At McKesson, user research revealed patterns of behavior, as well as problems we could address with design. I visited 7 hospitals to generate a list of thousands of observations. Then I added codes to each observation, such as where in the hospital they occurred and the part of the overall dataflow they impacted. Sorting by these criteria revealed patterns and opportunities for synergy.
For example, I found an alarming level of caregivers who, in their hurried states, didn't log out of the documentation system. (Another word for documentation is "charting", as in writing information on a patient's chart.)
Then, when other people (also in a hurry) came up to the workstation, it was in a state ready for charting, so sometimes they simply picked their patient and entered data - under another caregiver's name. This is obviously bad practice, and opens up liability issues.
I specified a new design that provided a more prominent area of the user interface to represent the caregiver. This made it more clear when they walked up to the workstation whether or not the charting would be attributed to them. I also recommended that they offer a way to present a small image of the caregiver, because when I tested this idea with caregivers they were more likely to log out because they didn't want their picture up there! However, this function wasn't yet implemented at the time I left McKesson.
Understanding emergency department layouts is key to creating products to help people that work there.
Following an EKG technician around for several days revealed opportunities for improving the product.