Allscripts to showcase move to human-centered design at HIMSS20

It’s a big change for the EHR giant. A company vice president and its external design expert explain what human-centered design is – and what it means for its healthcare customers.
By Bill Siwicki
02:42 PM
Allscripts to showcase move to human-centered design at HIMSS20

At HIMSS20 in March, Allscripts will be introducing a human-centered design approach and re-imagining of its physician experience for today’s highly mobile world. The company will showcase a prototype of the new solution for attendees to experience.

Human-centered design is a proven approach to solving problems of any size, explained Jenna Date of Jenna Date Design. Her firm helps companies design innovative futures for their clients with a deep focus in human experience. She currently is providing human-centered design strategy for Allscripts designers.

Four steps to human-centered design

“It is a series of methodologies and practices that use divergent thinking to solve for intrinsic human needs, rather than the ‘asked for’ answer,” she continued. “There are four key steps to the process: setting scope, gathering insights in context, envisioning a possible future based on those insights, and then iteratively prototyping and testing the new solution.”

Throughout all steps of the process, the design team keeps the human experience at the center, she said. Through empathy and compassion for the persons who use their product, the creation team can ensure their solutions meet the needs and desires of their customers and end users, she contended.

"Human-centered design limits the cost of changes to a system by iterating quickly and cheaply early in the development cycle."

Jenna Date, Jenna Date Design

“For technologists, human-centered design produces successful outcomes at every step of the design and development process,” she said. “Product requirements are gathered from end user needs, mitigating risk by ensuring the business is building the right thing. It limits the cost of changes to a system by iterating quickly and cheaply early in the development cycle. Human-centered design also increases innovation by revealing opportunities beyond the typical functionality.

“Most important, designers, business strategists and developers use the human-centered design process to create beautiful, useful, usable and meaningful solutions for their customers and end users,” she added.

Why Allscripts is making the move

So why has Allscripts decided to apply human-centered design to its EHR technology? Paul Minton, Allscripts’ vice president of product management, explains.

“Allscripts has taken the view that while the user-centered design process in use by all EHR vendors today and as required by the ONC has been, in general, a step forward for delivering better designed features for clinicians, something is still missing,” said Minton.

“The user-centered design process is good in building features based on personas, meaning the user type using the software like physician, nurse, registration clerk; however, what is missing is taking the entire human perspective into account. The emotions, thoughts and desires of the humans using our solutions are vital to understand in order to create products that delight.”

"Allscripts has taken the view that while the user-centered design process in use by all EHR vendors today and as required by the ONC has been, in general, a step forward for delivering better designed features for clinicians, something is still missing."

Paul Minton, Allscripts

Understanding the real motivations of the people using the vendor’s products is key to delivering outstanding software, he added.

“For example, a provider may say he or she wants a certain workflow to be more efficient,” he explained. “That is something that is universally common to all providers, but what is important to know is the why. Is the why due to the provider wanting to see more patients, or is it to spend more time with their patients or yet is it so they can get home at a decent hour and have some quality time with family?”

The psychology behind ‘why’

Depending on the why, the motivation, Allscripts would design differently for all three scenarios, and human-centered design takes that into consideration, it looks at the psychology behind the why, he said.

“Another good example is one that our director of human factor experts team, Dr. Ross Teague, teaches to our clients when he discusses the science of usability,” Minton said. “It goes something like this: In some places in the winter it snows a lot, covers the driveway routinely. People feel they need a tool that they can use to remove the snow. If we asked them what it is they needed or what outcome they were trying to achieve, they might describe features for a better snow shovel or blower.”

Fair enough: But what is missed was what they really wanted and that is a cleared driveway, he explained. Using human-centered design, Allscripts would ask the question why, and be able to design for the human desire and not the technical object. That is why Allscripts will use human-centered design to create any new features or solutions in 2020 and beyond, Minton stated.

How the design will impact the company

Designer Jenna Date explains how human-centered design will impact Allscripts and its many and varied products.

“To start with the concept, look at the physicians’ mobile workflow,” she said. “In the end state, this product will allow the physician to access their work on any device at any moment in a calm and thoughtful way. For this MVP we are narrowing the focus to the few minutes a physician has between patients.”

In that brief moment in time, the physician needs to close the chart of a previous patient and prepare for the next patient in a seamless and intuitive manner, she said. The design goal is to ensure the physician can get home to put her 3-year-old to bed in the evening, she explained.

A different tomorrow

Allscripts has high hopes for the outcomes of its human-centered design-influenced technology with users. Things will be different than how they are today.

“Ultimately our goal is to decrease the cognitive burden and emotional burnout that clinicians are feeling today in healthcare,” said Minton. “While the EHR is not the only reason this exists, it does have an important role to play in driving better outcomes for our users and their patients.

“Specifically with our first foray into using human-centered design to re-imagine a best possible in-between-patients workflow, our task would be to place the relevant information that a provider needs to know about the next patient in an easy-to-consume visual display on a mobile device as they move between patients,” he added.

In the past, this activity typically would be done after hours during what the industry has come to call “pajama time,” he added.

“Our desired outcome for this design would be to eliminate the after-hours next-day preparation in order to preserve the provider’s pajama time, promoting a healthier quality of life for them, leading to the best possible patient care,” he said.

As for the big picture, as Allscripts proves out that human-centered design is the way to design software in healthcare that guarantees the desired outcomes for usability, the company would hope to see ONC adopt this approach so that all humans that use other EHRs would benefit, Minton added.

“As for my personal hope as a nurse, it would be that providers and clinicians would see EHR 2.0 become a tool that provides the confidence and ability to practice safely at the top of their licensure while creating a certain enjoyment using our solutions,” he concluded.

Allscripts will be in Booths 1501 and 7861 at HIMSS20.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com
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