There have been tremendous advances in healthcare technologies in just the last decade alone.  The success of any new IT platform in your practice relies considerably on method of implementation and comprehensive training.

“Getting health IT “right” is difficult,” says Dr. Charles Friedman, writing for Health IT Buzz.  “Thousands of brilliant, creative and industrious people around the world have been working for several decades to realize the vision of making the technology a companion to care providers and patients, helping them make better decisions in support of better health.”

Since 2011, healthcare organizations have been coping with several new implementations, from electronic medical record systems to standardize data capture, electronic transmissions of records across multiple care settings, and most recently the focus on measuring improved outcomes.

“If you are one of these healthcare organizations and are looking ahead to 2016, it’s important to pause and evaluate the work you have done so far,” says Mariah Hay, writing in an article for Universal Mind, a digital technologies consulting agency.  “It’s important because the systems you put in place all have one thing in common – they either help providers and patients achieve their goals faster and more efficiently, or they create roadblocks that slow care.”

Usability: problem indicators

Predictably, one of the greatest challenges of these advances is usability.  “Poor usability leaves your providers and patients saying things like, ‘This is hard to use,’ ‘I’m not sure if I’m doing this right,’ and ‘It took me a long time to figure it out,’” says Hay.

Statements like these, suggests Hay, can be indicators of a larger problem.  When users are struggling with the technology, consequential data entry and other mistakes are frequently made, to say nothing of patient avoidance.  Systems and interfaces that are not user-friendly, particularly on the patient end, can result in patients not using the system, and or leaving your practice altogether.

4 Suggestions for better implementation

Many of the challenges can be overcome on the part of the technology designers and engineers.  “Companies that create simple systems employ human-centered design practices,” says Hay.  “They … walk a mile in the shoes of the end users (both practitioners and patients), (and) use this information to create a workflow that supports natural human behavior.”

When it comes to choosing the right technology and implementation methods for your practice, consider usability as part of your value assessment when procuring new systems – take the new system for a “test drive” before you commit to it.

Hay suggests talking to people in similar organizations.  “Learn how difficult implantation was for them, and the impact it had on business,” says Hay.  “Ask them if they have gotten adequate training and support.”

Consider your patient demographics; socio-economic status can be an indicator of patient behavior and their ease with technology.

Finally, says Hay, “Consider hiring a professional team who can evaluate your organization’s needs and create a roadmap of product integration and organizational service design.”

Raintree Systems specializes in specialized practice management & EMR solutions.  To talk to us about these and other ways to overcome healthcare technology usability issues in your practice, call (951) 252-9400 or email us at info@raintreeinc.com.