Impact Insights

Doctor, Doctor! On Effectively Communicating with Physicians Part III

How to Think Like a Physician When Designing

Keep it simple when designing systems for physicians.  While it may not be simple to build, an ultimate product that is streamlined, efficient and delivers the right data at the right time with the right ease of access to the physician will ultimately result in the best physician adoption.

Keep in mind that Electronic Health Records are a tool for physicians to use in their core business, patient care. The EHR is just like a scalpel for a surgeon or a stethoscope for a cardiologist.  These days it would be difficult to practice medicine without any of these valuable tools.  But, if any of them are not working properly, it is certain to be a bad day for the doctor.

Here are some general tips when designing for physicians.

  •  Always validate your build suggestions with physicians who are actually using the tool to see patients.
  • If it is a cool new feature that looks great and is cutting edge, but doesn’t save clicks, increase the amount of information easily available to physicians in one place or clearly improve patient outcomes, don’t implement it.
  • Reserve alerts to the bare minimum required for patient safety or quality care.  Acknowledging alerts can add hundreds of clicks (and minutes to hours of time) to a physician’s day without positively affecting patient outcomes due to alert fatigue.  Make your alerts count!
  • Make alerts actionable.  Allow physicians to perform any task necessary right from the alert without having to go to another screen.
  • Place as much relevant patient data on one screen for review all at once as possible (as long as it is easy to read).  An at-a-glance report like a snapshot is incredibly valuable when triaging patients or preparing to walk into an exam room.
  • Build strong synopsis reports to view relevant trends over time for patients with chronic conditions.
  • Different specialties need to see different information.  Make sure that you build specialty specific reports and filters to speed viewing of relevant patient information.
  • Understand provider workflows and build navigators that mimic that workflow closely.  Avoid adding extra sections or tasks to the navigators “just in case” the doctor wants to use them.  Make these extra activities accessible but not part of the stream-lined workflow.
  • Build so that each care team member can work at the top of their licensure.  If a physician credential is not required to complete a task, design workflows that allow alternate care team members to perform the task.
  • Design evidence-based protocols into the workflow rather than creating alerts.
  • Make sure that all build changes having integrated testing before being put into production.  There is nothing worse than announcing a great change, only to have that change break three other things for doctors or staff.  Even small “breaks” can make a big difference in physician productivity!

These are just a few suggestions that will go a long way toward keeping doctors happy!

For more from Dr. Tonya Edwards, find Parts I and II here and here respectively.  For information regarding physician-related consulting services, reach Impact Advisors here.