User Experience

Please tell us about your cross-platform and/or how you improved the successfulness of a product, service, experience, etc., through unifying an experience across platforms.: 

Empowering Clinician Communication

Health care is a coordinated effort. There is an immense amount of cross-team collaboration that happens behind the scenes. Orders are written, x-rays captured, and labs drawn. Add to that pharmacy, blood banks, transportation, and house keeping. With such a large network of clinical personnel, communication failures and alarm fatigue represent some of the largest contributors to adverse clinical events. In a hospital where every second counts, communication saves lives.

Our solution increases patient safety by putting secure voice communication, text messaging, patient electronic medical records (EMR), and smart alerting in the palm of the clinician's hand.

The final product is a set of applications across multiple devices: Android tablet, Android mobile phone, and Google Glass. With data as complex as medical records, only so much can be executed effectively on individual mobile devices. By focusing on holistic user scenarios that capture the full continuum of care, we are able to craft an integrated mobile strategy: the right need at the right time with the right device.

Our Solution

When a patient is admitted to the hospital, time is invaluable. Clinicians spend a lot of this precious time writing things down on paper to later enter it into the computer, which is typically found outside a patient’s room. By introducing mobile devices into this process, we are removing the technological barrier to patient care while increasing efficiency and productivity. 

With Cerner's Inpatient apps, physicians are able to review a patient's chart and write orders all from the patient's room using a tablet device. As soon as those orders are signed, nurses are notified on their phones and can immediately initiate the orders with the phone's custom bar-code scanning sled. 

When the nurse has a question for the physician or needs to contact another care provider, Cerner's CareAware Connect app offers a secure call and messaging platform that bridges the communication gap. CareAware Connect also provides real-time device notifications that link the clinician to their patient. These 'smart alert' thresholds are fine tuned for each patient's condition and help reduce alarm fatigue by only alerting clinicians when defined status changes occur. This app leverages all three Android devices to ensure clinicians are always connected.

Our Findings

User testing is at the core of our process. We test early and often. Over the course of a year, we conducted 5 usability studies with 30 unique participants. Throughout the project, user feedback played a vital role in directing strategy. And because our target user base has such a diverse age range, testing consistently revealed surprising results.

One such result came when parsing out conceptual needs versus actual needs. It would have been easy to attempt to replicate full desktop functionality in the mobile space. But by understanding the role a mobile device plays in our user's story, we were able to hone in on strategic functionality that complements the device capabilities. Tablets cover primary workflows, phones supplement those workflows by offering up quick access, and Google Glass becomes a powerful notification center when our users go hands-free.

Devices aren't the only factor with limitations. The designs needed to accommodate for the limitations of our users as well. Even though our solution is for high-tech mobile devices, our user base is 50+ years of age. In fact, many users have never experienced a touch device prior to deployment. It’s not enough to simply leverage platform standards; our users needed us to go beyond standards to enhance usability. Unique navigation patterns, action bars, edit modes; while they are predefined building blocks in Android, we've made the investment to customize some of these standard components to compliment the clinical workflow and make them as intuitive as possible.

Other learnings came from simply watching, which led to three unique solution components.

A digital directory: The health care industry is in the middle of a huge migration from paper to computers. Something as simple as a contact directory is frequently overlooked. Historically, each unit or department produces its own directory sheet. Users must dig through binders filled with phone numbers to locate someone outside of their unit. CareAware Connect revolutionizes this workflow by giving users access to a digital directory, where they can quickly search by name, department, and availability.

Alerts: Desktop computers dominate the digital landscape of a hospital. Nurses are practically chained to them to monitor a patient's status. With CareAware Connect, nurses can now have notifications pushed to their mobile devices whenever a patient’s status changes. This alerting capability allows users to spend more time with their patients and provide more personalized care.

Items for review: This is a Cerner concept that runs through the heart of our desktop application. Similar to a check list, nurses check off items as they acknowledge various changes in the patient's care and status. By integrating this workflow into the mobile experience, nurses stay up-to-date on a patient's condition and their documentation simultaneously.


Designing the future of health care.