30 April 2019
Your computer is slow, and the screen keeps flashing. Your mouse is jumping around, your shoulders are stiff, and the sun is shining right into your eyes. You slept badly last night, and you are already thinking about tomorrow’s jobs.
No IT system is ever used in a vacuum. Instead, user experiences with IT systems are created in real life situations and involve not only the user interface but also the operating environment, the equipment being used, its condition, and the users themselves with all their knowledge, skills, experiences and emotions. As a result, the user experience with an IT system can be anything but positive, even if the user interface has been designed and made to be ideal for the user.
Development work is guided not only by user needs but also by national laws and guidelines
Since the user experience depends also on the size of the organisation, as well as its internal processes, tools and range of different users, the job of improving the user experience of healthcare IT systems is a puzzle with many pieces.
Healthcare organisations, like hospitals, are multi-profession work communities with no single homogenous user group who would share the same IT needs.
In addition, the processing and administration of patient information is regulated by numerous national laws, decrees and guidelines, which naturally have to be taken into consideration when developing IT systems. The statistics obligation also influences directly and concretely what fields need to be included in the user interface, regardless of whether they improve the user experience or not.
Usability tests provide feedback about genuine usage
A wide range of software development engineers at Tieto work with healthcare IT systems; in fact, many have educational backgrounds in healthcare. Their expert knowledge of the healthcare sector helps our engineers understand the most important aspects of the everyday work of hospitals or other healthcare units, and in this way understand also how IT systems can be designed to serve the core tasks of their users in the best possible way.
The best experts, of course, are those who actually work in hospitals, health centres and other healthcare units on a daily basis. Accordingly, usability tests – including healthcare professionals in the practical development work of IT systems – has been absolutely essential in designing the user interface for the Lifecare system.
Usability testing involves a lot of careful planning to enable individuals who best represent the end users to test the system. The tests simulate actual usage situations in order to provide our experts with concrete data about any possible shortcomings in the design, both by monitoring the users and through verbal feedback.
Test days help us clarify how well users understand the contents of the IT system, how they feel about the structure of the user interface, whether the system conforms with actual processes and workflows, how easily they find the most important fields and icons, and whether the graphics, diagrams and other visual elements are clear and comprehensible.
A joint vision leads to the best possible result
The input of our customers in the development work of IT systems is priceless. The best possible result is achieved when all parties – healthcare organisations, national actors and software developers – all pull together. In this way, everyone who participates in the development of healthcare IT systems share a common understanding about their joint vision, all the different work processes, and the data processing needs of the system’s end users in their daily work.
Area Product Owner, User Experience, Healthcare.