After finishing my master’s degree in communication and new technologies, I decided I would try my luck in a field in which I thought, as a nurse, it was needed: the health software design.
In this field I feel there are a lot of engineers but little people from the health sector, that can actually transmit what the needs are. During my years in the hospitals I worked with different computer programmes and also recently when I talked to one of the nurses that takes care of my grandfather, she showed me the program they used in the nursing home and we realised that there were various points in which health professionals could help these software be more efficient. I developed the points I found most relevant:
Point nº1: They aren’t very intuitive
In the hospital during the day there are many things happening, some simple and others that require changes in medication/diet/cures… This last ones require an update in the digital files of the patient. That shouldn’t be a problem, but usually the health programmes have huge menus with many options, thought for the nurse to have everything at sight he/she may need during the day to update the patient file. This takes a lot of space in the screen visually and make the software impractical.
Point nº2: Visually overwhelming
As I mentioned, the excess of information at sight, makes it harder to memorize and adapt to the interface. From templates, sub-menus, and scrolling up and down the actual selection, sometimes one can loose a lot of time trying to find what its looking for, plus I hear a lot the “oh, I didn’t know this option/template existed and I’ve been working with this for X months now!”.
Point nº3: Slow (in Spain at least)
I find the newest health software programmes actually acceptable at a design level, the problems is they are created for powerful computers, and so the computers in the public and private hospitals (the computers nurses have in their floors tend to be quite old) don’t really work well and there is a lot of time lost between loadings.
How can we help this cause?
I had it quite clear in my head. I wrote a cover letter to health software companies around my city in which I exposed the previous points plus my opinion on how I think health professionals could fix it, for example creating simpler and more functional menus so they can be more intuitive for the health professionals that will use it.
The answer was always very positive, encouraging me to keep pursuing this idea, however I didn’t get the chance to actually develop it (no budget, projects on hold…). Even though the need for a Health-ICT specialist is needed in the health software industry, it seems that for now it’s not given enough importance.