that anything beyond 20 seconds or 3 clicks is not acceptable.
Article 4 - A bro EMR pulls up critical patient information instantly because bros’ time is precious and they need it to save lives.
Article 5 - A bro EMR has customizable screens and dashboards because Cardio bros and ER sisters don’t expect the same critical data on their main screen for instance.
Article 6 - A bro EMR lets bros create, edit and sign off notes using any input method, any device and a combination of them.
Article 7 - A bro EMR provides standards for templates and data collection.
Article 8 - A bro EMR is more than a browser for scanned documents because when the brotherhood searches for data afterwards using keywords, it doesn’t work (duhh).
Article 9 - A bro EMR doesn’t mix lab results just for the sake of hearing bros and nurses sing the “You just got slapped” song. They used to work so well together, you know.
Article 10 – A bro EMR is so awesome that bros want to use it as much as they want to use their iPhone. Yes, healthcare deserves awesome software. Don't take my word for it. Take Chief Barney's.

ps: special thanks to my son for the poster rework. I guess I was right to get you that Photoshop license for Xmas last year.


1 comment:

  1. What a great article! I have been doing research on EMR for my health sciences class. I love the reference to How I Met Your Mother, one of my favorite shows! Anyway, thanks so much for the very useful information.