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One Vendor’s Take On Building Usable Health IT

Posted on January 29, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Virtually anyone reading this blog has strong opinions on how to build usable health IT and what it the final product should look like. Now and then, though, I still think it’s worth tossing out somebody else’s version to see whether it adds to the conversation.

In that spirit, via Healthcare IT News, I bring you some of the views of  Joe Condurso, president and CEO of health IT vendor PatientSafe. Condurso, whose company works to marry consumer mobile trends with enterprise clinical IT, offered the following recommendations on building usable HIT:

*  Responds to context: A good system must “run on contextual analytics,” Condurso told HIN. “It’s connected to the back end, connected to all of the policies and procedures [an organization] is trying to implement, but were stuck in a three ring binder.”

*  Slips into existing processes:  If health IT goes with, not against existing workflow, that makes it easier for it to generate documentation for clinicians. In his view, well-designed technology “fortifies and creates all of t he documentation on the back end,” saving physicians time and effort.

* Is mobile:  This one’s a no brainer: since physicians these days have a mobile workflow, health IT needs to go mobile.  He notes that mobile tech doesn’t just allow clinicians to compute on the fly, it also means that when, say, a nurse needs to find a doctor, they don’t need to go on a safari to find them physically.

Starts from mobile design:  Condurso believes health IT UIs should start from mobile designs, then move up from there.  “The UI has to be able to yield important information and synthesize that in a small screen format,” he says. “You have to start with mobile and build up.”

So there you have it: a few more UI ideas to toss onto the conversational fire. I particularly liked Condurso’s notion that UI design should start mobile and work upward. What about you?

iOS App For Hospitals Snares $20M In VC Funding

Posted on January 10, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

As we’ve reported previously, nurses are as fond of mobile technology as doctors, with large numbers bringing their own devices in for day-to-day communication at work. Maybe that’s why a new app — dubbed “Yammer for hospital staffers” by GigaOm — is getting so much money and attention.

The app, PatientTouch for the iPod Touch, has already been rolled out to 65 hospitals across the country, GigaOm reports. And today, maker PatientSafe announced that it had received $20M in funding for Merck. That brings its total amount raised to an eye-popping $50 million. That’s gotta be some kind of record for health apps, even in the red-hot clinical communication app space.

As GigaOm describes it, PatientTouch’s core functions allow nurses to collect basic  It’s also offering souped-up communications. Not only does it offer Yammer-like person to person chat, that chat also can be integrated directly into EMRs. (The story doesn’t say exactly how this wonderfulness happens, or whether, say, it works with a leader like Epic or Cerner or Meditech.)

But that’s not all. PatientTouch also comes with a “jacket” for the Touch which protects it from unsanitary conditions and fluids, preserves battery life, and more intriguingly, includes a bar-code scanner.

The understandably proud CEO of PatientSafety, Joe Condurso, told GigaOm that on any given day, 7,000 PatientSafe-equipped Touches are in use.

I can see why the VCs and Merck are so excited by PatientTouch. It’s based on a very cheap yet powerful platform, offers (what I’ll assume is) secure communication between providers without the BYOD mess and integrates with EMRs, yet. What’s not to like?

All that being said, I can’t see a solution like this one as more than a bridge. Sure, it’s great that it’s helping nurses communicate via a better channel than random BYOD-driven text and e-mail until EMR makers create their own mobile front ends. But personally, I hope the need for a transitional solution like this doesn’t last long.  It’s long overdue for the big EMR vendors to create robust mobile front ends of their own that integrate directly into their platform. Enough foot dragging, already!