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The Importance of Thoughtful Design in All Aspects of HIT Deployments

There has never been a busier time in development and deployment of HIT (Health Information Technology).  The allure of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in its diverse manifestations, the quest to automate mundane tasks, the prevalence of End User Developed Applications (EUDAs), and the pervasive culture of instant gratification driven by rapid app development all highlight the importance of thorough and disciplined design.

Whether you’re creating something new, enhancing an established technological solution, forging new paths, or reevaluating existing processes in the relentless pursuit of excellence in healthcare delivery, one truth remains constant – design is paramount.  It is essential to ensure that your vision of the future is innovative, practical, and pragmatic, ensuring that your efforts align with and will support the evolving landscape of healthcare technology.

Effective design of HIT systems including the associated processes can significantly impact the quality of healthcare delivery, clinical outcomes, overall user, patient, and family satisfaction, and financial performance.

For complex designs, and even simple designs, be radically inclusive.  Holistic design requires participation by all impacted stakeholders.

  • Assign a strong design facilitator(s). In complex and some simple situations, create design principles to guide the discussion and maintain focus on what’s important.  If you have generic principles, ensure they fit the situation or personalize them so they do fit.
  • When appropriate, consider using a dyad-like approach with a clinician and technologist.  Ensure that each member of the dyad has the expertise to inform the design.  If not, find someone who does – either internally or externally.  A host of problems can be avoided when the right people are involved upfront.  Too often cybersecurity personnel, educators (those people who have to design the training curriculum), and post-implementation support resources are an afterthought.
  • When appropriate, invite your key vendors to participate.
  • For each phase of the design process, put time for a safe brainstorming segment on the agenda and encourage everyone to participate.  Document all ideas.
  • Document all decisions and the rationale for those decisions.
  • Revisit the design decisions as the build phase proceeds to ensure alignment with design specifications and principles.

Here are areas where you should focus and several reasons why design is essential in HIT deployments:

    1. Workflow Optimization
      • Efficient Processes: Design HIT systems to integrate seamlessly into existing healthcare workflows to reduce disruptions, save time, and minimize errors in data entry or retrieval.
      • Task-Specific Design: Tailor HIT interfaces and system interactions to specific tasks or roles to enhance efficiency by providing relevant, reliable, and timely information and functionalities to all users – patients, families, providers, and payers.
    2. User Engagement and Adoption
      • Effective User Interfaces: Create intuitive user-friendly interfaces to make it easier for users to interact with HIT systems.  Intuitive and user-friendly designs enhance user engagement and increase the likelihood of successful adoption.
      • Reduced Learning Curve: Use intelligent design to minimize the time and effort required for system users to learn and adapt to new technologies.
    3. Patient and Family Engagement
      • Accessible Information: Focus on patient and family needs to ensure that health information is presented in an easily understandable format at a level of understanding personalized for the user.  It is likely that you’ll want options based on how patients and families learn.  Empower patients and families to actively participate in the healthcare decision-making processes.  More easily understandable information generally facilitates better decision-making and outcomes.
      • User-Centric Portals: Ensure your patient (and family) portals have thoughtful design elements that enhance patient and family engagement by providing access to health records, appointment scheduling, communication with providers, education, and trusted resources (content).
    4. Data Accuracy and Integrity
      • Clear Data Visualization: Present complex medical data in a clear and understandable manner to minimize risk of misinterpretation and errors.
      • Alerts and Notifications: Design alerts to ensure that users are promptly informed about critical information but be wary of “alert fatigue” – which if not designed properly can adversely impact patient safety.
    5. Interoperability and Integration
      • Standardized Design Principles: Maximize interoperability to ensure easy access to comprehensive and relevant patient information.  Make sure that important information is highlighted.  Work to integrate any standalone system(s) into the IT environment.
      • Scalability: Ensure that the design is scalable and can be integrated now and in the future with other existing and emerging technologies.
    6. Security and Privacy
      • User Authentication and Authorization: Design auditable, secure login procedures and access controls to safeguard patient data and maintain privacy.  Use technologies that can reduce end-user frustrations associated with secure access.  Try to avoid compromises that increase risk.
      • Transparent Security Features: Share the rationale used to secure the environment.  Transparency helps build trust.  Users should feel confident that sensitive health information is properly protected.  Work to create or enhance a culture of security and privacy.

The importance of design in health information technology deployments cannot be overstated.  Thoughtful and stakeholder-centric design enhances satisfaction, promotes efficient workflows, contributes to better patient outcomes and healthcare delivery and improved financial performance.

Unlock the full potential of your project by integrating the insights of an impartial and seasoned third party across every stage, from conceptualization to operational excellence increasing the likelihood of maximizing the benefits.  At StarBridge Advisors, we have a distinguished team of over 40 accomplished professionals – CIOs, CISOs, CTOs, CMIOs, and CNIOs – spread across the nation.  Our experts can seamlessly assume roles as advisors, facilitators, leaders, or subject matter experts to elevate your project.  In addition, our Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) service can support you and your teams from the initial design phase through post-implementation stabilization based on a methodology that has been used in both simple and complex projects for decades.   Look to StarBridge Advisors as your strategic partner in achieving project excellence and realizing its full spectrum of benefits.

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