Medical Technology...leaving out clinicans

Technology has a growing presence in medical life - some areas faster than others. Interestingly we now have laptops ridiculously thin, the internet allowing more information than ever before, and even recognising pictures taken on your phone - yet some clinical systems look like windows 98...why?

The first time I worked in a lab for a job it used a clinical system to log each sample recieved, it was actually the same interface as MSDOS...from the 1990's in 2010. It's like having a gramophone next to an iPod!

Clinical systems suffer from this emerging problem of a huge amount of data - that needs to be either put in or taken out or both. Take ordering a blood sample, with an ever expanding range of tests you can do it would become a pretty full ordering screen or long bit of paper to list them all! So what happens is to solve this problem systems have pages of multiple tick boxes and drop down menus...eye sore. Not only that its inefficient and off putting.

What I have described there is looking at it from solving the data problem - what about if we look at it another way? - a solution for the clinician

How about designing a system around how a medical professional needs to navigate the information. Imagine software that is designed around the most efficient and appealing way for someone to access key information relevant to them. Ok so it sounds like a corny ad.

Usability is something which is growing in its influence, it's a word that has been around for decades but only recently redefined in technology. If something is easy to use for the purpose it will be a success - such as the iPhone (yes apple fan boy alert). Although it was by no means the first, the iPhone demonstrated that ease of use really does make the difference between a good gadget and a great one.

What's the hold up?

Creating some thing usable is both expensive and time consuming - why go to the hassle when you get something that works at the moment?

If we could apply the same principles to medical technology the results could be drastic. In such a high pressure environment as a hospital, small gains in efficiency add up - even if its just to remove additional stress on staff.

Jobs showed the world that having something that "just works" can change the way we use technology. I think its time for medical software to be given the "iDevices" treatment, and place the needs of the user before making a system that is merely functional.